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L'Assiette Champenois - Lallement -near Reims


Fibilou
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We stayed overnight on Monday for a luxury Yuletide "booze cruise" in the hotel, and had the tasting menu "retour aux sources"

Unfortunately I cannot remember the canapés served with our drinks in the bar as I was engrossed by the cognac cupboard (a thing of beauty)

The breads served were brioche, ficelle, a campaillou style roll and a seeded wholemeal variety. Unsalted butter and 2 varieties of salt on the table - sea and plain table. the bread was constantly brought round, I consider myself greedy but was surprised at the sheer quantities of rolls being consumed by the other diners - at the table next to us, 4 businessmen, they were taking 3 or 4 rolls at a time :blink:

First course was described as scallops, lettuce, cepes and champagne vinegar. The dish itself came in 3 plates and actually consisted of 3 variations on the scallop theme - one served with an emulsion and cepes, one on a very thick puree of lettuce and the final one served with a warm champagne vinegar vinaigrette and brunoise of beetroot. The beetroot was my favourite presentation. I was not so keen on having 3 plates in front of me - this was a little unwieldy and left one wondering what to do with the empties.

Second course, Sea Urchin with spices and a mousseline sauce. We had not tried urchin before and this was the prime factor in the menu selection. the mousseline sauce was more of a foam, and was extremely light. This dish was certainly, erm, interesting, and no doubt extremely good if you enjoy the unique taste and texture of sea urchin. We gamely finished the dish, but I would have been grateful for more of the foam. i would not choose it again !

The 3rd course was a fillet of John Dory served in a light vin jaune sauce. Vin jaune is a dessert style wine from the Jura region of France with quite a particular taste. This worked extremely well with the dory and was very succesful in retaining the fresh flavour of the wine. An excellent dish.

the "main" course was venison fillet served with a coconut sauce. this was very artistically served but was a very small course indeed. The sauce was again served as a foam, and I think this was one foam too many. I did not particularly enjoy the coconut flavour, which did not really do much for the venison. It was served with jerusalem artichoke puree, which was very tasty.

Cheeses were served from the trolley, a wide variety of goat, cow, hard and soft. If i remember rightly I chose Langres, gruyere, boulette d'avesnes (my guilty pleasure) and a soft, local goats cheese. The cheeses were in excellent condition and there were a lot of champenoise cheeses. The waiter knew what he was about and made some good choices for my husband who is fond of soft cheeses adn blues. There were not many blue cheeses on the trolley, which was a shame.

Following the cheese were the mignardises, which were a parade and served on the most delectable selection of silverware I have ever seen. Small trays with the chef's name engraved on them on which were served doll sized eclairs and the chocolates. Served on a silver half grapefruit with holes in were two sticks of candy floss, just like at the fair ! there were sugar lollipops, palmiers in silver salvers and my personal favourite, some jellies and truffles served in a solid silver cocoa pod. I was only sorry I didn't have a larger handbag..... :hmmm:

I know we had dessert, but I can't remember them :angry: It was a selection of 3 desserts again, all on a chocolate theme. I know they were fantastic, but.. oh well. One of them, a light chocolate mousse involved popping candy and there was also a chocolate popsicle.

Espresso was served with yet more chocolate, I'm at a surfeited collapse at this point and have to admit defeat.

We were given a brioche to take home as well.

The food here is very good. I have eaten in better two star restaurants (Chez Dominique in Helsinki being the best) but all in all it was a very pleasant experience. They clearly have a very good pastry chef because all the sweet items were a real knockout.

i had read some very bad reviews of the restaurant on tripadvisor, but it just goes to show that lots of the people there aren't very interested in nice dinners ! The service is attentive but not overpowering, although the wine staff are rather puffed up wtih their own importance. However, they did manage to make one bottle of champagne last the entire meal, so I shouldn't really complain ! The wine list has a lot of champagne, as you would expect, with countless permutations and houses. Most of the people in there were drinking blanc de blancs (as were we - Philipponat 1996), and they certainly have a very comprehensive selection.

Very nice meal, at 150e per head plus 85e for the wine.

Edited by Fibilou (log)

www.diariesofadomesticatedgoddess.blogspot.com

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I also enjoyed L'Assiette Champenoise on my last trip to the Champagne region... we had a similar course to your scallop course, but it was with langoustine 3 ways on 3 different plates....

At the time, August 2006, I had thought that they were deserving of more than their 1 star Michelin ranking... they did many interesting things with products being used in a study - different sauces, cooking techniques, etc..., and had an excellent cheese cart - one of the better Pont L'Eveque I've had...

Another great experience in that area is Chateau Les Crayeres in Reims... it is a wonderful place to stay, and the dining experience is out of this world... the service there was some of the best I've seen anywhere, with excellent, interesting food...

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Great review and a wonderful sounding restaurant.

I'd love to add it to the interactive map, but ........

Where is it? I can't find a Lallement town, village or hamlet.

Is it the Lallement street in Rheims?

Please let me know so I can add it.

Thanks

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  • 3 weeks later...

I visited L'Assiette Champenoise last week. It is a 15 minute walk west from the heart of Reims; given this was our first visit to Reims, we thought we should take Shanks' Pony and earn our calories - little were we aware how prescient this move would be.

The walk from Reims does not show exactly an attractive side of Tinqueux; mostly a bunch of shops, petrol stations and a medical complex built along a multi-lane carriageway. So it's very hard to miss the Lallement family property; a fenced-off grand estate with the name proudly emblazoned across it: "J P Lallement," being Jean-Pierre, current chef Arnaud's late father.

The dining room is spacious and luxurious. It does not reach the whimsical Versailles-like extremes of Les Ambassadeurs, but it is plush in a more conventional and modern way. When you are seated, you are presented with the champagne cart and four champagnes by the glass; on my visit, they were Drappier Rose, Henri Abele Brut, Dom Ruinart "R de Ruinart" 1996 and Mumm's Cuvee Rene Lalou 1998.

Start off with an hors d'oeuvre of crispbread with onion confit and goat cheese, and a cromesqui of molten parmesan cheese. A great beginning to the meal; the cromesqui literally exploded in my mouth, filling it with tasty parmesan goodness.

gallery_41540_5571_21403.jpg

We opted for the 65E lunch menu. Great value, but the only con with this one, as opposed to the slightly more costly Les Ambassadeurs and the equally-priced Les Elysees, is that you don't really get a choice, except when it comes to dessert.

Amuse-bouche of carrot foam surrounded by cucumber foam was next.

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We had the same scallops that Fibilou had. Perfectly cooked, and the different sauces enhanced the different aspects of the character of the scallops. For example, you had the acidity of the champagne vinegar, freshness of the "salad cream" and the woodiness of the ceps:

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(From left: ceps foam, champagne vinegar, salad cream)

During lunch, there were only six tables (roughly 16 covers), so there was plenty of manpower to go around. Each time we finished a plate of scallop, the waiter was on hand to whip the plate away. Despite this unnervingly close attention, we never felt like they were intruding into our space.

We also had the same venison as Fibilou, except they must have run out of artichokes, and substituted orange marmalade instead.

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I appreciated how they opted out of the now overdone chocolate sauce, instead interpreting the chocolate as a paper-thin crisp, and how all the elements complemented each other in absolute no-brainer combinations - slight savouriness from the coconut elevating the chocolate; game and fruit; and obviously, chocolate, coconut and fruit doing their thing together.

Phillippe Olivier's cheese was next, rolled up to your table in two wooden carts with special "buckwheat" bread - I cannot recall too well what we selected as we had been eating cheese all week, but I do recall a Coulommiers which had so much more flavour and character than the insipid versions I tasted in Australia. If I needed any more convincing of the value of raw millk or the influence of a great affineur, this was truly the clinching argument.

For dessert, you are given a choice: declinaison du fruits or declinaison du chocolat. What else were we to do? We opted for one each, firstly, the fruits:

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(Left to right: lemon tart dusted with pink sugar; mango meringue with sorbet "exotique"; (foreground) marinated apple with green lemon jelly and caramel; and something I remember as a pineapple and rum milkshake, but that might just be my imagination getting carried away)

Then the chocolate:

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(Clockwise from top left: chocolate mousse with peppermint ice cream, chocolate and coffee foamshake, moussey chocolate something with nuts (you will note A Lallement's signature on the chocolate discs) and dark chocolate tarte with chocolate ice cream)

If these desserts came out one at a time, we may not have minded. But they also came out with the following:

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(Clockwise from top left: cinnamon marshmallow; chocolate cream eclairs; the finest caneles I've had; something crispy and sweet)

And these:

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(Clockwise from top left: lolly tin filled with little caramels, barbe de papa or cotton candy; dark and milk chocolate pralines in a cocoa-bean shaped vessel with the inscription roughly reading as "this chocolate container was made for Jean-Pierre Lallement")

This must have been Lallement's version of "shock and awe" tactics; if nothing else, the fact that these all fitted quite confortably on the table showed how large the table was. I looked queryingly at the waiter and asked "Are we meant to finish all of this?" And he smiled back mischievously "If sir pleases." And it shamed me to see how much damage we inflicted on the sweets, it really did.

It was a fantastic meal; I won't go into the forensics as Fibilou has done a fabulous job on that front, but will comment briefly on a few aspects. I can see how some may baulk at the repeated use of foam. But in my view, I think in all the circumstances, it was justified. I don't think the venison could have stood up to a non-foamed coconut sauce, or the scallops to the ceps for that matter. I believe the foam was used as a lighter medium to deliver just a light hit of the desired flavour into the dish.

Whereas most of the Les Ambassadeurs sweet treats were for adults, this was unashamedly a trip back to your childhood fantasies - cotton candy, lollypops, marshmallows. I cannot remember when I last had them and without coming here, really would not have minded if I never had them again. However I was happy to find that each of the items was of good to great quality, and the kiddie nostalgia angle does not make it any less worthy as a dessert course. Interestingly, the other tables (all French speakers during the tourist low season) scarfed the lot but left the cotton candy untouched.

The service was friendly, very English-literate and were happy to play along to the tempo of the guests. When my wife discovered the orange marmalade (she is allergic to citrus), despite the fact that the dish was half-eaten, the captain took it away and had the lot re-plated with fresh saucing and croustillant chocolate. When we apologised for the inconvenience, he merely said "No, if you think it is difficult for us, we can only imagine how difficult it is for you not to be able to eat citrus. If you need any help or have any problem at all, just let us know."

Lallement himself is an elegant softly-spoken young man. Apparently, he is angling for three stars next year and I wish him all the best. This is a superlative dining experience coupled with a surprising generosity and caring service. And as you would expect of the great restaurants in Champagne, a great list of champagnes and its derivatives; I also enjoyed a red Coteaux Champenois and a snifter of Louis Casters Vieux Marc de Champagne to finish.

And if we can keep the Trip Advisor users away, this place might remain a little more of a secret just for that little bit longer.

Edited for typos, as usual

Edited by Julian Teoh (log)
Julian's Eating - Tales of Food and Drink
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John - Yes sir. If I recall, get to Rue du Colonel Fabien (on the western fringe of town) and keep going. I should qualify that by saying that I do walk rather fast, or so people tell me!

Julien, is Trois Etoiles accessible on the Internet for those of us unfortunates who don't live in France?

Julian's Eating - Tales of Food and Drink
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Thanks for those piccies Julian ! That cocoa pod makes me smile. We were the only people when we were there that ate the candy floss - such a shame ! You had exactly the same candies as us. I still have the lollipops in my baking cupboard at home..

I also forgot to mention that Chef Lallement came out at the end of service to speak to every table. I wish him every success with his 3 stars.

Edited by Fibilou (log)

www.diariesofadomesticatedgoddess.blogspot.com

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