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cabrales

Ledoyen

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I had a meal at Ledoyen recently. How could I resist visiting Paris' newest three-star? (I had visited the other newly annointed restaurant, Guy Savoy, several times)

L’Araignee de Mer – Araignee decortiquee en carapace a l’ecume de mer (Spider crab removed from its shell, placed inside the shell, with foam of the sea)

½ Les Crustaces – Craquelin de crustaces, morilles et suc d’asperges (Shellfish with a cracker-type item, morels and asparagus-based sauce)

Les Abattis de Volaille – Timbale de macaroni, fricassee de cretes, sot l’y laisse et quenelles de volaille de Bresse (The Inner Organs of Chicken – Macaronis and a fricassee of crest, “oyster” sections –see La Mere Brazier thread for this chicken part -- and quenelles of Bresse chicken meat)

Les Fraises des Bois – Tapioca et fraises des bois au zeste de citron vert, feuilles de basilic en sorbet (Tapioca and wild strawberries with green lemon skin, basil leaves in a sorbet)

Glass of Gosset (?) Grand Reserve

½ Laville Haut-Brion, 1994 (90 euros) -- happy, happy

Glass of Puligny-Montrachet (between 15 and 20)

A radiant, warm day for this time of the year was the backdrop of my visit to this beautiful restaurant located in a woody area adjacent to the Champs Elysees. The main dining room is on the first floor, after one ascends a wide central staircase, and looks onto significant greenery. A nice environment for a spring or summer lunch, in particular. The decor is a bit old-fashioned, but not in an ugly way. I was comfortably positioned; most tables had a view of the greenery.

The selection of champagnes is presented on a trolley featuring several buckets. The champagne selection is average by the glass, and also by the bottle. However, the selection of white Burgundies was strong. The Laville Haut Brion I selected was rather developed (unusual for its kind on the nose), and a very good choice on my part in hindsight. The color was more developed than I had expected. (I will order this wine again when the occasion arises.) The sommelier appeared genuinely enthusiastic about my selection of this wine, and of the alternative proposal on my part of a Chassagne Montrachet. The white Burgundies were generally reasonably priced for certain bottles, at least.

The amuses were nice : (1) foie gras on a small piece of toast, (2) a freshly deep fried mini spring roll with certain vegetables inside, (3) a small reddish raddish with a green (possibly horseradish) puree inside, and (4) a little pastry item that was so-so. Then, a gelee of red pepper (on top) and cucumber (the bulk of the item), with a grainy sauce of parmesan on top. The sauce was developed, but the gelee was nothing special. In particular, the cucumber gelee lacked refinement.

The spider crab appetizer was good. Presented inside the hollowed shell of the crab, there were (1) a significant amount, at the bottom, of puree of feves or green peas, which was wonderful in texture (smooth, but with some “vegetable” sensations and a certain refreshing quality), (2) a nicely dark-tasting gelee with strands of spider crab, tiny bits of zucchini and red pepper and individual suspended grains of caviar, and (3) a white nage that did not offer much taste on a standalone basis. I liked this dish; the gelee had sensations of the ocean, and the caviar bits were utilized in an unusual manner just as a small side player in the dish. The zucchini and red pepper bits were a bit too crunchy for me. Note I do not generally like red pepper.

The next appetizer was an excellent size for a half order. I liked this dish considerably. Three fat lengths of langoustines were well-prepared and attractively paired with a pigeon-stock-based, medium consistency sauce that had depth and tonality. An accomplished dish, although the langoustines were ever-so-slightly softer than that I would have subjectively preferred. There was a circular sesame wafer, which I considered unnecessary and which reminded me slightly of Pacaud’s langoustines with curry and sesame wafer appetizer (there, the wafer is not circular, if memories serves me correctly). Christian Le Squer is from Brittany, like Pacaud and others. Ledoyen is known for, among other things, seafood.

By this time in the meal, I was already rather happy. The wine was drinking wonderfully. The arrival of my Bresse chicken inner organs entree continued this positive trend. The dish’s macaroni component was average, formed in the shape of a column. There were many parts of Bresse chicken included, all draped in a dark, intense, truffle sauce: (1) two crests, which were smaller than I have had before and which had a relatively soft texture that resembled that of the crests taken at La Mere Brazier in Lyons, (2) a small piece of sausage made with inner parts, which was appealing, (3) two little kidney-bean like items that must have been the kidneys of the Bresse chicken – not particularly strong in flavor, (4) various other inner parts, (5) two small quenelles of a mousse of white meat from Bresse chicken, which were nice and different from usual preparations, and (6) many sot-d’y-laisse or oyster pieces. The sot-d’y laisse were smaller than I had expected, but had a nice dark meat flavor and strong textural components. Another well-conceptualized and -executed dish. Very subjectively appealing in concept and in outcoe. The only weakness was the dominance of the truffle sauce, which is a comment I have on many dishes with sauces containing black truffle. The maitre d’ indicated that the dish is rarely ordered by diners, an observation that was interesting in view of the obvious appeal of the dish to me.

The dessert was average to good, although beautifully presented. A large pool of tapioca, in a white sauce that augmented its vanilla flavor components, formed the bottom part of the dish. Delicious fraises des bois (one of my favorite fruits) had been studded into the tapioca at regular intervals, to form a pattern. On top of this was a thin, translucent, beautiful disc of sugary substance. Then, a wonderfully flavored basil sorbet that was a lovely greenish, graphite greyish color. Finally, a smaller translucent sugar disc sat on top of the basil sorbet. The tapioca was unnecessary in the dish, and its texture was too starchy for my liking (recognizing the tendencies for that sensation inhering in tapioca, which I do not generally like). The mignardises were nice.

Overall, based on only one visit (and therefore premature), a good to very good showing, bordering on very good. This is among the better three-star restaurants in Paris cuisine-wine, although the service (with respect to food, although not for wine) was average for a three-star. One of the appealing aspects about Le Squer’s cuisine is its creative aspects within a framework of a traditional French cuisine. In this way, it (like the cuisine of Guy Savoy, to a much more limited extent) straddles the intellectual divide between the Guy Martin/Taillevent/Lucas Carton/L’Ambroisie-type more traditional cuisine and the other three stars in Paris. Ledoyen deserved its 2002 promotion by Michelin.

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We had eaten at Christian Le Squer's Ledoyen when it was a 2 star and felt that we had ordered badly which accounted for a nice, but not memorable meal.

This year we went for lunch, this is Le Squer's first year of being a Michelin 3 Star. To answer the most important question--yes it deserves to be a 3 star. Le Squer's cuisine is innovative, without forgetting the essentials of fine French Cuisine.

The restaurant is historic, in a park on the Champs-Elysees between Place Royale and le Rond-Point. The present building dates back to 1842 when the architect Hittorff was commissioned by Louis-Phillippe to beautify the Champs-Elysees. In the 90's the decor was restored by famed decorator Jacques Grange. To say that Ledoyen is opulent is an understatement. The building itself is over-the-top with ornate Neo-classical pediments and Grecian colonnades. You ascend a curving, wide staircase to the restaurant which is as glamorous and opulent as the outside of the building. Somehow you have the feeling you should be holding court in this setting with large picture windows, well-spaced large tables overlooking the park land behind the Petit Palais. (It should be easy to find but it took help from 3 Gendarmes for us to locate the right building.)

Although the setting is posh, the service is definitely 3 star as well as warm and not at all stuffy. Most of the diners at lunch were French businessmen; we were the only Americans in the room.

However, the sommelier did try and "upgrade" our selection of wines--

96 Puligny Montrachet, Jules Belin 350ml

95 Cornas, Durard

Both were very good - nothing special, but in accord with our policy of keeping costs down, especially at lunch, we are willing to be very middle of the road. The Cornas was quite good with the duck which demanded a big flavorful wine.

It is the food which makes Ledoyen worthy of being a must do destination restaurant.

With our coupes de Champagne, we were served four small amuse--a small rectangular "egg roll", a cherry tomato filled with foie gras mousse, a toast point of foie gras terrine, and a sesame dotted pastry filled with a sharp cheese.

The second amuse was a martini glass filled with cold cannelini bean puree, whole cannelini beans, sliced sardines and topped with cannelini foam--small croutons added crunch--absolutely delightful.

Entree:

My husband--a cepe mushroom soup with small cepe mushrooms and a quenelle of mushroom. This simple description does not do justice to the soup--sensational.

Me--5 frogs legs done beignet style on top of a parsley/garlic potato puree with garlic chips for crunch and a touch of the puree as a foam - wonderful!!

Main:

We both had duck--instead of thin slices of duck, we were served 2 thick "duck steaks" rare with turnip and fruit slices, julienne of orange with a rich orange infused duck sauce--the dish is reminiscent of the classic duck a la orange, but much more contemporary in presentation and taste.

Pre-dessert:

Hazelnut in a sugar caramel coating with a cigar shaped chocolate-covered tube filled with coffee pastry cream.

Dessert:

A millefeuille of fromage blanc on top of black raspberries with very rich vanilla ice cream.

Over-all a superb experience--quality all the way - not cheap, but quasi-reasonable for France, 2002. We did not feel that we were short on value, probably 20% more than a similar lunch would be at a good restaurant in NYC or San Francisco--but there are a lot of extras, amuses, pre-dessert that you don't see in the U.S.

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Lizee

It is great to see other people enjoying Ledoyen. I first went soon after Le Squer arrived and thought he was one to watch. I then went twice more, once at 2 star and once at the new 3 star. I think he is a great chef but I do think he could change his menu a little more frequently. I too had problems with the wine waiter but overall its one of my favourites. I would go back when I go to Paris in November but unfortunately, I now want to try something new but having second thoughts about Ducasse now! :biggrin:

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Lizzee,

Another exquisite report; you make me want to earn enough money to hop the next flight to Paris! :biggrin:

I did have one question: have you sampled the frog's legs done beignet style at Troisgros? If you have time, I would appreciate a comparison/contrast of these two preparations. Ever since I sampled the Troisgros version, I have become very interested in their preparation.

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ajay,

Thanks for your thanks. Yes, I have had the frogs legs beignet at Troisgros 2 years ago. My notes are somewhat sketchy but as I recall the sauce was simple and composed of vegetables cut into 1/16" cubes in an olive oil mixture. The Ledoyen version was more a take on the classic parsley/garlic rendition but used the potato puree in place of the garlic butter sauce. It is not a matter of which was better for each one was equally satisfying. I would say, though, that Troisgros's version relied more on the "crunch" of the frogs legs while Ledoyen emphasized the parsley/garlic potato puree to highlight the dish. Both are 3 star dishes and for me, what I find most exciting, is that two chefs can call a dish frogs legs beignet and end up with equally exciting, unique dishes.

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Thank you for that report Lizziee. I've always wanted to eat there, and now I have a reason other than the building. Isn't this the place with the movable roof? It seems like such a cool place to have a great meal in the heart of Paris yet in the park. Is the lunch reservation a hard get?

As for frogs legs, one of the best preparations I've tasted was at a 2 star restaurant in Maisons Lafitte, La Vielle something. That was years ago, but the taste lingers on in memory.

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jaybee,

I had booked Ledoyen way in advance - all tables were booked - one of the few places in Paris that was full. For example, there were 4 empty tables at Arpege for lunch, Faugeron had empty tables, Elysees de Vernet was half empty. I don't think, however, that it is a hard reservation as long as you give yourself some lead time.

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Dinner on Monday at Ledoyen. A lovely room, warm service. The atmosphere is warm, welcoming, not stuffy, but what the French call correct -- everything precisely in its place, everything done as it should be. Warmth without a trace of informality.

A tray of amuse-gueule: the little "spring roll", the cheese pastry and the foie on toast points mentioned in lizziee's review, plus a stunning little tartlet of pea purée, topped with a perfect pea. This was a slightly formal business dinner, so there wasn't a chance to taste my German colleague's dishes, to quiz the waiter very much, or to discuss them in any detail. We drank a glass of Deutz blanc de blancs '96 champagne to start.

As my second amuse-gueule they brought me a perfect shrimp in aspic, and my colleague had a similar aspic made with vegetables. As a starter I had the signature langoustines, my colleague (who can eat no fish) the most beautiful asparagus dish I have ever seen. The langoustines combined crunchiness and smooth meat from the tail, split in two and served with an olive oil emulsion.

Then my colleague had veal liver and I had "volaille" (abattis de volaille) -- crests, sot-l'y-laisse, kidneys, all sorts of other delicious bits, served in a deep brown sauce that was perfectly clear, the sort of technically perfect sauce so rarely served these days. The waiter warned about what was in the chicken dish -- perhaps he thought I expected a grilled breast -- but I assured him that I wanted as many weird bits (morceaux) as the chef wanted to serve me. Simple, but superb. He was astonished by the liver -- we both fell completely silent as we ate our main course.

Then we split the "5 desserts", which if I recall correctly encompassed chocolate, berries, citrus, caramel and pineapple, the latter served in a meringue. And then mignardises.

Only gaffes were the mint tea that they brought me after the service -- tepid and almost flavourless -- and the somellier's insistence that we had to drink a red wine with the liver, a white with the chicken. My colleague opted for a white -- though I know he would have preferred a red. But with that brown sauce, a lighter red would have been perfectly suitable with the chicken, and he should have known the dish well enough to suggest that. Instead we drank a '98 Puligny Montrachet. It was very pleasant, rounded and slightly spicy, and the waiters kept it just at the right temperature, not too cold. The cheese offering looked astonishing, but we turned it down.

Bill for two with champagne, wine and calvados (le Pere Jules 20 years) was exactly €500: not cheap, but very good value for what it was. You could easily have paid far more than this in London for food, wine and service that came nowhere near this standard. I was struck by the essential simplicity of each dish: each item tasted exactly of what it was, and nothing else. My signature quote from Curnonsky, which means "Real cooking is when the foods taste of what they are", applies more to this chef's style than almost anywhere I have dined. And indeed the menu items are simply headed "Asperges" (asparagus), "Langoustines", "Volaille" (chicken), etc., as if to focus your attention on the core ingredient.

Next time, I will dine at Ledoyen while on holiday, with a companion who is "into food" -- and perhaps thus be able to give a more detailed report.

I reserved two weeks in advance for an 8 pm table on a Monday evening.


Edited by Jonathan Day (log)

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I had "volaille" (abattis de volaille) -- crests, sot-l'y-laisse, kidneys, all sorts of other delicious bits, served in a deep brown sauce that was perfectly clear, the sort of technically perfect sauce so rarely served these days. The waiter warned about what was in the chicken dish -- perhaps he thought I expected a grilled breast -- but I assured him that I wanted as many weird bits (morceaux) as the chef wanted to serve me. Simple, but superb.

I've had the same dish. Below are my comments, from another (unmerged) Ledoyen thread.

Les Abattis de Volaille – Timbale de macaroni, fricassee de cretes, sot l’y laisse et quenelles de volaille de Bresse (The Inner Organs of Chicken – Macaronis and a fricassee of crest, “oyster” sections –see La Mere Brazier thread for this chicken part -- and quenelles of Bresse chicken meat)

...

½ Laville Haut-Brion, 1994 (90 euros) -- happy, happy

                Glass of Puligny-Montrachet (between 15 and 20)

By this time in the meal, I was already rather happy. The wine was drinking wonderfully. The arrival of my Bresse chicken inner organs entree continued this positive trend.  The dish’s macaroni component was average, formed in the shape of a column. There were many parts of Bresse chicken included, all draped in a dark, intense, truffle sauce: (1) two crests, which were smaller than I have had before and which had a relatively soft texture that resembled that of the crests taken at La Mere Brazier in Lyons, (2) a small piece of sausage made with inner parts, which was appealing, (3) two little kidney-bean like items that must have been the kidneys of the Bresse chicken – not particularly strong in flavor, (4) various other inner parts, (5) two small quenelles of a mousse of white meat from Bresse chicken, which were nice and different from usual preparations, and (6) many sot-d’y-laisse or oyster pieces. The sot-d’y laisse were smaller than I had expected, but had a nice dark meat flavor and strong textural components. Another well-conceptualized and -executed dish. Very subjectively appealing in concept and in outcoe. The only weakness was the dominance of the truffle sauce, which is a comment I have on many dishes with sauces containing black truffle. The maitre d’ indicated that the dish is rarely ordered by diners, an observation that was interesting in view of the obvious appeal of the dish to me.

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I didn't find the truffle flavours dominant in the sauce -- the balance seemed almost exactly right. I would have liked it with a tad less salt, but the chicken flavours came right through. I forgot to mention the timbale of macaroni, which was fine (and a nice way to get more of the sauce!) but slightly messy to eat.

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Only gaffes were ... the somellier's insistence that we had to drink a red wine with the liver, a white with the chicken. My colleague opted for a white -- though I know he would have preferred a red. But with that brown sauce, a lighter red would have been perfectly suitable with the chicken, and he should have known the dish well enough to suggest that.  Instead we drank a '98 Puligny Montrachet.
However, the selection of white Burgundies was strong. The Laville Haut Brion I selected was rather developed (unusual for its kind on the nose), and a very good choice on my part in hindsight. The color was more developed than I had expected.  (I will order this wine again when the occasion arises.)  The sommelier appeared genuinely enthusiastic about my selection of this wine, and of the alternative proposal on my part of a Chassagne Montrachet.  The white Burgundies were generally reasonably priced for certain bottles, at least.

Jonathan -- I agree that was a sommelier mistake. I chose a white wine (the Laville, which was developed even relative to a bottle of the same year, in part due to the 1/2 bottle nature of the offering), but that is because I generally prefer white wine with chicken. After the 1/2 bottle had been exhausted, I chose Puligny Montrachet by the glass, after the sommelier described what he had by the glass.

With the intense truffle sauce, even a strong-ish red would have been entirely appropriate from an objective standpoint.

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Jonathan,

I am so glad that you liked Ledoyen.

From both your description and Cabby's, I will have to try it for dinner as the "volaille" is not on the menu at lunch.

I also found that the only service error was on the part of the sommelier who tried upselling us on wine, a rare occurrence in France.


Edited by lizziee (log)

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lizziee -- I wonder if it's a difference between dinner/lunch, or a difference among the cartes from different seasons of the year? Jonathan recently went, and my visit was earlier in 2Q 2002 than the date on which I ended up having time to post about the meal. :blink:

Another potential weakness of the abats dish I sampled (which, to be clear, I liked considerably) was the softness of the crests. As I mentioned, I had sampled them that way before at Mere Brazier, but I had also sampled much denser, almost abalone-like textures for Bresse chicken crests at Georges Blanc. At Blanc, the crests were served with a salad garnish and slices of pigeon flesh, I believe (notes not yet checked).

Also, how would you define up-selling of wine?

Are members aware of other restaurants to sample Bresse chicken crests, or oyster sections?


Edited by cabrales (log)

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The wines we chose were the 96 Puligny Montrachet, Jules Belin 350ml and the 95 Cornas, Durard. They were both good, but as I said earlier, nothing special or extraordinary. Given the state of the euro and the many, many days of 2 and 3 star lunches and dinners, we were trying to keep the cost in reason.

The sommelier was not exactly thrilled with our choice of wine and attempted to nudge us into something 3 times the price.

I can't judge if what we had was a seasonal issue as I have never had dinner at Ledoyen. From your description and Jonathan's the abats dish sounds almost like a signature one.

Was your visit to Blanc a recent one or from years back?

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Within the last 2.5 years. I've visited Georges Blanc again since the meal with the crests dish (not due to my wanting to, but a dining companion did). Yes, the texture of the crests was good, but I have not liked my meals at that place.

I would say the langoustines dish and other seafood items might be Le Squer's signature, although I have never taken the langoustines in. The abats dish was very subjectively appealing to me, because of my interest in chicken. It sort of jumped out at me, when I looked at the menu.


Edited by cabrales (log)

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The wines we chose were the 96 Puligny Montrachet, Jules Belin  350ml and the 95 Cornas, Durard. They were both good, but as I said earlier, nothing special or extraordinary. Given the state of the euro and the many, many days of 2 and 3 star lunches and dinners, we were trying to keep the cost in reason.

The sommelier was not exactly thrilled with our choice of wine and attempted to nudge us into something 3 times the price.

Lizzie -- I am not surprised at the sommmelier's trying to steer you away from those wines. They should not be on a good no-star restaurant's wine list, much less a three-star restaurant's -- I am shocked and awed to hear that they were there. The mistake was not trying to steer you away from them, but not trying to find you compatible wines in the same price range.

Best regards,

Claude Kolm

The Fine Wine Review

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Claude,

I can't add to the above as my husband does the wine and I the food.

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Claude -- If you are comfortable discussing it, could you provide a bit of description on The Fine Wine Review reference in your username? Are you a wine writer and have you tasted the wines about which you express dissatisfaction? Have you reviewed the Ledoyen wine list, and are there better wines in the 1/2 bottle, in the same price range listed on that list?

(Apologies for my ignorance, as I do not have knowledge on wine.)


Edited by cabrales (log)

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Claude -- If you are comfortable discussing it, could you provide a bit of description on The Fine Wine Review reference in your username?  Are you a wine writer and have you tasted the wines about which you express dissatisfaction?  Have you reviewed the Ledoyen wine list, and are there better wines in the 1/2 bottle, in the same price range listed on that list?

(Apologies for my ignorance, as I do not have knowledge on wine.)

Cabrales -- The Fine Wine Review is a small, independent wine review that I publish. It has existed since 1986, with six issues appearing each year. The primary focus is on Burgundies, Northern Rhones, and German wines which are covered in great depth, but other areas are covered as time, space, and my interests permit.

I publish the newsletter as a labor of love on nights and weekends, as I work as an attorney during the day (but I do manage two trips a year to Europe to taste, including three weeks each fall in Burgundy). My purpose in producing The Fine Wine Review is to present a more classic (or traditional or European) approach to wine than that taken by other American publications. As a result, I am greatly concerned with balance, elegance, and finesse in wine and a wine's fidelity to what the French call terroir. I generally do not like wines that are packed with oak, alcohol, jammy fruit, that are low in acidity, and/or that have residual sugar (unless there is the proper acidity to balance the residual sugar, as in the great German wines and wines that are intended as dessert wines).

In addition to The Fine Wine Review, I have done some other writing on wine, most recently in several issues of the now-defunct Williams-Sonoma Taste Magazine.

I've not been to Ledoyen so I cannot comment on what altertnatives the sommelier could have suggested. But I am disappointed to see a Jules Belin Puligny-Montrachet on the list of a restaurant with the prestige of Ledoyen. A restaurant with that much renown can obtain wine from any Puligny producer it wants, and there are plenty that could provide good and excellent village Puligny: Domaine Leflaive, Carillon, Joseph Drouhin, Louis Jadot, Jean-Marc Boillot, Faiveley, Paul Pernot, etc., etc. In their place, Ledoyen has chosen Jules Belin.

Belin once was was a well-known negociant house in Burgundy with very significant holdings. (Much of Domaine de la Romanee-Conti's La Tache once belonged to Belin, but Belin got in trouble with the wine authorities and had to sell the property off. Belin also once owned the Domaine de l'Arlot in Premeaux, which includes the Clos de l'Arlot and the Clos des Forets-St-Georges, the latter being one of the finest vineyards in the Nuits-St-Georges.) Today, Belin is just a marque owned by one of the large negociant operations not known for serious wine (as opposed to the afore-mentioned Drouhin, Faively, Jadot -- and also Bouchard Pere et Fils, and some new generation negociants such as Nicholas Potel -- which are negociants (and also property owners) producing wines of top tier quality).

Seeing Belin on the wine list at a place such as Ledoyen is depressing, but not surprising. The great majority of restaurants in France (and especially Paris) either have very poor wine selections and/or grossly overpriced wines. Those who love wine as well as food keep mental lists of where one can get quality food and wine at the same time and rarely depart from the restaurants on those lists.

Best regards,

Claude Kolm

The Fine Wine Review

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The Puligny Montrachet we had at Ledoyen was a J-M Boillot "Clos de la Mouchere" 1998; price was €140.

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The Puligny Montrachet we had at Ledoyen was a J-M Boillot "Clos de la Mouchere" 1998; price was €140.

Jonathan,

Ah, but now you are talking premier cru, (which should be) a notable step up from most village wines.

How did you find the wine?

Best regards,

Claude Kolm

The Fine Wine Review

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I had mentioned earlier my displeasure with the wine service at Ledoyen but it is worth mentioning again. We had dinner there in the first days of 2001 when Le Squer was at the helm and spotted a Coche Dury PM Perrieres 96 under $ 100. They bent over backwards not to serve this wine to me. During the protracted argumentation process I detected very chauvinist attitudes and preconceptions against non-French. Please note that I consider France like a second country and feel very a l'aise there so I was particularly disappointed. The way they have treated Liz and her husband are not too dissimilar. If Jules Belin is not worth ordering, it should not have been on the list in the first place. Similarly they did not have to list Coche; they could have whispered to the ears of repeat clients that they have some off the list gems. At any rate, Liz's husband must have had a good reason to order a Belin which I have never tasted. Maybe he wanted a lighter style PM for lunch to go with the frogs they had ordered. They certainly deserved a more respectable treatment. All in all I believe that the food has improved and it is living up to the 3 stars level but I doubt I will give it another try unless I hear that there is a change of attitude.

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The Puligny Montrachet we had at Ledoyen was a J-M Boillot "Clos de la Mouchere" 1998; price was €140.

Jonathan,

Ah, but now you are talking premier cru, (which should be) a notable step up from most village wines.

How did you find the wine?

Best regards,

Claude Kolm

The Fine Wine Review

Claude, I am not at all a wine connoisseur. I enjoyed the wine a lot: it seemed balanced ("rounded") and had a subtle quality that I described as "spicy" in my writeup but perhaps wine people would call "mineral". It wasn't quite as fruity as the sommelier had led me to expect; perhaps just a bit of citrus.

I've now seen this wine priced at €60 at retail, so €140 doesn't seem like that painful a restaurant price.

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One of the new three stars in Paris

Sorry to be picky , but it was one of the "new" three stars a year ago..

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I had mentioned earlier my displeasure with the wine service at Ledoyen but it is worth mentioning again.  We had dinner there in the first days of 2001 when Le Squer was at the helm and spotted a Coche Dury PM Perrieres 96 under $ 100.  They bent over backwards not to serve this wine to me. During the protracted argumentation process I detected very chauvinist attitudes and preconceptions against non-French. Please note that I consider France like a second country and feel very a l'aise there so I was particularly disappointed. The way they have treated Liz and her husband are not too dissimilar. If Jules Belin is not worth ordering, it should not have been on the list in the first place. Similarly they did not have to list Coche; they could have whispered to the ears of repeat clients that they have some off the list gems. At any rate, Liz's husband must have had a good reason to order a Belin which I have never tasted. Maybe he wanted a lighter style PM for lunch to go with the frogs they had ordered. They certainly deserved a more respectable treatment. All in all I believe that the food has improved and it is living up to the 3 stars level but I doubt I will give it another try unless I hear that there is a change of attitude.

Unfortunately, it is a common experience in French restaurants to find that they refuse to sell you a wine that is on the list -- the more you have a sharp eye for the list's bargains, the more you will run into it. They size you up and decide what wine you deserve.

Once at Arpege when it was still a two-star, I had to negociate through about four or five wines with the sommelier. He kept trying to push a Jadot Beaune on me that I already knew and knew that I didn't want and he kept on refusing my choices until I finally landed on one that he would agree to sell me. The practice is disgusting. Given that extraordinary service is supposed to be one of the distinguishing aspects of a three-star restaurant, there is no excuse for it to occur in a three-star or a two-star that is aspiring for three.

Happily, I've never had or heard of the problem in the United States.

Another practice that I disapprove of but that is not quite as offensive is to put wines on the list and in place of a price, put "en vieillissement." I think it is a good practice for a restaurant to hold back wines until they are mature, but why put them on the list if they are not currently available?

Best regards,

Claude Kolm

The Fine Wine Review

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