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cabrales

Pierre Gagnaire: the good and the bad

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Paul, I don’t believe that Gagnaire’s absence was the reason for the inconsistency of this particular dinner, and would be surprised if at an establishment of this magnitude the quality of the meal depended on the presence of the chef. On the other hand, one frequent criticism of Lucas Carton is that Senderens is in the kitchen only once every two weeks(?), resulting in both the lack of spark in new creations and less care in the preparation of the old dishes. (I have to say, however, that my lunch at Lucas Carton this May, comprised solely of its classics, was magnificent.)

Going back to your original question, the inconsistencies we observed related to two aspects: 1) the flow of the meal, i.e. the logic of the progression of flavors and tastes and appropriate balance not only within the individual dishes but among them as well; and 2) Gagnaire’s infatuation with unusual spices and ingredients and their application to the traditional French haute cuisine, which seemed on occasion to produce nearly inedible food. These are problems of concept, not execution.

I remember 20 years ago I attended a concert performed by Maestro Evgeni Malinin, a known Chopin pianist whom I admired for his unique touch and musical interpretations. Apparently, it was one of those miserable days when the worst fear of every musician materialized, and Malinin simply struggled to remember half of his repertoire right on stage. Of course, his primary goal was then shifted from the high level of logic, musical line, emotional perspective, Chopen-specific sound etc., to the most primitive purpose of “getting back home in one piece.” Occasionally though, the pianist was carried away from his fears, and extraordinary music was born until it would collapse again. These moments were simply not enough to insure my ever again wishing to listen to Malinin on stage.

After such a contrast, one has to ask whether the disappointments would be greater than the “return on investment” to proceed with future explorations of Gagnaire’s cuisine. The answer is, of course, strictly personal.

ballast_regime, thank you very much.


Edited by lxt (log)

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Indeed, I do agree that the absence of Gagnaire should not play a role. I have been three times at Gagnaire, of which at one occasion the chef was not in. I didn't notice any difference.

(However, I wasn't that much impressed by Sketch, and I am sure that the precense of Gagnaire there [but that wasn't the case] would probably have made a difference.)

Furthermore, everything that happens in such a restaurant kitchen is team work. So there are many times in the cycle in which the several levels can correct.

So I suppose you are right that you noticed a concept problem.

(The comparison with a Chopin player seems more difficult to me. Performances at that level are not at all team work but highly depending on that person at that very day; at the top there is never routine, and you may have as a person a bad day as performer.)

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If there is one thing that can be stated with a certain certainty, it is that Gagnaire is consistent in being inconsistent. There is little use in comparing Gagnaire meals from one year to another, and the fact that my meal at Sketch about a year ago(?) was nearly the best we had in London during a trip that included Gordon Ramsay, The Fat Duck, Petrus (the worst meal), etc. may be absolutely meaningless in identifying the status of the restaurant today. Sketch is undoubtedly Gagnaire’s child, and both restaurants are affected by whatever Gagnaire’s passion is at the moment.

Comparing the two meals, the amuses at Sketch were more interesting and coherent, reflecting Gagnaire’s experimentation combining savory and sweet flavors. Chestnut cookie with foie gras, sauerkraut sushi roll with salmon roe, spiced confit of tomato with Arbusier honey, and caramelized grilled scallops found a permanent place in memory and could each easily become a signature dish. The mains were much weaker overall, but more uniform, without the extreme highs and lows of Gagnaire in Paris.

This year, Gagnaire seems to be playing with Middle-Eastern and Asian spices, and the result is not always pleasing. Perhaps next year he will find another passion and his menu will be smoother, but if I do return, I’ll make sure to read carefully other people’s reviews and choose only items mentioned favorably to avoid unpleasant surprises.

As to Sketch, based on recent reports, it seems to have become more of a commercial enterprise, just like the building itself, with watered down cuisine to appeal to the widest clientele, and with a chef who spends not enough time with the master to mater his own technique.

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ixt,

your beautiful, personal renderings of Arpege and Gagnaire represent perfectly the only reason i search through the maze of these forums. Once again, bravo, a joy to read and I look forward to you sharing future experiences.

cheers

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manresa, as much as I enjoy recounting my experiences, responses like yours make them worth posting. Thank you very much.


Edited by lxt (log)

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What is the budget for dinner for two at Pierre Gagnaire ? I browsed his website but have not found any price indications and it does not seem uptodate either (actually it still shows a "winter 2005 menu").

Are there any "menu de dégustation" ?


Edited by isabellerossetti (log)

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I was only there for lunch and the cheapest tasting menu was 90 euros..

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Theres a degustation which is a smidgen over E200 on its own

I think alc would be more expensive

In think prevailing opinion is to strongly advise going alc rather than tasting - to be honest alc the dishes are split into so many small bites that you effectively get a tasting anyway, and the dishes on the degustation are a bit duller

Dunno budget E250-400 a head depending on booze? Don't think about the price, just regard it as a sunk cost, squeeze your eyes shut tight and dive in...

J


Edited by Jon Tseng (log)

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Theres a degustation which is a smidgen over E200 on its own

I think alc would be more expensive

In think prevailing opinion is to strongly advise going alc rather than tasting - to be honest alc the dishes are split into so many small bites that you effectively get a tasting anyway, and the dishes on the degustation are a bit duller

Dunno budget E250-400 a head depending on booze? Don't think about the price, just regard it as a sunk cost, squeeze your eyes shut tight and dive in...

J

Thank you for your reply !! I am not thinking about the price, this will be part of my year of "special birthday celebration", so I am simply thinking of the budget for the year :smile:

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There is nothing budget about Gagnaire. Be prepared to spend big..

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There is nothing budget about Gagnaire. Be prepared to spend big..

I agree! I went there for lunch about three years ago, before the €90 menu came into play: Three of us, desserts on the house, a more than reasonable bottle of wine, water, coffee = €200 per head. If you want to go for a special celebration you have to look upwards of €400pp(If you take ONE 'cheap' but decent bottle of wine).

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CA-CHINNNG!!!!

Well worth it when he hits it. Stunning.

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Anyone know the operating hours of Gagnaire? Will the restaurant be open between the dates of august 5- august 20?

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What is the budget for dinner for two at Pierre Gagnaire ? I browsed his website but have not found any price indications and it does not seem uptodate either (actually it still shows a "winter 2005 menu").

Are there any "menu de dégustation"  ?

Have been there last 18th April.

Dinner for two, ( tasting spring menu ) with wines by the glass 625 euros.

I think they have cheaper menus, like "Le menu du marché de Pierre Gagnaire".

Anyone know the operating hours of Gagnaire?  Will the restaurant be open between the dates of august 5- august 20?

Yes, it will be open in August.


Edited by PauloR (log)

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going alc rather than tasting - to be honest alc the dishes are split into so many small bites that you effectively get a tasting anyway, and the dishes on the degustation are a bit duller

I was sorely dissapointed by the degustation menu at Gagnaire the one time I went. Only afterwards was I advised that alc was the better option. Drat!

From what I remember of the alc menu, it's not difficult to spend 200-300 Euro/pp on food alone.

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going alc rather than tasting - to be honest alc the dishes are split into so many small bites that you effectively get a tasting anyway, and the dishes on the degustation are a bit duller

I was sorely dissapointed by the degustation menu at Gagnaire the one time I went. Only afterwards was I advised that alc was the better option. Drat!

From what I remember of the alc menu, it's not difficult to spend 200-300 Euro/pp on food alone.

I've had both & both were stunning- agree with jon - so much gets added on top of what you think you've ordered

If going alc & there a scallops with grapefruit jam dish - don't miss

the tasing menu is 11+ courses - some course have 3,4,5+ individual dishes

either way - just sit back, relax & don't eat too much bread

700e for two seems about right if you don't go crazy on the wine

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I was sorely dissapointed by the degustation menu at Gagnaire the one time I went.  Only afterwards was I advised that alc was the better option.  Drat!

From what I remember of the alc menu, it's not difficult to spend 200-300 Euro/pp on food alone.

That hasn't been my experience. My last two dinners there were 'omakase'. I didn't order the tasting menu exactly, the kitchen just did whatever they felt like doing -largely similar to the degustation menu but with a number of different dishes.

They were both fabulous.

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Since this restaurant is now ranked the 3rd in the world by the Restaurant magazine, we had to make a trip to Paris last wkend. Both of us had the degustation menu. We had few glasses of wine... EURO$580. Unlike in US or Canada, the menu price in Paris already included tax and tips.

I had my cheese course, but my fiancee doesn't want the cheese course, so Pierre created few more desserts for both of us as a substitute.

In total, we had 8 courses plus a cheese (not her) and a sorbet plus nine more dishes of desserts.

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Do you know how rare photos of Gagnaires food is? Have no idea how you managed to take them but glad you did. :biggrin:

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Wow, these are super photos. The meal looks like it was gorgeous! Thank you so much for sharing them with us. :smile:

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Do you know how rare photos of Gagnaires food is? Have no idea how you managed to take them but glad you did.

True that! I've never seen Gagnaire's food before.

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Amazing......everyone should add to archive.....great!!!!! Some of the dishes look very simple.....almost UNGAGNAIREISH.

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kkwchan: do you happen to have high-resolution versions of those photos that you'd be willing to share? I collect glorious food photography!

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