Posts Tagged ‘pacaud’


Recent reviews: Restaurant Mercuri, Bar Mercuri, Le Serpent, La Chronique, Jun IL’Européa, Sushi Yasu, Kyo, Peter Luger, Kam Fung, FiregrillPatrice Patissier, Raku, Au cinquième péché.

***My second visit in 5 years at restaurant La Chronique, Montreal, showcased a startling food performance that plenty of top Michelin starred establishments across Europe would be very proud of. Chef De Montigny is indeed a top class Chef and his restaurant is a first-rate establishment. Firmly in my top 3 in Montreal (La Porte/Le Serpent/La Chronique). My review of that meal here.


***Restaurant Magazine has Noma back at its World’s 100 best restaurants of the world‘s pole position, which, to me, makes perfect sense. In 2012, both my wife and I have revisited what we strongly believe to be world’s top 3 , Noma/Alinea/Fat Duck and it’s clear in our minds that those three restaurants are the only ones deserving of world’s top tier position. Their craft is simply way above anything that’s being done at this moment.  We could not believe that El Celler de Can Roca was restaurant’s mag #1 last year, a pure nonsense: we dined there twice in the past 5 years and there is no way El Celler is a World’s #1. It is a World’s #1 for best value restaurant anywhere around the world,  I would bet on  that, but no more.   Again, nothing against Restaurant Magazine listing, it’s the personal choices of their folks, so who are we to judge other people’s opinions, but I am not a robot, thefore was entitled to my opinion too ;p

***The highlights, for me, of this first half of my current foodie year in Montreal have been the superb return of Chef Michelle Mercuri at Le Serpent. One of my favourite Chefs anywhere across the globe, this talented Chef   continues to be consistent with the top standards he keeps setting wherever he goes . Montreal is no short of cooks who went from hero to zero, but Michelle is certainly not one of those.  I was also impressed by the silky  skills of Chef Ding at Kyo in Le Vieux Port. With  Chef Ding at the helm,  Kyo is simply the best isakaya in town. A simple marinade of his beef tataki , to take an example of something simple, therefore packed with details that can be easily overlooked, had depth that only 5% of the Chefs in town could replicate and understand. For sure, if such details is beyond comprehension to you, then skip forward, lol,  but it is with details like those that I can appreciate the talent of a Chef.  Aside from both Kyo and Le Serpent,  it was also nice to see La Chronique confirming what I was suspecting (a true Montreal giant) as well as sampling some dazzling bistrot fares at an old favourite, Au Cinquième Péché.

******I went paying a visit to Chef Joe Mercuri’s new establishments, his fine dining destination called Mercuri as well as his more casual bistrot-centric Bar Mercuri (both sharing the same roof). Super Joe is one of my favourite Chefs in Montreal, the Mercuri family being a well known (to the Montreal restaurant scene)  family of talented Chefs (Michelle, Joe) with memorable tenures at Bronté (both Joe and Michelle), XO Le Restaurant (Michelle), Rosalie (Joe) and much more. It was a pleasure to resume with Joe’s crafts after years of absence from the restaurant scene. As ever, the man is there, even on a quiet Tuesday, a rarity for most Chefs nowadays, hard worker  and a great fan of all things tasteful (stylish décor, beautiful platings, Pascale Girardin dinnerware in the fine dining section, Opinel knives at Bar Mercuri). Apart a failed attempt at a contemporary fancy flight around the  snow crab (There’s no doubt in my mind that Joe did not craft that one. In Montreal, only Chefs like Joe Mercuri, Michelle Mercuri, Francois Nadon, Mario Navarrete Jr are truly capable to turn such challenging assortment into something magic) everything else was enjoyable, backed by beautiful produce,  and of course couple of  hits made their appearances as to  remind that Joe is still the man,  like a galanga mousse with texture and taste I never enjoyed in Montreal before, shitake mushrooms that I knew could be tasty but not as exciting in mouth as this one I was having, and some pappardelle to never forget.  What needs to be ironed out is easy to address and are normal in the context of a restaurant that is only in its 3rd month of existence: avoid any notion of meager portions when a risotto is served and billed as a main course (see the review of my  fine dining meal), keep the “dishes all served at once” communal / tapas principle to couples or groups only, not to a solo diner (see the review of my meal at Bar Mercuri), unless , of course, that is what he/she wants  (not too sure why a solo diner would opt for that, though).

***Chocolate flavored fried chicken, anyone? Well, not bad at all as an idea. One wonders how come no one has thought about it before? lol. Adam Fleischman is making it happened at Choco Chicken in Los Angeles.

***A £1,235 A HEAD, yeap for a meal, no kidding! It’s the idea of Michelin-starred chef Paco Roncero and it’s happening in one country that’s heavily affected by the current global economic turmoil, Spain. Check that out, it’s really not a joke: clear here.

***3 star Michelin Chef Régis Marcon could be interested to open a restaurant in Japan. More, here.

***3 star Michelin Ledoyen (in Paris)  will have Chef Yannick Alléno at the helm, soon (more can be found here). For me, this is for the better, in the case of Ledoyen as I have visited this place twice, by now (in the past 3 years) and truely felt that it was an overrated 3 star Michelin.  The report of the first my two meals there can be perused on this link.

***Went back to a personal favourite French Bistrot in Montreal, Au Cinquième péché.  Au Cinquième péché  continues to rank in the top-tier of Montreal bistrots. As it’s realistic to put, you can’t expect any kitchen or Chef to be in its prime all the time AND that  it is in its prime that its true skills are to  be accurately assessed. This meal was simply a benchmark of its kind with a beef tongue dish as well as their signature sweetbreads worth of word class (by French Bistrot  standards) praises. Of course, I also had less spectacular meals here, as you won’t fail to  experience with  ‘normal’ meals at your  favourite bistrots, but even on the ‘normal meals’ they still managed to rank among Mtl’s best. But on this meal, they left the Montreal scene, conquered the world and crushed plenty of their competitors worldwide, lol. Joke aside, this was a startling bistrot meal. My review here.

***My first visit at Patrice Patissier. Patrice continues to wow Montreal with his dazzling desserts and pastries. My review here.

***I also paid a visit to L’Européa, one popular fine dining destination in Montreal. It is hard not to like L’Européa as you’ll be pampered like a queen/king here. BUT the food REALLY needs to improve, by leaps! My review, here.

***Sushi Yasu is one of the rare sushi shops (in Montreal & surroundings)  with a real Japanese Sushi Master at the helm. Unfortunately, on the back of my meal there, that was not an advantage for them. My review here.

***Raku is an isakaya in Brossard, South shore Montreal. It’s the kind of place that is easy to overlook if you have no sense for details or tend to jump to hasty conclusions: if I’d have simply sampled their sushis, as well as a simple tartare that was poorly executed, I’d remember this place as just another average shop. But I was curious to dig a bit more in their menu and surprise, their takoyaki balls was top class, their veggie tempura was above average. A mixed bag if you wish, but for me this seems like a kitchen that has its strenghts. You just need to find out which ones they are. Report of my meal, here.

***Lately, on this blog, my quick post on Nice seems (if I look at the wordpress counter) to have been very popular among the viewers of this site. A sign that summer is in full effect, lol. Well, Nice is indeed a special place but what has impressed me is that after two decades of no show, I was as excited by Nice as it was the case two decades prior. I have re-visited many places after decades of absence but have rarely left with this same sense of satisfaction. The thing about Nice is that whether you are nearby or within, you’ll always be stunned : the sun, the beautiful landscapes, the beautiful people, the great food and everything that makes France look good, well they have it. Some of you did ask where I stayed during that trip: I stayed at the Ibis Styles Nice Vieux Port, nothing special here but  reasonable in terms of lodging budget given that you are in the fun part of Nice. I do not regret that choice and would repeat it again if I’d re-visit Nice.


***I was also surprised to see the following less popular posts gaining a sudden rise to fame, among you:
Victor Gourmet Shloss Berg: You’d have hard time convincing me that there’s better than Chef Bau’s performance on that evening, but I am not naive enough to believe that the sun shines all the time. Restaurants, like anything operated by humans, have their ups and downs. So, I can’t bet on this house to be consistently as magical as on that evening. All I can is to talk about that meal I was having and that was magical, indeed. Looking forward to re-visit Victor Gourmet Shloss Berg, though. Germans, you can count on their consistency. That is well known.
-Mon top 10 des meilleures chansons: Lol, that was funny. I did not want my blog to focus solely on food. So, I use my blog in its conventional definition, which means a space where I ”spit” whatever comes out of my mind and that I deem fun to share with whoever might be interested to dig in.
Some of you seem to have liked this post and I do certainly appreciate that.
L’Arpège: I was expecting that post to be popular, but it was not (for a while). Recently, your interest for my post about L’Arpège grew up significantly. I hope you are not misled by my article since I did my best to be as accurate as possible: for my taste, this is a special place for me. If you are interested, then do lots of searches and ensure that’s really what you want because L’Arpège is not your usual conventional type of 3 star Michelin. You know, appreciation for food is like appreciation for colors: I’ll rave about my favourite color because I am genuinely attracted by it, and even the devil won’t be able to alter my opinion, but that does not mean my favourite color will be yours.

***Other big hits, lately, on this web blog: the review on L’Ambroisie. I am surprised by this one. L’Ambroisie is a very expensive place, so I do not quite get this one. I know what I like and I am upfront about it, so Chef Bernard Pacaud was cooking on that lunch and there were just 3 tables, so we (the 3 tables) had Chef Bernard  Pacaud for ourselves and indeed  I found him, along with Chef Jacques Maximin, to be an exceptional Chef with amazing instinctive cooking genius. Therefore, I was floored despite the hefty cost of that meal. But I am not sure I would recommend a place this $$$ to someone. Furthermore, is Bernard Pacaud still at the helm? Also: remember that this is a dated review (few years back). So, you are free to share my enthusiasm of that meal, lol, but ensure that you did your homework, verified what it is up to nowadays and find out for yourself.  As for me, that was a meal even superior to what Girardet or Joel Robuchon himself offered in their prime. But again, that was my meal there a few years ago when Chef Bernard Pacaud, the dad, was still cooking on lunch. Nowadays,  if I am not mistaken, it is his son who’s actively at the helm and I have no clue if the food experience is as stellar as when his dad was behind the stoves. Of course, that meal at L’Ambroisie will always have a special place in my heart and Bernard Pacaud, the dad, will always remain in my top 2 best Chefs of all time  (the other is Jacques Maximin)  but on the other hand, I am realistic: most ppl nowadays want value for their money.

***You seemed to have also found an interest in my latest review on Bouillon Bilk in Montreal. Obviously, you were ‘served’ with the perfect  reality of any  restaurant with both a  1st review that was not short of flourishes, then that second one which did not live up to the hype of the earlier report. Regardless, if Chef Nadon is at the helm  you’ll enjoy one of Montreal’s better contemporary food destinations. It’s just not the sort of food that an aide and/or  a kitchen brigade can replicate easily. You really need to know what you are doing when you craft that kind of assortment. It will take me some time before I go back there  as I dine out to enjoy my food, not to observe that life is made of ups and downs…I can cook well,  myself,  so I’ll leave that sort of observations to food journalists – they are paid for that kind of existential analysis, after all –



L’Ambroisie, Paris



(住所)9, pl des Vosges Paris, France (4e arrondissement)


(電話) 01-42-78-51-45

Langoustine, ananas, velouté de crustacés(ヨーロッパアカザエビとパイナップル、エビのポタージュ):昨日他のミシュラン三ツ星レストラン(ルドワイヤン)で食事をし、その味に大きな感動を覚えることはなかったと書いたのだが、それは私が探しているこのレベルの料理においての素晴らしい味わいは必ず存在しており、しかしながらそこでの発見は無かったということであった。しかしながらここ「ランブロワジー」は私が期待し続けていた完璧な例を書き綴る機会をすぐに与えてくれたのである。このアムズ・ブシュであるラングスティーヌは申し分の無いもの(神々しいまでのうまさとしっとり感)であった。驚きはそこで終わらない。ブリュノワーズのパイナップル(グリーンペッパー、レッドペッパーのダイスとミックスされたもの)はそこらのブリュノワーズではない。魅惑的に、天才的に作り上げられた、すべての他のブリュノワーズの典拠とでも言っておこう。更にこのヴルーテにおいては何といえば良いのだろう。これこそ探し求めていたこのレベルの料理というものである。卓越したうまさ!満点。有星、無星レストランで今まで試した中で最も優れた一品の一つだ!

Chaud froid d’oeuf mollet au cresson , asperges vertes, caviar oscietre gold(クレソンと堅め半熟玉子、グリーンアスパラと金のキャビア添え) :euf mollet(卵は予想通りの完璧な半熟)はクレソンのソース(ソースによる楽しい意外性を含んだ卵の味を楽しめた)で覆われており、アスパラガス、(彼らは野菜を上手く調理することを極めている)キャビア(一般的な、チョウザメの薄味で高級な塩づけの魚卵。トップレベルの料理に期待するもの)が添えられていた。

Oeuf en coque(半熟玉子):「ラルページュ」のシェフ、パサルド、申し訳ない、貴方の有名な「卵」の前菜は大好きだが、パコーの‘Oeuf en coque’は極上だ。うまい。半熟玉子のすべてのうまみの本質がシンプルにアサツキのみで高められている。驚愕!満点以上!

Sea bass and artichoke atop a caviar (Ocietra gold from Iran) white butter sauce(シーバスとアーティチョークのキャビア添え、ホワイトバターソース):シーバスは上手く調理されており(完璧な火の通り具合)味は最高(この見た目の悪い魚がこんなにうまくなるとは!)バターソースはすばらしく口当たりが良く、材料(者ルロットと白ワイン)とも好相性だ。丁度よい酸味(ソースの白ワインからきている)がその高級感を湛えていた。マイルドな味のアーティチョーク(スライスされた中心部)がソースとよく合っており、チョウザメの加工された塩漬けの卵の質はピカイチであった。総して、非の打ちどころがない(この魚の下準備に相当の時間を掛けているのは明らかである)一品というのはとても貴重なうまさなのだ。この料理に「マジック」は感じないが、そこでの3本の指に入るに値するだろう。(評価:A9/10)

Tarte fine sable au cacao, glace à la vanilla bourbon(薄いココアサブレのチョコレートタルト、ブルボン産ヴァニラのアイスクリーム添え):薄いココアサブレの層で覆われた、ヴァニラアイスクリームを添えたチョコレートタルト。このタルトは驚くべき製菓技術の秘密をそのうまさと共に明らかにした。これもまた満点


ここでもまた、いくつか言葉を挙げたい。誰かがサービスは完璧だったと書いてあったのを知っている。しかし彼らが「レンガの壁」に遭遇した、と書いてあったのはどうであろう。最近私は彼らに「真剣」と「冷たい」を混乱しないように、と進言した。分かっている、そのサービスはプロフェッショナルである、間違いなく。しかしながら、3ツ星レストランに何を期待するのか?ここはビアホールでもビストロでもない、そうであろう?パスカル氏、このランチで私を担当した彼は本当にプロフェッショナルかつ素晴らしいジェントルマンである。「OUi, oui」・・・彼は真面目で控えめであった、そう、だから?私は軽くジョークを交わし、その後彼はリラックスしていた。私たちはルムラック氏の引退について少し話し、私がその食事で選んだ素晴らしいドメーヌ・ルフレーヴ2006年物など、様々な楽しい話をした。食事中ずっと、この申し分ないサービスを観察しながらランチを楽しんでいたのだが、私は自分自身に問い続けていた。「何が問題だというのだ?本当に同じレストランか?(笑)・・・おそらく言葉の壁・・・いや、それにしても彼らは皆良い感じではないか、一体・・・いや、とにかく、」 結論:三ツ星レストランに期待すべき、申し分のないサービスである。

総じて、びっくりするような値段を誇っている、というのが大多数(ウェブサイト上+私のパリの高級フレンチの常連仲間の意見)が認めてるところであるが、もっとも重要なことは運ばれてきた料理、それが極めて う・ま・い!ということだった。それよりも私にとって明らかになったことは、このような食事を経験して私はもはやランブロワーズが現在存在する中で最も優れた高級三ツ星フレンチレストランであるということに驚かない。今、この日まで訪れたことのなかったパリの最近のミシュラン3ツ星の称号を得たただ二店、ルドワイヤンとランブロワーズを訪れ(幸運なことに、パリの三ツ星はそれほど多くなく、最近新たに取得した店もなかった)、私は自身を持ってランブロワーズがーこの時点においてー個人的に選んだパリでナンバーワンの3つ星であることを宣言できる。特別な食事として何年も私の思い出に残るだろう。

L’Ambroisie, Paris

Dejeuner au  restaurant L’Ambroisie, Paris
Vendredi  25 Mai 2011 12:30
Étoiles Michelin: 3
Addr: 9, pl des Vosges Paris, France (4e arrondissement)
Telephone 01-42-78-51-45
Type de cuisine: Francaise

Parfois  les jours  se suivent mais ne se ressemblent pas. Heureusement, dans ce cas ci!  Alors qu’ hier,  Jeudi 24 Mars, mon repas  au triple étoilé Michelin Ledoyen ne m’a aucunement charmé (en termes d’éclat gustatif ce fut à oublier, dommage que cela ne s’ajuste jamais  sur la facture …), on est aujourd’hui dans un tout autre registre: celui des papilles qui en redemandent! Aux oubliettes les critiques qui, sur le web, se sont appliquées à minimiser la grandeur de cette table: ce midi, à L’Ambroisie, les faits me propulsent  plutot parmi ceux qui ont énormément apprécié cette grande table. Tout, absolument tout, releva du bonheur divin.   Je tire et je pointe: avec Bernard Pacaud aux fourneaux (il y était ce Vendredi sur l’heure du midi), celle ci est la meilleure table de haute cuisine Francaise de notre époque.  N’en déplaise aux sceptiques!

Les Plus:  avec un titre comme DIVIN!…que voulez vous de plus? Évidemment, il y’a un prix au bonheur cosmique.

Les Moins:  Rien à dire, par contre attendez vous à le chercher un petit peu sous les arcades de la Place des Vosges (c’est pas sorcier, et ca n’est relativement pas non plus immense la Place des Vosges, mais moi j’ai du un peu chercher pour trouver).

Ma note:  10/10 (A mon avis, en matière de haute cuisine Francaise classique, vous trouverez difficilement mieux parmi les 3  étoiles Michelin actuels)

Y retourner:  biensur. Je pense que tant que Bernard Pacaud sera là, ca sera toujours un temple de la célébration gourmande comme on en trouve de moins en moins. Mais Bernard s’approche de la retraite.

Photos et autres détails dans mon billet en Anglais.

L’Ambroisie, Paris

Event: Lunch at restaurant L’Ambroisie, Paris
When: Friday March 25th 2011 12:30
Michelin stars: 3
Addr: 9, pl des Vosges Paris, France (4e arrondissement)
Phone: Phone: 01-42-78-51-45
Type of cuisine: Classic french

Food rating (by the highest Classic French 3 star Michelin standards): 10/10 (Superb delicious food)
Service: 10/10
Overall Dining experience: 10/10 Everything, on this lunch, was of superior 3 star Michelin standards
Food rating: Exceptional (10), Excellent (9), Very good (8), Good (7)

I will, for this review on L’Ambroisie, seize the opportunity to elaborate a bit on my expectations, experiences and views on French cuisine in general, 3* Michelin Fine dining  and the Michelin guide in particular. I hope this will be useful to the  readers  of the current report.

I am French myself and as an admirer of French fine dining, I have naturally sacrificed a big portion of my hard earned money in what France offers on the upper scale of its restaurant scene.  L’Ambroisie, along with Ledoyen, are the only Parisian 3* Michelin ventures that I had not  visited yet as of today (Ledoyen was finally visited yesterday). You’ll find more about my experiences with France’s haute cuisine in the next sections of this review, but for now I’ll start with the motivation that lead to  my consideration of  the Michelin red book: for years, I have carefully followed all type of restaurant reviews. ALL! … only to end up with SOME supposedly serious food columnists (I wrote “some” since NOT ALL  of them are concerned by  my reservations)  raving  over  restaurants where impressive pre-sold magic are  never found in the plates but  rather  in the   media buzz  itself (I do not mind buzz. It is necessary as a business /marketing tool, but back your buzz by matching  reality)! When you end up with supposedly serious professionals who themselves recognize that they are well known to those they are reviewing, you know it is about time to put an end to the circus. That reliability I was dearly seeking, I knew  I had  to  find it elsewhere!  That is how I started to trust Michelin. Not that it is a perfect system (there will never be a perfect system anyways), but at least it does what has to be done: anonymous reviews (instead of the friendly reviews of some) and a rigorous work of evaluating  excellence in food and dining experience. Michelin may have its detractors (who doesn’t?) , but I prefer discretion and serious work over annoying quest for celebritism through restaurant reviewing.

Michelin being initially from France, I also tend to value its appreciations on … France’s restaurants. To some extent, its evaluations of French restaurants in general, whether they are in France or outside of France. I do not expect Michelin to be the specialist of non  French restaurants. But that’s just my personal expectations of  Bibendum’s works.

Many of the 3* Michelin France’s haute  dining —- that I partook in — have delivered some  moments of culinary amazement  (Michel Bras, when he was regularly behind  his stoves, that was   a true defining experience of 3* dining excellence in my opinion. Thought the same about  Michel Guérard, Olivier Roellinger, Gerard Besson,  Georges Blanc when they are / were  at  their very best). Chef Bernard Loiseau (had couple of meals cooked by him in 1992, 1993, 1997) , who unfortunately took his own life, will always be remembered too as one giant who has never failed to serve me what still rank, years later, among the best moments of all my Michelin starred meals (for those who went recently dining at his restaurant, please send me an email with details of  your own experience. I am curious to learn about the cooking of their current Chef, Monsieur Patrick Bertron).

Of course, I did also experience few  other  3* events that did not seduce, of which I could easily identify the major problems: usually it was either a hasty interest in modernizing the cuisine or a lack of clear culinary identity (this oftently happens when the kitchen switches in between the hands of too many cooks or a Chef whose brigade is weak / lacking in leadership).

How I chose a 3* table:

Most people I know won’t bother with careful long research on restaurants when it comes to  dining out. They  basically rely on opinions of who they think is enoughly reliable, eventhough this is clearly not a matter of reliability but of personal preferences as in  the preeminent and realistic long formula “”food enjoyment = personal expectations + knowing what you like Vs what you do not + what your palate has bookmarked as previous references + misc personal encounters during your diner + the ability of remaining humble enough to avoid unnecessary pretention +  how informed you were about the place you are dining at + what you have been eating before you head there + your state of mind + how open minded you are…and I’ll stop here, Lol! “””.  I can’t blame them (there are certainly other interests that deserve much attention), but my choice for a dinner goes through an absurdly (yeah, I’ve got to admit this…although I will always maintain such diligence) extended process: I read ALL, absolutely ALL possible comments, inform myself a lot about the Chef’s philosophy/creations/ background/achievements + the type of restaurant, its history, its style. I do the same, whenever it is possible, with the authors whose opinions  I read: enquiring about the style of dining he or she usually favors is one (among others)  essential piece of intelligence.

This dinner at L’Ambroisie is the result of a two years long  study on an impressive list of 3* Michelin tables around the world. Two years is time consuming, but I do not go to restaurants just for the sake of piling numbers (The  number of restaurants you visit says nothing about the quality of the dining experience you accumulate). I go to a restaurant for the adding value I presume the restaurant can bring to my personal dining experience.  Back to L’Ambroisie, it is interesting to note that  I could have picked restaurants on which there seems to exist more favourable conscensus. In Paris, if you do not want to miss the boat on the upper 3* Michelin starred dining echelon, just pick Guy Savoy, L’arpège or Alain Ducasse at Plaza Athénée. They are great: their food is consistently good and they treat you like you are a king. Exactly what we all should expect from an   expensive and haute  dining experience. But what attracts me to a restaurant is a combination of very precise factors: (1) food that has a chance to set some kind of new reference to my personal gustatory repertoire,  (2) food of a Chef mostly praised for that little touch that sets the truly talented cooks apart. And in the case of L’Ambroisie, there is also this reason: he –Bernard Pacaud – is one of the last chefs from the nouvelle cuisine movement. There is nothing ‘’nouvelle’’ anymore with that culinary movement , but this is one type of cuisine that suited well with my palate. Before Chefs like Pacaud  retires (He is 64 yrs old ), I’d suggest anyone interested in French fine dining to try at least once in their life the cuisine of those  last pioneers of the nouvelle cuisine.

I  was lucky enough to fullfill this aim to sample the food of some of them:  Michel Guérard (I sampled his food in 2005 and 2006 at Les prés d’Eugénie in Aquitaine. I hope it is still as great as it used to be since I never went back since ), Bocuse’s Auberge du Pont de Collonges in Lyon (2006,2007,2008 All three meals were admittedly not among the best I ate, but they all featured some dishes with character that  still rank high among those I keep referring back to whenever I indulge in French haute dining), Alain Senderens whose food I tasted in 2004 and 2009, and of course the other Chefs that I mentioned previously.

The meal began ..NOT with their  usual expected  serving of classic French cheese based savory choux pastry from Burgundy (gougeres), BUT with

Langoustine, ananas, velouté de crustacés – Bien, voilà. Yesterday, when I was at the other 3 star Michelin Parisian restaurant (Ledoyen) and I kept writing that I was not amazed by the food, what I meant is that the type of gustatory amazement that I am seeking at this level of cuisine does indeed exist and was not found there. It took no time for L’Ambroisie to give me the chance to write about the perfect example of what I was expecting.  On this amuse bouche, the langoustine itself was a treat (divinely tasty, moist) but the amazement did not stop there: that little complimentary ‘brunoise‘ of pineapple (mixed with dices of green, red peppers) was not your next-door brunoise. Think of a luxurious, geniusly-concocted brunoise that sets the reference for all other brunoise. And a lifetime  will never be enough to find  superlatives to describe the taste of that velouté. That was all I am looking  for at this level of dining -> Delicious with a huge D! And for sure, the  most successful food item I ever sampled at  a 3 star Michelin table since my meals at Joel Robuchon’s Hôtel du Parc and Frédy Girardet (both dinners occured in 1995)  . And those are far from being the last 3 star Michelin that I’ve visited. Which says a lot about the stunning palatable impact of this one food item (but it was not just tasty. It was packed with such  impressive technical mastery that most of the top restaurants out there would never manage to achieve in their entire existence). A 10 over 10 and off we go for one of the best food items I ever sampled with  any Michelin starred and Non starred dinings !

Chaud froid d’oeuf mollet au cresson , asperges vertes, caviar oscietre gold– The oeuf mollet (the egg is  successfully half cooked as it should)  was covered with a layer of watercress sauce (I enjoyed  the interesting kick brought by the sourness of the watercress to the egg)  and served along asparagus (they have mastered the doneness of the vegetable pretty well) and caviar (typical oscietra thin flavor, a rich quality salty fish roe   as I expect at  such heavy  price). A dish that has been perfected to deliver memorable deliciousness. 10 over 10

On the side, I was served with their:

Oeuf en coque: Sorry Chef Passard (at L’Arpège), I love your famous ‘egg’ appetizer … but the ‘Oeuf en coque’ of Chef Pacaud tantalizes me more:  DELICIOUS taste, kept all the essence of Oeuf en coque while boosting it with the simplicity of chives. Amazing. The huge D in  DELICIOUS! Another 10 over 10!

Sea bass and artichoke atop a caviar (Ocietra gold from Iran) white butter sauce –  Sea bass has always been one of my favourite fishes (especially the Chilean sea bass, with pan roasting being my #1 cooking method for fish). The seabass was nicely cooked (perfect moist interior) and tasted great (it is amazing how this ugly fish can taste good ;p).  The butter sauce had great textural quality, balance between its ingredients (shallots, white wine), and  enough acidity (coming from the sauce’s white wine) to control its richness . The mild flavor of the artichokes (sliced artichoke hearts) paired  well with the sauce and the quality of the sturgeon’s processed salted roe was at its finest. Overall, a dish that is technically without reproach  (you can see that each step of the preparation of that fish was well-timed) and more importantly delicious. It did not have the ‘magic’ of the previous courses, but deserved its rank among the best 3 star food items out there. A 8 over 10.

Concluded with an excellent pamplemousse Ice Cream (Again the D in DELICIOUS was at the rendez vous here again):

The Pamplemousse Ice cream


Tarte fine sable au cacao, glace à la vanilla bourbon – A chocolate pie, its topping  made of a powdery cocoa layer, paired  with vanilla ice cream. I love pies because they reveal a lot about the technical level and personality of the Chef behind it. Yep, the pie … that simple item that we all virtually never miss…it hides some dirty little secrets, Rfaol! Pies are amazing: they are vibrant in taste and texture in the hands of a fun Chef, they are as great as the talent of their creator. I know this can be said of any food in general, but it shows up way more convincingly through a pie. Pacaud uses a dark rich chocolate from a famous Parisian chocolatier known for its quality products: Christian Constant. This is only my 5th or 6th experience with  Constant’s chocolate. They are fine but not my favourite (really a question of personal preference: I prefer Debauve & Gallais, Robert Linxe’s creations at la Maison du Chocolat where Constant used to work, Jean-Paul Hévin). Pacaud’s pie is indeed a little curiosity when you taste it for the 1st time (which is my case): it’s unusually delicate in both shape and consistency. And as I initially anticipated, it told me a lot about Pacaud: the raw talent (shown in the perfect thickening of the pie’s filling,  a soft and creamy plain chocolate filling that  was flawless in execution), the discretion and humility (no shocking deep flavors, no adornments), the exclusivity (not a common pie), the profound respect for the product’s identity  (I have spent years studying the signature tastes of many chocolatiers creations, and if you are familiar enough with those, you would not fail to decipher Christian Constant’s imprint in that chocolate). The challenge here is epic: we appreciate the effort,the quality of the product, the impeccable technique but did it live up to what matters: was it delicious? Was this the best chocolate pie my palate has ever flirted with? Response: YES, YES, Hell YEAH!! A perfect 10 (This pie is NOT raw…as I read in some reviews! And more importantly, it unveils  amazing culinary technical mastery mixed with DELICIOUS taste. Pair  that choco pie  with the vanilla ice cream that comes along –I forgot to ask but it tasted more like Tahitian vanilla rather than Malagasy one — and … ambrosially amplified goes the taste. Divine!) 10/10

I read a lot about L’Ambroisie before going there. Some found it sublime. Few others found it subpar. Based on this very specific lunch,  I am asking myself if those who found it subpar dined at the same restaurant? Or perhaps no one was in the kitchen when they dined there, Rfaol!..Joke apart, this one Lunch that I enjoyed on Friday March 25th is the perfect example of what I consider as the perfect 3 star dinner: food that is UBBER-DELICIOUS and …. read the rest!

SERVICE: Here again, I need to drop a few words. I know some wrote that the service was perfect. But what about those who wrote that they met with ‘bricks of wall’. To the latest, I urge them to not confuse ‘being serious’ with ‘being cold’. I know..I know..I know: the service is professional, serious. BUT what do you expect at a 3 star restaurant??   This not a Brasserie nor a Bistro, right??  Mr Pascal, my Maitre D on this lunch is  a serious professional and amazing gentleman. Oui, Oui…he looked serious and reserved, so what? I just craked some jokes with him and he was relaxed aftterwards.  We talked about Mr Lemoulac’s departure a bit, the amazing 2006 Meursault Leflaive I chose for the meal, and many other interesting subjects. All along this  meal, observing this impeccable service I was enjoying on this lunch, I kept repeating to myself  “”but what were  some complaining about? are we at the same restaurant, Rfaol!..perhaps the language barrier…but still, they were all nice, so what….anyways.”””.    Bottom line: an impeccable service as you might expect at a top 3 star table.

If like me, you are fond of baroque style , then L’Ambroisie interior will appeal. I noticed the Aubusson tapestries that I kept hearing about when informing myself on L’Ambroisie (, the marble floors, paintings.  It is not  as grandiose as I had once anticipated, but extremely charming.

PROS:  I think that Bernard Pacaud’s  cooking (he was cooking on this lunch) is the finest haute French food that has ever blown away my taste buds since Joel Robuchon and Frédy Girardet have  retired. To my taste, this  overall dining experience on Friday March 25th at L’Ambroisie is exactly what reaches out to my own definition of the pinnacle of a 3 star Michelin dinner.

CONS: Nothing that  comes to mind.

CONCLUSION:  My definition of ‘’great food’’ turns around a  combination of   80% from  the natural talent of the Chef (the personal touch of an exceptionally skilled artisan, whatever magic his personal impulsive genius can generate, the s-o-u-l of the Chef!!)  + 20%  that will come from the quality of the ingredients. Basta! The rest (whatever philosophy, vision is great for both the Chef himself on a personal level and/or his marketing team) is theoretical.

There is an important distinction between talent and personal touch:

a Chef can be technically skilled (mastering various cooking methods, cooking at the correct temperature, with the right ingredient combinations, etc) but his food lacking in terms of soul (ever wonder why out of a team of highly talented chefs, cooking the exact same dish, with the exact same ingredients, there is always one or two who still manage to elevate the dish  to some kind of gustatory reference?). Passion? It should already be part of the personality of a great Chef  or else he has no business being a chef. Great ingredients? Absolutely, but in the hands of a non talented chef, they worth nothing.

Going there, I was looking for great cuisine that is taking no risks nor trying to be trendsetting (“dated” in not part of my vocabulary. Good or bad food are), but that is delectable and heartwarming. Going there, I was expecting Bernard Pacaud, a Chef widly praised  for his exceptional talent, to make a good impression on me. Fortunately, I got all of  of that at this restaurant.

The overall  may boast an impressive price tag, which most (opinions over the web + among those close to me who are regulars of Paris haute dining  ) have agreed on, but the most important was delivered:  food that  was superbly D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S!  Many Michelin 3-star dinings have pleased me, but I can count with the fingers of my hands the few remarkable moments  when food was as savourish as on this one lunch.  Now that I’ve visited all current Parisian 3 Michelin star establishments –Le Doyen and L’Ambroisie being the only two that I had not visited up to this day (luckily, there are not that many and no newer Parisian 3 star have emerged lately), I can confidently state that L’Ambroisie is — at this moment —- my personal choice for #1 best Parisian three Michelin star (for the record, L’Arpège used to be my personal #1 for a long time, in Paris) .

L’Ambroisie reaches out to my dining expectations and philosophy:  I am not one interested in whatever theatrical or conceptual aspect of food. It is food and its main duty has to be fulfilled: it has to storm my palate for its superior savourishness.  They did it with the highest mastery one might expect at this level of cooking, shining with equal excellence on both the savories and the desserts. But L’Ambroisie went way beyond that:  this type of  decor, the service (elegant, serious and focused) , the way the sommelier did his work  (grace and efficiency),  absolutely everything went in line with what I expect from the best 3-star michelin   ventures.

To quote il Maestro Gualtiero Marchesi, one of my top favourite Chefs around the world: ”’A melody is composed only of the necessary notes‘.  L’Ambroisie, on this lunch was profoundly melodius. Our lives are defined by moments. This was a moment.  A moment of two hours and a half , transcendent and memorable.

If you came to me with such a statement as “””this is currently the best classic Haute french michelin 3 star in operation in the world”’,   I’d reply that  ”’I concur with you””!  This one specific lunch was simply divine. The price? No..No..No..I won’t reveal it simply because as human beings, we tend to overwhelm excellence by material value. Which is not an issue when the experience is average (in which case, I see the $$$ in BOLD!! Rfaol!), but when it is exceptional — as it was with this one specific lunch at L’Ambroisie — I will never let numbers overshadow exceptional dining occurence!  There was,  on this lunch, a feel of remarkable  grace and  profound commitment  for   ultimate delicious  food   that will mark my souvenirs for a long time.

Wishing  you this  same amazement!

ADDENDUM – MY CURRENT FAVOURITE  3 STAR MICHELIN IN FRANCE (I am adding this section just for informative value only; added only to reviews of 2 and 3 star Michelin in France since it’s the country which restaurant scene I did familiarize myself with)  -> L’Ambroisie (this is a tricky one. Pacaud was on the verge of retiring when I lunched there, but he was cooking at lunch time when I was there. Based solely on that visit, it is clear in my mind that L’Ambroisie is simply the best Classic Haute French 3 star Michelin around the globe, let alone in France. Yep, with not one single hesitation regardless of the fact that such claim is always controversial. Now, is it the same when Pacaud is not there? I obviously can’t tell), Troisgros (I am normally not a big fan of the Troigros, primarily because I find it odd that a 3 star Michelin in France would opt for Intl influences as intensively as they do. Ironically, that does not bother me at all at the 2 star Michelin level, Rfaol! Go figure! Lol. But at the 3 star level, in France, Nah. Regardless, when this kitchen is in its prime, it is indeed one of France’s finest 3 star Michelin destinations and it is based on that observation that Troisgros somehow fits among my  favourite 3 stars in France), L’Arpège, Paris (Before I visited L’Ambroisie, this was my #1  three star Michelin in Paris. Many Chefs claim to treat ingredients with passion, which is a claim that I usually do not care about since they have to. But when such claim comes from the mouth of Alain Passard, it means something else. We are here among the exceptional few which love for the ingredient is genuine, not dicted. I am a huge fan of Passard, even when things did not go the way I wanted – for example on lesser impressive meals at L’Arpège —  because I come from a school of thought with  strong emphasis on how to treat and respect the produce from the second you remove it from the soil till it gets into your mouth. It would take an entire article to elaborate on that spectacular journey of the ingredient accompanied by its companion —because to me, that is what a real Chef is about…serving as the guide/companion  to his ingredient —   but Alain Passard was the one that better expressed it ), Les Pres d’Eugenie in Eugénie Les Bains (oh god, it has been a while I haven’t went back, but the souvenirs that I have are unlikely since not much has changed there, for example the kitchen still has the same staff as on my last visit there. One of France’s most solid 3 stars in my own experience, with French classic food delivered with panache /  Chef Michel Guérard)

WHAT I THINK MONTHS LATER:  Bernard Pacaud was behind the stoves on that lunch, and I regret to have discovered him so late at a stage where he is close to retirement.  Well, at least I had this priviledge because this is what I consider as a priviledge:  skills so exceptional that they pertain to my top 5 all time favourite Chefs of the globe, alongside Joel Robuchon, Jacques Maximin, Constant,  Girardet,  Besson.  Again, I never tried this place when Bernard Pacaud is not behind the wheels, so I can talk only for this one instance.