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Everything posted by julot-les-pinceaux

  1. Because I never had very good food at any Ducasse outpost, let alone any culinary emotion, despite countless tries, and I often had very excellent food, if never life-changing, in the Robuchon joints. The way I see it, there is a profound difference of philosophy despite the apparent similarities, with Ducasse focused on industrialisation of a luxury industry and Robuchon focused on the (painful) transmission of know-hows. For instance the Robuchon places, with their respective strengths and weaknesses, and despite the apparent uniformisation, all have strong individual identities determined by the chef who run them. Even if it is basically the same recipe, food at l'Atelier and La Table (in Paris) for example are very different, because Lecerf and Braun are very different chefs from Alès -- I explained that a lot on this and other boards. Felix, I would disagree with the term "perfect" applied to what can be had at the Plaza. The quality of what is served there palishes in comparison to what is served at, say, l'Ami Louis. With the admittedly unclear phrase "pretentious cooking and seasoning", I meant techniques that are more geared towards demonstrating their refinement and exclusivity than determined by the best possible taste. Now, there is nothing wrong with luxury. All I was saying is that this is where Ducasse delivers with excellence, the whole "making you feel rich" part of very high end dining. I just question the idea that the food at Ducasse is anywhere near the best in its style, which is why I don't think the three stars are deserved in Paris. (No opinion on Monaco, never been). Food Snob, I would disagree with you about Gagnaire being present: the best meals I had at Gagnaire was he was not in, and the worst ones when he was in. Actually, I think your comment would apply more to l'Arpège and Passard. As I said at the beginning, I think both places, along with l'Ambroisie, are gambles, where absolutely stellar, unforgettable, life-changing meals can be had, but where the statistical probability tends more toward mediocrity unless you're a friend of the house (and even then...).
  2. Flawless it is sometimes -- but perfect is in my experience an extreme overstatement to describe Ducasse at the plaza. In fact, food I has there was always far from perfect, except in the sense that it was perfectly luxurious. Cooking, seasoning, were more pretentious than successful -- a treat of many in the Ducasse school, Piège chief among them. In fact, the strength of the establishment today is to deliver on luxury. But by no standard on truly great food.
  3. The higher end the restaurant, the more different they are from one another -- that's what a three star restaurant is: unique. So apart from the mere possibility to get a table (might be an issue for l'Astrance in particular), the day you want to go and your budget, the way you chose is by specifying what you like and what you expect and what your tastes are. To check prices and opening days, see www.viamichelin.com Of course, I could also point out that some two star restaurant are worth three (le Cinq) and some three star restaurants are not worth it (Ducasse). L'Arpège, l'Ambroisie and Pierre Gagnaire are the best in town if you judge a restaurant by the best food it can deliver. They're all gambles, as meals are not always good but always very expensive. However, they are unforgettable when they are good. Of the three, Gagnaire is a safer bet because it is still special even when it is bad. Arpège has a minimalistic, vegetable and long cooking oriented cuisine with an almost casual room for a three stars. L'Ambroisie has a godly perfection approach to cooking, and is an austere place. Ledoyen is almost as good as l'Ambroisie when it comes to perfect ingredients and perfect cooking. It is also spectacularly located. But it's an old house with a tired service. Great lunch deal at 88€, but be careful with water, they charge fortunes for it. L'Astrance is the contemporary restaurant of the lot, with a charming approach, very virtuoso cooking. Savoy is wonderful for the show it sets up, the overall experience. Food is good not great, barely two star levels. But an incredible party that makes you feel special. You can find pictures of many of them on my phot gallery -- picasweb.google.fr/zejulot and quite a few blog posts at www.julotlespinceaux.com
  4. Good butchers don't "wet age" then. If you want wet age you can buy some Charal from the supermarket and just let it past the expiration date. As you say then, good butchers normally dry age here in France.
  5. For beef, safe best include Les Boucheries Nivernaises (rue du faubourg Saint Honoré) and of course Desnoyer (rue Boulard). Even with a good French butcher, make sure to say that you want well aged beef as this is an unusual request and you will get 10 days old beef if you're not specific. Speaking of which, can anyone explain to me the difference between dry-aged and the way beef is aged by French butchers?
  6. I would have sent those pasta back. How they dare serving that in a socalled three stars is baffling to me, and yet another part of the Pré Catelan mistery. How was the lièvre itself?
  7. Just like many of us, he's looking for a job and pretending he has secret plans. (Just my guess, not information)
  8. When I lived in Munich, no butcher even knew what Simmenthal was.
  9. I went to Savoy's website and found out that, until tonight, there is a 200€ tasting menu including beverage (champagne for starter, one glass per course) that works not only for lunch but also for dinner at 10pm (Savoy was always one of the few fine dining establishments to serve very late). See there: http://www.guysavoy.com/popup_fr.html Now is this the death of the 100€ lunch? I don't know. In any case, this appears as a pop-up, just like the 100€ deal did. It might be that you have your browser's settings on "don't save me money"
  10. Last we were, we did have it in two services -- cause we asked (insisted?). But instead of bringing the rest of the same pie, they brought a brand new one, arguing that the rest of our first one had waited too long. They would never tell me what they really used it for.
  11. Just to correct that Rostang's "club" menu is 94.50, not 89.50 . You know I'm good at maths -- but not with numbers. Never was.
  12. If three stars are important for you, then the only lunch deal I would recommend under 100 is Ledoyen -- it is exceptional, but be careful with the cost of water. Le Meurice and Le Bristol also have lunch deals but they're subpar, in my opinion. Savoy, Gagnaire, l'Arpège are all very special places but will blow your budget. There are indeed great deals in two star restaurants -- as Olivier mentions, there's of course Le Cinq at 78, Lasserre at 75 (only thu-fri). Even better are the deals including drinks: 85€ at La Grande Cascade (also at night), 89.50 at Rostang (just wonderful), 60€ at La Table de JR, 60€ also at Sormani.
  13. Many thing are, but going ALC adds up pretty quickly. I would not. But since you asked: the white truffle dish, the razor clams, the scallops, the abalone, the pig, the lamb, the raw foie gras, the rognon de veau, anything with puff pastry. Skip desserts.
  14. I'm not sure he'll still do the Pithiviers in January. Best thing is to call them and ask. While I suppose you could order it for one, they might charge you for the full thing (unless you actually get a part from someone's else).
  15. Coming from Gagnaire, the whole thing looks surprisingly classic.
  16. Great pictures and you seem to have a new camera. The dryness of the meat you mention is nevertheless a significant flaw in my opinion.
  17. Haven't tried the Lièvre at Bascou, but tried Bascou and thought it was crappy. I'd stay with Besson, Senderens, Fréchon.
  18. I don't know -- one thing is that we made contact with the staff and the kitchen. I'm not sure it's only about professionalism and management. Sometimes you have a connection with people, whether you're a client or something else to them. I felt like we established a special connection with both the waiting and cooking staff -- we shared common interest. All top restaurants are a mix of business and passion. At Loiseau last week, even though I've been a regular for over fifteen years, it was absolutely business. At Lameloise, it felt like passion first, and this made the experience precious. But as we all know, passion is capricious.
  19. I always wondered why Loiseau was not discussed in forums, not now, not before. I had a very excellent meal in Saulieu last friday, though I have many issues with it. Let's start with some of them. First the lunch menu was unacceptably subpar (someone at my table had it), especially a boar civet that was dry and tasteless. More generally, I feel the place, unlike its two main competitors (Meneau and Lameloise) has lost its soul. It is obvious from the ridiculous modern design coexisting with the fundamentally rural house. It is also obvious in the lack of commitment to food in the waiting staff. The feeling is really one of an international place where people don't linger and spend a lot, and too many dishes felt like "stupid fine dining -- why spend so much money on food?". Also, the billing was petty and mean. That said, the technical level is very high and what I got was excellent. Also, hanging out in that wonderful house a good part of the afternoon, smoking exceptional cigars, are very attractive aspects of the experience. The soup amuse was, as was always the case in Saulieu, truly wonderful, always leaving you incredulous that this is just vegetable. This one was white bean. My starter of scallops and parsley root in a jus mariniere au beurre noisette was also pretty awesome. The scallops were not big but they were tasty and perfectly cooked. There was also one abalone and one oyster, and a razor clam with endive and nettle on the side, not sure what they brought. The veal kidney was also wonderful -- it was from a real young mikfed veal, therefore tiny, and roasted in his fat after having been marinated in a special Fallot mustard just developed with chef Bertron, flavoured with apple and macis (nutmeg's powdered skin). Our slightly stupid captain thought I was joking when I asked him to be brought all of the fat after they presented the roasted kidney table side, so I had to ask again when they brought the kidney platted. They brought me another plate of fat, chopped and reheated with the dried mustard seeds that brought a nice crunch. They had saved it just before the trash, or so they said. It was heavenly. Here you can see the meat: Here you can see the stuffed potato on the side and the toast of fat that comes even if you don't ask: The meal ended with their as wonderful as ever Saint Honoré, made on order, which is impossibly light and sugarless and is all about texture, freshness and vanilla. The sauce must have something like 40 beans in it and is almost liquid (the same stupid captain did not realise he should stir it before serving so we get the seeds...). The bottom is biscuit. The whipped cream is lighter than air, and the choux had that sweetness that comes from freshness, not sugar. The one default of that dessert for two is that they charged it three times because we shared it. As I said before, petty. In comparison, at least if you go ALC, there is no doubt in my mind that the cuisine at Loiseau's is superior at the one at Lameloise's. Yet I will go for Lameloise next time I have a choice, as the house is, in my experience, considerably friendlier and more human, not to mention much more generous. That said, there is another reason for food lovers to go to Saulieu, and it is the cheese shop La Fouchale, one of my favourites anywhere. I don't know of a better crème crue (raw cream) anywhere. They also had a fromage fort that demonstrated the validity of the very concept of fromage fort. Yum anyway.
  20. I agree that Lesecq is the best thing about le Meurice and can be quite impressive. A pity you have to go through the meal first. Not sure that it's open on weekends either. I am less impressed by l'Arpège and l'Astrance than Food Snob is, but they are definitely light. I think highly of the desserts at Ledoyen -- but it's also open mon-fri. Not a restaurant pastry chef, but you may not miss Génin of course. Ducasse has his chocolates and caramels, so does l'Agapé -- but they're also closed on weekends. Savoy's dessert experience is unique and is nearly half the meal, but it's not particularly progressive or even admirable as a pastry job. Gagnaire is always special and has endless desserts as well. And he's open on sunday nights.
  21. He has lièvre on the menu, I'm not sure that he'll have it à la Royale, and when I had it last year, it was good not great. I'd focus on Fréchon, Senderens and Besson for Lièvre à la Royale.
  22. I just had one of the most perfect meals of my life at le Cinq, and it was the 78€ lunch deal -- it was the first time I found the Le Cinq expérience superior to what les Elysées was when Briffard was there. In fact, it compares with my Lucas-Carton and Bernard Loiseau memories. Highlights included razor clams with ginger, seaweed butter, spinach, tomato, almonds and, I'm sure, many other things. The most unique thing about Briffard is how incredibly complex his recipes are but how simple they taste. Litteraly tens of ingredients are mobilized, but they're just here to magnify the excellence of the main ingredient. The same was true about an awesome course of gigantic scallops, intensely sweet and tasty, with all sort of little goodies on top like small grey shrimps, raisins, shaved clams... On the side was a cylinder of marinated cauliflower, and also an endive caramelised with orange juice. This brought back memories of Loiseau's scallops, when he was on top of his game. The main was tête de veau sauce tortue, with a fried egg (and also some brain on the side), and it was sooo simply perfect (though, there again, it's probably as simple as twelve ingredients). As usual, desserts were good but uninteresting, unexciting, classic -- skip them and join my campaign for letting Briffard take over the pastry department.
  23. Went to l'Opportun yesterday and it was pretty good and typical and copious. Not cheap, though.
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