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cabrales

Pierre Gagnaire: the good and the bad

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I am about to cancel lunch reservations on Friday, July 5 at Pierre Gagnaire. If any member is interested in taking over the reservation (which could likely accommodate two through four persons), please Messenger me before noontime tomorrow.  :wink:

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After dining at Arpege on Tuesday night, the model of simplicity it is on all counts, I was interested in seeing how the Pierre Gagnaire approach of bombarding you with tastes, flavors and textures was going to compare. I had eaten Gagnaire’s food just once before in January of 2000 and I was quite impressed. It isn’t unusual to hear people say it’s the best restaurant in Paris, and possibly France. And while I’m not sure if I would have raised it to that level based on my prior meal, it certainly was the most interesting restaurant I had ever been to. Now more then two years later it was time for a refresher course on M. Gagnaire’s cuisine. So with the help of a friend, we were able to secure a reservation.

Pierre Gagnaire is in the Balzac Hotel. It’s a small businessman’s hotel on the rue Balzac just a block from the Champs Elysees. The restaurant is at the top of a steep flight of stairs, just to the right of entrance of the hotel. You enter through a dark, narrow reception area and all of a sudden you find yourself in the main dining room. The room is modern looking with a lovely printed rug and wood paneling throughout. The restaurant is on two different levels. The main dining area makes up the front ¾ of the room, and then there is a step up to a second level with a handful of tables and a glassed in wine cellar tucked away into the corner.

They sat us at what I call would call one of the better tables and they handed me a wine list. My what a big improvement since my last meal. Back then it was sort of a skimpy little list. But here was a nice, thick, fat tome with a multitude of choices. After a bit of browsing, I settled on a 2000 Paul Cotat Sancerre and a 1997 Domaine Gramenon Cote de Rhone Cuvee Meme. Each wine was less then 100 euros. Not an easy accomplishment for quality wines at a three star restaurant. They brought us some menus and that’s when a few difficulties set in. First of all, we were eating with my wife’s cousin and fiancé again and they are not exactly daring eaters. So let’s say the menu was a bit challenging for them. But even if they weren’t there, I’d be lying if I said that I found it either easy to deal with or particularly delicious sounding. In particular after the prior evenings delicious cold Foie gras at Taillevent, we were hoping to find some Foie gras chaud on the Gagnaire menu. As the captain was struggling to take our order (and I have to say it was difficult because none of the food sounded particularly good,) we mentioned Foie gras and he asked us if we would like some warm sautéed Foie gras. So after a little powwow, two of us ordered a mixed Foie gras platter with a few tranches of hot sautéed Foie and a nice scoop of a cold terrine. Off menu at Pierre Gagnaire! I’d like to tell you that the rest of the story turned out well. But it didn’t. Oh our Foie gras was fine enough, but the rest of our meal was no better then living up to 50% of expectations. Our starters were much better then the main courses. I ordered the lobster, which was served in three courses. My wife and the fiancé ordered the duck, and the cousin ordered the St. Pierre.

I wish I could give you the rest of the meal with my typical flair but it was so uninspiring an effort that the words aren’t gushing out of me. That is one of the reasons it has taken me so long to post this. There isn’t much to say about the meal other then it was a model of mediocrity. It was served in the typical Gagnaire style of a series of “plates” with variations of each main ingredient. But different from my first meal there, there was no harmony or rhythm to the meal. None of it seemed to make any sense. I would say that of the five or six small plates they give you with each course, they were running 25% delicious, 25% very good, and the other 50% left you scratching your head. But the worst part of the meal was the duck my wife and the fiancé ordered. The captain talked them into it by describing the duck as slow roasted and “crispy.” What came to the table was a duck breast that was cut into large cubes and tossed in what looked like a brown sauce. No skin or crispiness in sight. I didn’t taste it, but the report was that it tasted like very plain roast duck.

I didn’t love the Sancerre. Cotat’s wines are often denied appellation status because the residual sugar is too high. But this bottle was labeled Sancerre. I found it a bit flabby, too much cat pee tones for my liking. But the Gramenon was a great bottle. Beautiful tones of violet and notes of sage. A little thinner then I like my Cote de Rhone, and maybe it will put on a little weight, but just beautiful to drink.

So I wonder if my experience at Gagnaire has to do with an off night. Or maybe I was just tired this being the third night in a row of three star dining. Or maybe I find Gagnaire’s style of serving lots of plates to be old fashioned, or not a concise enough approach, What I can honestly say about the meal is that it lacked clarity. Not much of a theme. And none of the exciting cooking I found on my first visit. And though I am sure I will go back and give it another chance, I’m not in a hurray to return anytime soon..

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Thanks for your honesty and the time and energy you offered with all of your recent posts.

Some may have realized elsewhere that I am firmly on the Gagnaire bandwagon (based on four meals in Paris since 1998), but I surely understand the feelings of those who may come away feeling cold. I don't have much to say at the moment, but given the nature of previous threads, I'm eager to see where this one will go.

With respect to the overall mediocrity and lack of inspiration, would you generally attribute those to a failure on the level of conception (failed innovation) or a failure to fully realize those ideas (poor cooking)? In terms of clarity or 'theme' (absence of), was that in context of the progression of the entire meal, or within each dish and its various 'side' dishes? How might you specifically describe the 'excitement' you found on your first visit, or more generally, how might you describe, given your experience thus far, Gagnaire's cuisine to someone who was unfamiliar? Do you feel one must enter PG with a certain preparedness or rather an attitude of abandon, allowing oneself to totally surrender to the experience? Perhaps a bit of both?

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Well here are the notes of my last (and first) meal at Gagnaire;

We left our hotel for dinner at 8:45 arriving at Pierre Gagniare just before 9:00. We were having dinner with two old dear friends from Coconut Grove, Florida who were in France attending the same convention that I attended. Pierre Gagnaire is in the Hotel Balzac on the rue Balzac a short block north of the Champs Elysee just one block east of the Etoile. It’s decorated in a clubby modern style and the blue and grey striped carpet dominates the wood paneled room. It didn’t look like it held more than 50 or 60 people for dinner. There is a small glass enclosed cave in one of the corners and it makes the place a bit more casual, all those bottles in plain site. The menu is beautifully printed on parchment and the dishes are listed by the main ingredient. The list of appetizers might be Langouste, Grenoiulle, Poulet, etc. Underneath each food there is smaller print that describes the rest of the ingredients and how the dish is prepared. Each dish was very complicated and listed multiple ingredients. This was obviously “moderne” cuisine. I began to translate the menu ( a specialty of mine) and in the middle Madam Gagnaire approched us. After hearing me run through a few of the dishes she pronounced it “remarkable” and said “you don’t need me." But I could see she passed the word on to the staff that I knew what I was doing. This would pay off down the road. Before our first courses arrived, they served 4 small amuse bouches to each of us. A small spoon like a baby spoon that had the smallest piece of sushi roll you ever saw on it. The size of your thumb nail. I couldn’t tell what type of fish was inside. Then there was a small bowl with green tea cream atop some type of leaves. Then there was a coffee cup of pumpkin jelly and finally a plate that had minced clams that were surrounded by a puree of white beans. Not bad for a start. I started with the chicken done pot au feu style. Brest of chicken at room temperature that was sliced and served in a chilled pot au feu, like glace of chicken broth. It was piled over some type of leaves. I forgot to check the menu and exactly what they were escapes me. Curry leaves, mustard leaves (is there such a thing?) The greens gave it a mild herbal flavor. 1990 Nicolas Joly Savenierres Coulee de Serrant was the wine we started off with. It was a pale golden color and it was fresh and light on the palate. Never having this wine before I couldn’t judge it properly but it didn’t have loads of stuffing. It was an elegant wine and we all enjoyed it. 89 pts but for all I know the wine is closed and will blossom into a gem one day. I’d certainly like to try it again. We certainly had no trouble draining it quickly. Before the next course I asked for the wine list again and while I was cruising through the white Burgundies the assistant sommelier sidled up to me and started to offer me wines that weren’t on the list. He couldn’t have been more than 25 or 26 years old. Merci beaucoup Madam Gagnaire. The list was populated with expensive bottles of the medium quality vintage variety but he asked me a few questions and then he said “howz about Jobard?” “Which Jobard? “ I said. “Rrremy. I have 1989 Meursault Poruzots. eets not on zee list and eets not expensive. Now that’s what I call a good assistant sommelier. Our next course was Moelle, beef marow. Two pecan sized scoops of soft as butter marrow that was served atop a wafer thin chestnut flour cookie. The cookie was placed atop topinambours (jerusalem artichoke) and black truffles which were tossed in intensely truffled gravy. Okay, this dish was so good I will go out on the limb and say it was one of the 10 best dishes I ever had in my life. You mushed the cookie and beef marrow down into the rest of the dish and it became porridge like with a crunchy consistency given to the dish from the topinambours and a different type of crunchy sweetness from the chestnut wafer. The truffles added a third dimension of firm crunchiness and the marrow was pure unadulterated mush. It was over the top and the entire table was gasping at each bite. 1989 Remy Jobard Meursault Poruzots was delightful. Not the heaviest wine compared to other Meursaults but loads of structure and compared to the Savennieres it had the thickness of motor oil. Sweet and slightly honeyed with a tinge of tropical fruit. A good call by my sommelier buddy. 91 pts. For my main course I ordered Cochon. I had thought I had ordered the one that was cooked en papilotte but they appeared at my table to show me a roasted rack. Well maybe next time. The others were all having fish main courses (hence the Jobard) but my friend Bo wanted red wine so back to the list. Again the same problem and once again my sommelier friend came through. “I have sumsing speciale not on zee leest, howz about Domaine Graemenon Cuvee Pascal?” “Quell an?” Quatre-Vingt Quinze (1995). Bingo. Now even though I got the wrong pork dish, it turned out that I was going to be served pork cooked just about every way imaginable. My main plate had the rack sliced and piled up high, a tranch of boudin noir (blood sausage) and a round of smoked sausage like kielbasa. There was also some cabbage that was sautéed in butter and appeared to be tossed in a light mustard sauce with bits of lardons mixed in. I thought this was it but then they walked up and brought me a slice of crispy bacon served atop some wilted spinach, a small Savoy cabbage stuffed with pork in a sweet and sour sauce (it reminded me of bar mitzvah stuffed cabbage if you know what I mean, delicious) and two chunks of fresh bacon that were roasted. I had a pork symphony before me. It was as much an intellectual experience about the way to prepare pork as a delicious dish. 1995 Domaine Graemenon Cotes de Rhone Cuvee Pascal was spot on as they say. Loaded with spicy, peppery fruit. It had a certain purity to it that I found attractive. I can see people arguing that it’s overextracted but some quality about it kept it from going over the top. Bo and I drained the bottle pretty quickly. It seemed to be too good to just be a CdR and the fact that it is one is making me be cautious of how I rate it but if I didn’t know what it was and tasted it blind I would say 92 pts. Just delicious. We were so stuffed we tried not to order dessert but they wouldn’t let us. We ordered one order of Le Grand Dessert Pierre Gagnaire and 15 little desserts showed up at our table. As we were leaving, my sommelier pal stopped us and said that the chef wanted to meet us and within a minute he appeared in the vestibule and thanked us profusely. A good night. I think I’ll go again.

I am very big on the menu reading well. I have found that the correlation between the menu looking good and tasting good runs at a very high percentage. Like I would say 80%. So when we were all having trouble with the menu I had this funny feeling we might be in trouble. So I guess that point goes to how the dishes were concieved. Because I don't think the execution was bad. The dishes were all prepared very well. It was how they were organized (and that includes the recipes) that left us a little cold. It's funny because at breakfast this morning I told my wife I just posted the Gagnaire notes and we talked about her duck. She called it "wet meat." I don't think a worse thing could be said.

As for the lack of clarity or theme, if you read my notes of my first meal, I speak of how my service of pork was like a small dissertation of the many different (and appealing) ways to present a pig. This meal didn't seem to have the same sense of purpose. I guess it's the difference between serving a lobster in various guises in order to express it's different aspects and serving it three ways because you are trying to craft an interesting dish.

I think your description of how one must enter Gagnaire is accurate. You have to abandon some preconceived notions of how a meal is constructed. But that doesn't mean that the restaurant doesn't have the burden of cooking you a meal that is great within the context of the other meals you have eaten. I also think it might be time for Gagnaire, in the evolution of his cuisine, to have formulated an actual cuisine that is slightly more recognizeable to his customers. Not that he should dispense with his artistic flair, but one would think that after 20 years of doing it that way he would be at the point of his career where he is perfecting what he invented, not disacrding it for even newer inventions. Certainly his cuisine could tolerate both of those concepts going on simultaneously.

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I can't really argue with any of your points, but the report of your first meal there is much more in line with my experience, as opposed to your last! The relationship you forged with the sommelier was special indeed; I think the service at PG can be a bit chilly, but once a rapport of that kind is opened, the synergy is amazing.

I've dined there, admittedly, within a short range of time, but I do sense a certain consistency in the overall vocabulary of his dishes, though I'm at a loss to effectively describe it. I asked if you were able to do so if only to see if another's description in fact gelled with mine. I wish I had been able to dine at the St Etienne version as to have a broader sense of his evolution.

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Some may have realized elsewhere that I am firmly on the Gagnaire bandwagon (based on four meals in Paris since 1998), but I surely understand the feelings of those who may come away feeling cold....

With respect to the overall mediocrity and lack of inspiration, would you generally attribute those to a failure on the level of conception (failed innovation) or a failure to fully realize those ideas (poor cooking)?

I've only had four meals at Gagnaire (including St Etienne) in my life. However, I do not think I can stand going there any more for the next couple of years, unless a friend really wanted to sample the food there or I were otherwise not the decisionmaker with respect to restaurant choice (rarely). Every meal I have had there, including at least two tasting menus, has been poor -- affirmatively poor to very poor for me. I consider it a failure with respect to conception and with respect to the overall approach to cuisine that underlies the process of formulation dishes and approaching the utilization of ingredients. At Gagnaire, one cannot really taste the meaningful ingredients in a dish because there are so many of them, in general. Also, there is a very heavy hand with the utilization of certain ingredients, like argon oil. I noticed this (not for the first time) when I dined at the restaurant last month. A guinea hen or similar small fowl seemed fine when it was brought to us in its cooking container. However, when it reappeared, it was overwhelmed by a large amount of argon oil, which is itself a very aggressive ingredient in my mind. I couldn't finish this dish. During the same meal, a feuillete (or similar item) of summer truffles was so dry and bland and unaromatic. And the desserts are most egregious part of Gagnaire meals. They are brought out with such confidence that it is almost depressing when one samples their tastes. The same for the multi-plate (usually, at least three plates) cheese course. :hmmm:

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Steve, its unfortunate that your meal at Gagnaire was such a bust.

The question that I've been waiting to ask you. I recall that you visited Daniel shortly before leaving for Paris. From the standpoint of the food alone, on an individual dish basis, how would you compare Daniel's dishes to the Paris restaurants?

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And I certainly appreciate Cabrales opinions, given her extensive dining experience, confidence in her taste, and her willingness to return as often as she has. Gagnaire may not be for everyone, and I don't think disdain is a reflection on anything but the subjective experience.

As a pastry chef, I obviously look to the dessert as an important anchor to the meal and I pay extra attention to the transition and its context in relation to the dishes that come before. I surely love the concept behind the Grand Dessert, but I will concede not every dessert item I've sampled reached the highest level for me. But then my own desserts have their shortcomings as well! In general, I do find the dessert courses in line with the rest of the menu, more so than most restaurants I've visited. Perhaps the focus on fewer items would remedy the sometimes uneven result of a dessert 'storm.'

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By the way, I dislike the Pourcels' food even more. It's sad that Gagnaire might have "inspired" at least one of them.

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Okay, I think that Daniel and restaurants like it in NYC are at a disadvantage when comparing them to their French counterparts. The level of intimacy and detail that exist at a meal in France is not present in NYC at anyplace other then Ducasse. So if we put that issue to the side and assume that if Daniel was in Paris the scope of the meal would be tweaked accordingly, from the standpoint of conception and execution the food is at the level of a three star restaurant . And in fact I believe that if Daniel was operating a restaurant in France instead of NYC he would have three stars. But he would have to tweak he way he presents himself to conform to Michelin standards. But none of that is to say I had a great meal there. My meal there was just good to very good, with a few stunning dishes thrown in. But there is not much seperating a meal at Taillevent from a meal at Daniel other then the obvious diminution in quality that comes from serving 200 dinners as opposed to 65. And indeed after Vrinat, Daniel is probably one of the hospitable and charming hosts in the restaurant business.

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Thanks Steve. Should I assume that in comparing Daniel to Taillevant you are placing his cuisine at the conservative end of the spectrum?

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At the Daniel level yes. I think the food at Cafe Boulud can be better then at the main restaurant. Not better as in attempting to meet the same standards, better as in more interesting to eat given what it is. Less luxury on your plate and more food.

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Less luxury on your plate and more food.

Amen to that.

Very interesting, Steve. The presentation at Pierre Gagnaire sounds very complex and overfussy. I can understand one course where the main ingredient might be broken out into several dishes, but I had the impression from your post that this happens repeatedly. Sounds kind of annoying.

On the other hand, I wonder if I might have liked the menu, as I think you and I have different tastes when it comes to meat, game, offal and the like. The restaurant has a pretty web-site, but annoyingly posts the menus in a way which makes them hard to read.

But I think I can make out some pigs ears in there, and some various things de boeuf, so it might have got my juices running.

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Wilf - Don't worry. You wouldn't get a portion that is big enough to do more then whet your appetite. What he does is take the central ingredient that you order and offer you many small plates with different preparartions of that ingredient. So it isn't like you are going to get a tranch of woodcock that is going to make your eyes bug out of your head, A small square of the meat is more likely. This style was seemingly broken for my wife and the fiance because they recieved a gigantic plate of wet duck meat. But

where it can be great is if the various presentations, and the various side dishes are well coordinated, which in this instance I don't think they were. But for example, with the lobster they served me what was essentially a mano flan, even though they called it "glace." It was terrific on it's own, but it didn't add anything to the overall dish. And in fact it clashed with the best of the three lobster preparations which was with ginger and citron.

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Steve - on the Arperge thread you said "There is an intangeable element to the meal that makes it worth a price that doesn't correlate with what the ingredients or preparation times might add up to as a function of some mathematical equation. Call it an artistic license the diner has to pay for. But the other side of that coin means the meal is limited to only the most discerning diners who "get it."

Is it possible that you don't "get" Gagnaire, and that the audience for his food is a relatively small one in comparison to other 3 star chefs? (I ask as someone who has never eaten his food).

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Well I guess the meal could be over my head. And it also could be that the spring menu (which is what he was still serving) wasn't a particularly good one. But that isn't my instinct. If the meal wasn't an off night, I would say that Gagnaire has hit a fork in the road. He has been cooking in this improvisational, large flourishes of flavor and textures style for more then 20 years now. Once upon a time it represented the avant garde but I don't think that's true anymore. Gagnaire's notion of unique pairings and combinations has been surpassed by the way the Spanish brigade has thought about, and presents food. In fact I thought my meal at Fat Duck was more unusual then my meal at Gagnaire. That isn't to say necessarily better. It's just to look at them both in relation to where the cutting edge in dining is these days. And I also think that's a different point then how good did the meal taste? And maybe looking back at the meal now, there is an aspect to it that seems dated. That's probably why my gut instinct is that Gagnaire should change emphasis and not stress improvisation and wide flourishes as much as he used to and offer a more concise version of what Pierre Gagnaire's all about. That is as opposed to his traditional emphasis which was always focused on what he can do.

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I appreciate your post on Gagnaire. I have to ask one question. I don't recall your take on tasting menus in general, but did you consider the tasting menu at Gagnaire? I"ve found when faced with a chef I know can be outrageously creative, it may be hard to compose a meal as the listings may not properly convey the sense of the dishes. At such times I am very likely to take the tasting menu. On the other hand I am prone to taking the tasting menu at great restaurants in France, though it's not a hard and fast rule.

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That Gagnaire is so creative, outlandish even, is the reason I have trepidation in recommending him to others. Having enjoyed my previous meal there so much one would assume I have no trepidtaion in returning. Such would not be the case with, or without your report. Plotnicki mentions "fork in the road" and one must always risk the chance that a chef like Gagnaire takes a wrong fork once in a while. I mentioned that I though he did with each and every dessert I had with my meal.

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I consider it a failure with respect to conception and with respect to the overall approach to cuisine that underlies the process of formulation dishes and approaching the utilization of ingredients. At Gagnaire, one cannot really taste the meaningful ingredients in a dish because there are so many of them, in general. Also, there is a very heavy hand with the utilization of certain ingredients, like argon oil.

I am so much of a minimalist in my general thinking and philosophy, but I can't agree that the sum may not be more than the individual parts. I have no need to taste the individual ingredients, it the overall taste of the dish is agreeable. Indeed, this sounds like a sublime subtlety. A heavy hand with argon oil is the exact opposite in my mind.

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Well you have raised another aspect of why a meal at Gagnaire is difficult. The menu really doesn't reflect what you are going to eat. There are so many dishes with each course, many of them not listed on the menu. that in some ways it's like a smack across the face. I was actually thinking of raising this point in my main review but thought it would be better if someone else here evoked it so the context would be framed correctly.

In essence what Gagnaire does is to serve you a tasting menu with many small plates served at the same time. And when I refer to his cuisine as having "flourishes" or I call it "symphonic," it's that aspect of the cuisine I am trying to articulate. But it's also the approach to the meal that I felt was sort of dated this time. I think I would prefer it if he served the meal in three sections, and each section was then comprised of five or six dishes that he served one or two at a time. I think that approach, or some other approach which makes the diner more focused on each plate would bring a little clarity to the cuisine. For example, my lobster three ways had three little plates laid out in front of me with three other plates of various side dishes scattered about. In many ways the side dishes were a distraction. I think I would have like it more, and he would have made a clearer statement if he served the three lobster preparations like they lay out three pieces of different quality toro in front of you. There is an inherent way to eat them built into the way they serve it to you.

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I think you need to have a submissive streak to be able to enjoy Gagnaire's cooking. Those who tend towards control-freakishness hate the restaurant, or at least that has been my observation. Those who are willing to go blind into a degustation, and who are relatively free of strong culinary dislikes, are more likely to have rewarding experiences there. Do they have a carte at El Bulli? I don't even know, because the idea of having anything other than a multi-course chef-determined tasting at El Bulli is inconceivable. Gagnaire offers a carte but I think it's only relevant to those French businessmen and not to gastronomic tourists like all of us -- from my perspective the only menu at Gagnaire is the tasting menu. Gagnaire is definitely not for everyone, and to top it off the reports of inconsistency there are legion. But if you are able to buy into the whole experience and style and you're there on a good day it seems like the best restaurant on Earth for those few hours.

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I am receptive to any restaurant experience -- I don't have meaningful dislikes, except for water chestnuts and chocolate. It's not a diner's openness, in my mind, to absorbing the Gagnarian experience. It's a question of what there is that is good about that experience.

By the way, I will add that Gagnaire does have a strong notion of what he perceives to be best for the client. Once, I was dining with a party of 6+, and we all ordered the tasting menu. However, there were a la carte dishes that I wanted to sample. I asked if we could have the dishes added to (i.e., not substituted for) dishes in the tasting. The dining room team member rather seriously told me that that was inadvisable because it would disrupt the flow of the meal. :hmmm: Frankly, if a restaurant takes that position, it better produce an amazing meal. Of course, the meal was mediocre. :sad:

As previously mentioned, I have mentioned to this chef that I do not prefer his cooking. I told him I thought it was overly complex, with too many ingredients in a typical dish. If he hadn't asked me, I wouldn't have taken the initiative to tell him.

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I'll go along with that Fat Guy said with one small observation of my own. Most tasting menus are served one dish at a time. In response to some answers here, I've given Gagnaire a little poetic license and said maybe he should serve two. But what he does is serve 4-6 at a time. And while when it is working it can be fantastic, when it isn't working it compounds the negative aspects of his cuisine. But I am raising a further question about that approach which is to ask if it is somewhat dated? The "shock value" of getting a small plate of sweetbreads with your John Dory (which is what he served the cousin) doesn't seem as cutting edge anymore.

This part of the conversation reminds me of how men who dress stylishly usually start dressing more conservatively as they get older. Yes they keep their stylishness and flair, but they have compressed the essence of themselves into smaller touches that often make an even stronger statement. Brash and outwardly bold statements wear well with the young. That's my best take on it from this vantage point. Which is basically my gut because I'm not experienced enough with Gagnaire's cuisine to really formualate an opinion I would call conclusory.

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I appreciate that I wasn't asked this question, and I am not conveying arrogance, but I know Gagnaire meals are not over my head. Maybe that's why Gagnaire isn't getting even more negative assessments -- people who go there and don't quite enjoy his food might harbor a bit more doubt as to whether they are "ready" to perceive Gagnaire's "brilliance" and whether they are missing something in not appreciating dishes. :hmmm: Because Gagnaire is viewed by a certain segment of diners with unjustified reverence (or deference), diners might question themselves a bit more when they encounter food that is not particularly delicious. :hmmm:

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Steve, I'm not sure modesty becomes you. Go for it :raz:

Serioudly, the restaurants on your trip which appeal most to me right now are Taillevent (where I've been) and Chez Georges. And I am more intrigued by Gagnaire than Passard, although the clutter of dishes on the table must be horrific. Sounds like Craft. :wink:

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