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Hectorp

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  1. Hectorp

    Perilla

    I just took 5 daughters to NYC and the visit to Perilla was a highlight. Everything was solidly excellent. Pardon this impressionistic and non-professional food critic comment but if the lamb were any more tender it would have been foie gras... The carpaccio was wrapped around some greens and there was a crispiness to the stuffing that ingeniously set off the tenderness of the thinly sliced beef. One of my daughters had the roast chicken which was perfectly prepared. The service was extremely unaggressive...to say that no one was trying to upsell anything is a tremendous understatement...which is fine, just unusual when one is used to having to repel waitstaff to some extent. We had a late reservation (10PM) and we watched as they shut down and Harold came out from the back in a Tshirt and just hung with the staff at the bar. You can tell that the people love working for him...just such a decent person. Long live Harold. My wife and I will be coming back for our 10th anniversary in November. I would definitely recommend it.
  2. Hectorp

    Jules Verne

    I always wondered about Jules Verne and now I know. Excellent and entertaining post. I look forward to the next 10.
  3. John: Thanks for the digest. The Babelfish translation of the Taillevent blog was a little bizarre. I feel like writing Mr. Vrinat a warm message of solidarity. I feel like I could stand with a rustic pitchfork outside the Michelin HQ. This sudden passionate surge...this sense of having been wounded and wronged on the topic of cuisine...have I just turned into a Frenchman?
  4. Hectorp

    Michelin 2007

    Sorry for these rambling thoughts, but taking 3 stars from Taillevent puts a furrow in my brows...I'm perplexed...perhaps the best reaction is like some of the others here have done...viz, dismiss Michelin. In some way it almost seems like saying that Thomas Jefferson really wasn't that great of a genius because...well, now we have Velcro, Post-it Notes, iPods and Plasma Screen Television. In other words, we've redefined genius and you no longer count. Has Taillevent actually slipped in quality? or does 3 starts now mean something different? They may be just a tad old fashioned, but what's not 3 stars about Taillevent? Don't they almost define the category? The care that Mr Vrinat takes with his guests makes people feel like they're being invited into some private heaven. The food is presented in a perfect way and the total experience is gemlike and fascinating. What do you want, mermaids? I also read the Toddhunter book...so I'm aware of the issues...but, if the whole Taillevent enterprise is dedicated to the honorable and high purpose of creating a perfect golden experience for their diners...if that doesn't merit 3 stars...then I feel completely lost. More later...
  5. In "The Perfectionist" I read a paragraph from Pascal Remy's book about the extent to which service impacts Michelin ratings. " When we test a restaurant we take into account the environment, the quality of the welcome on arrival and departure, the surroundings, the general setup, the service and the atmosphere. For the client, a relaxed and considerate welcome is the first pleasure of a meal. The first duty of the restaurateur is to set his clients at ease. The inspector reacts to the warmth and efficiency of the first person he encounters in an establishment. The proper welcome does not improve or alter the taste of the dishes, but it puts us in a good frame of mind." How well said that is... I loved this passage because it uses clear language to describe an emotional effect (which means the writer is not having the feelings for you). The diction is irony-free and in some ways has the same innocent clarity as Homer. I was sad to see that the entire book hadn't yet been transalated into English. It doesn't seem possible that this group wouldn't be familiar with the story of Pascal Remy, but just in case, here's a link to the story: http://www.grumpygourmetusa.com/michelin.htm
  6. When Carmela asked Tony if she could go to Paris, I knew there would be some good Paris footage. I had some interruptions, but managed to catch them in the Cluny Museum and then in Le Grand Vefour. I was happy to see this for selfish reasons...I don't live in Paris so most of the time the city exists only in my mind...so , I'm always happy to see images of the city...especially of the famous privileged interiors...although I'll bet 'fresh_a' is correct...it will now become a pilgrimage spot...I think this may be the only 3-star restaurant into which you can peer from the sidewalk...
  7. There is also a tiny shop in the Marais (just North of the Place De Vosges...less than a block from Ambrosie) that specializes in Absinthe. They are very friendly and I bought some on my last trip. The one I got pretty much tastes like Pernod. The New Yorker article was good and informative.
  8. Ah well. In this argument, all roads appear to lead to hypocricy. Still, there's a diffident part of myself which wonders if it's OK not to want to be seated near certain kinds of tourists? Once in Arpege, I heard the cranky wife of a couple from Texas say, when she was about to order: "Well Ahh don't want to have to open a lahbster." Stuff like that just spoils the illusion...something busboy pointed out. If surrounded by the French, then every syllable reminds you you are in another place...which is the reason you endured a transatlantic flight.
  9. As magnetic a digression a discussion of meal durations can be...I wonder if there's anyone else who has dined at L'Angle Du Faubourg and what their experience was like. By the way, on our walk to the restaurant from Place des Ternes we passed the Caves de Taillevent (sp?) and there was a wine tasting event going on in the warmly lit interior. I was tempted to abort the dinner and join the little party. Chris
  10. I didn't mean to stumble into that religious argument. What I really meant to say was that we felt that there was more waiting than was completely welcome. I'm not an exclusive advocate of any particular meal duration. I've had a 3+ hour meal (at Taillevent at Lucas Carton and Tru in Chicago) which I felt was exactly the right length....because of the way it was orchestrated. But it's all about pacing. You'd probably agree that it takes a certain attention to sequence to sustain a meal of 3+ hours and not make it feel like there are huge crevasses in your interest in the experience. I could go to the symphony to hear a piece that was written to last an hour...and if the orchestra takes two one hour breaks in the performance...of course I could talk to my companion during the silences...but my irritation with that experience doesn't mean I couldn't deal with a symphony that was actually written to last 3 hours. Why would you say it should have taken an hour and a half? This is a serious question. With 4 courses,you had an aperitif, wine, coffee,after dinner drinks, and perhaps some Amuse Bouches? How about a conversation with your dinner companion? Part of my complaint to French restos lately is that they cater to the American need to rush thorugh dinner. I find most bistro meals take about 2 hours. so 2 1/2 hours for a four course seems pleasant to me. Again it is different expectaions for different parts of the world. If this meal had only taken 1 1/2 hours I think most in Paris would of been extremely displeased. ←
  11. My wife and I were just in Paris last week and we tried L'Angle Du Faubourg, Jean Claude Vrinat's other restaurant at the corner of Rue Balzac and the Rue Du Faubourg Saint Honore (about 4 blocks North of the Champs Elysees). I believe this is a Michelin One Star...and I would say comfortable being there (i.e., no apparent ambition to move up the scale). General comments: Ambience: Pleasant modern decor with a color scheme in which dark maroon seems to predominate. Interesting variety of guests. I got a sinking feeling when they sat us next to the only other Americans in the place...but what can you do? Service: I saw someone mention in another post that Lucas Carton had reduced prices by "down-skilling" the staff. I would say that the same approach has been taken here. The sommelier was good, but the wait staff was junior, scant and stretched very thin (there seemed to be about 1/5 the number than there were at Taillevent). The meal took about 2 1/2 hours (which is more normal for a 3-star service), but it only needed to take about 1 1/2. The other hour was just because they were too busy to be normally attentive. Food: I apologize for no pictures or precise titles...the standards of food reportage here are very high...but then I understand that they they change their menu frequently anyway. The quality was very good...with about the same proportion of hits and misses that I have gotten at a Paris 3 star restaurant. Pumpkin mousse with sour cream on top served in a narrow shot glass. This was excellent and provided the same succession of flavors experience that Arpege's famous egg does (maybe the order is different). There is a salty crust on top, the tangy sour note of the cream and the sweetness of the pumpkin mousse. Delightful. Foie gras ravioli. It was a single ravioli which, for some reason they sat in a bowl of beef consumme surrounded by finely chopped vegatables. The consumme made the ravioli a little rubbery. I just don't hink this was big success. Pigeon. Presentation was good and the flavor was good...but a little austere...my inner comfort food loving self really wanted Pigeon Andres Malraux from Lasserre (stuffed with foie gras and unbelievably tender). Molten chocolate cake. What's not to like? well-paired with a Sauterne dessert wine. In sum. The food was good, the wine was very good and very affordable, the service was friendly but a little slow and inexpert...overall though a pleasant good experience. The bill for two (including a glass each of Dom Perignon, a bottle of wine and dessert wines for each of us) was about 210 Euros. Chris
  12. Ah Eunny Jang, I just formed a crush on you as a result of this excellent pop-culture scenario.
  13. I'd also recommend Lasserre. My wife and I have been to Lucas Carton, Taillevent and L'Arpege and we both found Lasserre to be a very charming Paris dining experience... Please don't read between the lines and think that this is faint praise...Lasserre lost their 3rd star years ago...so what!? Somehow, you can sense the lack of 3-star anxiety in the place as a kind of sigh of relief... They can run an elegant and historically significant traditional French Restaurant without all that corrosive striving. The interior is bathed in golden light, their service is good, the food was really lovely (I'd recommend the Pidgeon Andres Malraux which I would go back for again and their wierd macaroni with foie gras and truffles appetizer). The room is very interesting and elegant...with little putti painted on the ceiling...the ceiling, by the way is retracted in warm weather and even...once in a while in the fall to reveal the night sky; to refresh the room; and, I suppose, to prove that they can. Also...reservations are not impossible to get (I tried two months ahead of time with Guy Savoy last time and couldn't get in); the service is not necessarily of the same Wagnerian Ring cycle length as a 3-star (we were out in two hours...with time to spare for a little bar hopping) and the bill was almost 1/2 what it was at Arpege. In the words of baby bear: it was "just right."
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