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Bu Pun Su

Epicure at Le Bristol - often perceived as the best hotel-restaurant around the globe

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Epicure (formerly known as Restaurant Le Bristol) was one “special” place towards my gastronomy adventure history since it was my first meal at multi-star Michelin restaurant in Europe (the lunch took place during the Easter Monday of 2006 when most places were closed). Since then I’ve come there twice (another meal in ‘10) and believed it’s a more than a decent 2-star dining place. I kinda ‘ignored’ it since then until recently that under the new name Epicure, rebranded in ’11 or ’12 I think. In addition to the 3 star awards, Epicure has nearly unanimously perceived as the finest hotel-restaurant in Paris & the world + some other awards. I thought perhaps I should return again to try the food as well as check out the new dining room. In fact, I eventually came again twice! Firstly, in Fall 2017 and the latest one in May 2018. The most recent one happened by “accident” since I was on schedule to travel, eat and stay at Assiette Champenoise on that Sunday. However, due to the SNCF strike, my trains were cancelled and as I had to return home on the following day; to be safe, I just decided to stay in Paris and thus another meal at Epicure took place.

 

Both of my meals were for lunch and the restaurant was doing really well (full house in both occasions). The trend still followed in that there were many international clienteles in particular from East Asia occupying the tables and they tended to order either the lunch set or the bigger tasting menu. Unlike them, I went for a la carte dishes. The most outstanding part of my meals, as far as the food’s concerned, happened to be the desserts!? It did not happen very often actually …

 

-The creation of Laurent Jeannin named “Lemon”. The lemon-like shaped was frosted and filled with some cold pear, lemon and a little herbal. The outside was lemon meringue covered by limoncello – pretty, delicate and pleasant. It showcased a few different textures and truly fragrant, every time I scooped this wonderful creation, my nose also enjoyed the aromatic lemon scent. Fantastic!

-The season of Burlat cherries was rather short, hence when I saw it on the menu – it’s a no brainer that I had to order it; fully deserved to be written as one of Epicure’s signature desserts. To make it more fun, it was actually prepared a la minute in front of you – similar to Passard’s iconic tomato confit dessert. The sweet red cherries were soaked with kirsch, then flambeed. In addition, there was a rich & creamy cherry sorbet as well as crunchy crust pistachio nuts on the sides. The "huge cherry" was a big blown sugar of burlat cherries filled with cool, tasty and nutty of superb Sicilian pistachio. The interplay of texture and temperature contrasts were wonderful   

 

Well, by no means, the ‘normal’ food was not good – many were also remarkable. For instance,

1st meal: Eric Frechon was generous by giving roasted artichokes (light and distinct) served with white truffles and egg powder; nearly every table got this free appetizer. The soft potatoes mousseline smoked with (infused) haddock + Sologne caviars was awesome; half portion was sufficient.

Another demi portion dish I ordered was seared tender & sweet scallops with nutritious watercress sauce, aromatic shaved Alba truffles and soft gnocchi (not as airy as I expected); it was delicious. My main course was the least impressive one though very beautifully presented. I ordered a roasted lobster with sautéed vegetables, squids, chorizo, sweet peppers etc. and no sauce – fully dependent on the lobster’s natural flavors, the side dishes’ taste and seasonings. Without the sauce, it’s not that amazing. The plenty of firm & quite chewy textures were interesting

 

2nd meal: Contrary to the above, the blue lobster (de-shelled and plated table side) I had was fabulous. It was perfectly roasted, delightfully firm with succulent flavor. It was served tasty lobster jus from its head, crisp asparagus and its mousse + a bit of black truffle. The main course was lovely - my (young) rack of Aveyron lamb was well-seasoned, delicious and very juicy. Beginning from the skin, it was slightly broiled until brown / a bit crunchy, then there was small but heavenly lamb's fat; comes to the meat, it's simply tender and flavorful. Eat with your hand to "clean up" the lamb. The side dishes were potato souffles with spinach anchovy. The 2nd meal felt slightly more impressive after having learnt that Vincent Perrin (chef de cuisine?) was actually in charge of the kitchen as Sunday was the off day for Eric Frechon, the hotel’s Executive Chef.

 

The service was consistently impeccable. Epicure was ‘blessed’ with nearly 20 dining room staffs (including the sommelier team) to serve about 40 people max. The pacing was good; staffs were cordial, efficient and sincere. Everything was beautifully choreographed. During my 2nd visit, I selected a glass of red Bordeaux for my lamb which’s not a perfect match. One of the assistant sommeliers checked whether I liked it since he noticed something “not right” with my face … then he happily offered me to replace it with a more suitable one (red Burgundy) while I was allowed to keep my initial red. After these 2 visits, Epicure rose among my favorite restaurants in Paris. Another return here when I re-visit the French capital was quite probable. Food, wine, service, ambiance – everything just worked harmoniously together. Kudos to Eric Frechon and his team!

 

More detailed review: http://zhangyuqisfoodjourneys.blogspot.com/2018/07/epicure-eric-frechon.html

Pictures of the meal: https://www.flickr.com/photos/7124357@N03/sets/72157692501786730 and https://www.flickr.com/photos/7124357@N03/sets/72157699217140555

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December 2018

i was pleasantly surprised by my meal at Epicure. The lièvre/hare was so rich. The agneau/lamb was well prepared. But I was not so enamoured by the citron/lemon which I found too sweet as it was more a sweet confectionary instead of fruity. I probably would go elsewhere in future.

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Good review!  I had the good fortune to be taken here for my birthday a couple of years ago (dinner, tasting menu, Clos de la Maréchale 2011) and it was one of the best dinners of my life.

 

On 9/14/2018 at 3:29 PM, Bu Pun Su said:

The most outstanding part of my meals, as far as the food’s concerned, happened to be the desserts!? It did not happen very often actually …

 

Tragically (and the day before I dined there, in July 2017), Laurent Jeannin passed away - I believe the new pastry chef, Juan Alvarez, is keeping the lemon dessert as an hommage.

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Since it’s only less than a year ago, I wrote my review about meals at Epicure par Eric Frechon, I would ‘try’ to be brief this time 😉 Epicure slowly grew in me: delicious food with warm service – both consistently performed. Then, I was in Paris … again in late Jan this year, time to re-visit Epicure for dinner during the weekdays. Dinner in the deep Winter meant I could not see the beautiful French garden from my comfortable seat; without any natural lights, the atmosphere was less exciting but that’s the only downside. The rest of the dinner experience was delightful

 

Instead of a few different bread (some from the 3rd party), nowadays Epicure only served one kind – homemade country bread. Eric Frechon installed a stone flour meal, guided by Roland Feuillas, in Le Bristol. To create this ‘living bread’, Chef Frechon mixed specific and high quality natural wheats. Freshly baked daily, this wheat bread was awesome having perfect crust. The nibbles, amuse and mignardises were pretty much the same (for a few, the sweet cart alone was probably good enough reason to come here). Some of my dishes were:

 

-lightly cooked and succulent large langoustine from Guilvenec (half-portion) was served with buttery & tasty broth and onion-mango; refreshing … I thought I would only see this kind of dish in the later Spring or Summer

-whenever you found a traditional French dish at the fine dining menu, normally it would not be not your usual one. At Epicure, the beef pot-au-feu was served in 3 different ways separately. My favorite was the 2nd preparation … "millefeuille" of beef, duck liver and vegetables (carrot, turnip and cabbage) served with delicate bone marrow, pungent Perigord truffle on top of thin toast. The aromatic beef consommé put all these produces together in harmony

The last service was puff pastry with clear soup. The pastry would nicely soak the delicate soup flavors containing celery, duck liver, shiitake and black truffle – similar but not inferior to Bocuse’s famous VGE soup. You’re welcome to see the rest of the meal from the link below.

 

What made Epicure is loved by numerous of its clienteles, locals and international alike, is that this institution is able to not only create delicious food, but also deliver top-notch service. Ever since the young & talented Remi Segui (the director) was fully in charge of the service at Epicure, I noticed the hospitality became more relaxed yet still professional. Staffs were warm, knowledgeable and friendly as they should be … in addition, they were easy going, had good sense of humor and could adapt to different cultures accordingly. Often, they made “jokes” or mock one another; maybe on purpose sometimes to entertain guests. For instance (during this dinner), when I asked Thomas (the manager) whether Stephane looked like Federer (both of them near my table), Thomas looked closely to his colleague and then burst into laughter saying: NOO Wayyyy! And Stephane, pretending to be upset, replied: Thomas was jealous of me because nobody ever said he resembled someone famous. On another occasion, the staff served petit fours to a large group of Chinese guests, about 6 of them. When the guests said they’re full and wanted to have 1 macaron each + a few chocolates, the chef de rang would act surprised and disappointed. Then he pointed to my table – “look at him, he had 8 macarons … all for himself!”. At the end, the Epicure staffs would serve more than 10 macarons and even offered to take away to these diners … generally, the restaurant is generous with the food. It’s just a few examples of “extra” points that differentiate Epicure from other Parisian multiple star restaurants

 

In short, it was a fantastic meal. The finest one I’ve ever had at Epicure. For the 1st time in my notes, my meal at Le Bristol’s flagship restaurant received a (very) high score that I would categorize it as “absolutely 3-star” (97 pts or above). Bravo Epicure team, both the kitchen and front of the house!

 

Meal photos: https://www.flickr.com/photos/7124357@N03/albums/72157679319628788

More detailed review: https://zhangyuqisfoodjourneys.blogspot.com/2019/03/epicure-eric-frechon-2nd-visit.html

 

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