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StuDudley

L'Astrance

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On Bouland's link, note that a two-starred in Carantec that was  likely zero stars only two years ago is participating (e.g., September 2002 visit).  If the prices have not yet reflected Jeffroy's second star (only one star is mentioned on the cookfrance description), this would appear to be among the more attractive programs. :wink:

http://www.cookfrance.com/site/trips/brittany.html

Before his current restaurant in Carantec, Jeffroy had a one-star a few miles away for 11 years. I've never really heard the circumstances under which it closed. He opened the current restaurant in the spring of 2000. The restaurant was listed in the 2000 Michelin before it actually opened! He received his first star in 2001 and his second star this year. To my knowledge the prices haven't changed. The best deal is the demi-pension for two that includes dinner, a hotel room, and breakfast. The hotel is quite modern, quiet, and all rooms face the sea. The price is quite reasonable.

One of my favorite dishes that I've had at the restaurant a number of times is a Roquefort Terrine. Chef Jeffroy showed me how to make the whole dish one afternoon and I've posted the recipe on my web site. The recipe is essentially the same as served in the restaurant except I form my brik bowl differently. A picture of the original is below...

terrine.jpg

BTW, Chef Jeffroy was featured in ELLE à la table this month.

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Recipe for Patrick Jeffroy's Huîtres en Gelée de Coco et Curry can be found in this Roellinger thread.

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I haven't been able to get through to Astrance using the fax number from Michelin which is

01 40 50 11 45

It seems to be a problem with the line, not just a vacation issue.

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In the "Pages Jaunes" (French Online Yellow Pages) www.pagesjaunes.fr,

Astrance does not have a fax number. Usually, this service is quite accurate. The phone number listed is +33 1 40 50 84 40. I don't think they open again until Tuesday, August 27.

David

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Some fax machines shut off when they run out of paper. It's also possible that the machine is turned off which might give an error signal rather than a no answer.

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Dinner - Astrance

(A Note: These posts are not in sequence of when we actually ate at each place. Our Astrance meal was after 45 meals in France.)

We had been eagerly anticipating our meal at Astrance. All of the reports, especially Patricia Wells and members of eGullet were absolutely raving.

The room is very contemporary, serene, minimalist with splashes of color - gray textured walls, a stone floor, yellow velveteen banquettes, orange velveteen covered chairs, white tablecloths with place plates that look like giant lollipops in pink, yellow, blue, green and orange. Large mirrors,hung both vertically and horizontally, give the room a spacious feeling. Spotlights are recessed in the ceiling, and there is a balcony of gray chrome and steel that is cantilevered over the downstairs area.

We decided on the Surprise Menu.

1st course--an avocado ravioli--2 thinly sliced ripe but firm avocados are the outside of the ravioli which hold a crab salad that has been enhanced with chives, fleur de sel, lime zest, and a touch of almond oil. This rightly deserves to be a signature dish; it was wonderful. But, after eating the crab you are instructed by the waiter to first mix and then eat with a small spoon some ingredients in a tall shot glass--yogurt, a fish mousse, juniper berry. The ravioli were delicious, but why the shot glass? My husband saw surprising similarities to eating Ajax or Babbo.

2nd course--a layered dish of cepes and pear on a crunchy, somewhat sweet, cracker with marjoram. The marjoram over whelmed the taste and the mixture of sweet and savory did not work.

3rd course--langoustines with julienne apples and an accompanying spoon of frozen hazelnut puree. You were told to take a bite (a la El Bulli) of the langoustine and then a bite of the frozen stuff. The langoustines were mushy and the frozen stuff added a completely wrong note.

4th course--mussels in the shell in a foamy broth of langoustine. The broth was so strong and fishy tasting that it ruined the mussels.

5th course--omble chevalier, roasted with girolle mushrooms and a peanut butter sauce. This was horrible. I just don't understand the combination of a wonderful fish like omble chevalier being paired with a peanut butter sauce. The fish by itself was excellent.

My husband was ready to call a cab but I wouldn't let him. So he kept shaking his head saying "fish and peanut butter?" "fish and peanut butter?"

6th course--codfish with mushrooms and a balsamic vinegar reduction with basil oil--unfortunately no redeeming virtues or flavors here--just awful.

7th course--the "infamous" bread soup which looked like yeast proofing. I must be missing something here because it tasted very much like yeast proofing.

8th course--pimento lemon grass sorbet - why?

9th course--lamb with a potato cheese galette--the lamb was good and the galette excellent.

10th course--a series of desserts-by this time I had put my note pad away, but I do remember a fried greasy madeline.

Wine:

My husband who is in charge of keeping track of the wine was so disgusted that he forgot to write down the exact wines - a moderate cheap Chablis and a Faveliey 98 Gevrey Chambertin. The chablis was OK. The Gevrey might have been good, but the waiter took it on himself to decant the Burgundy about 1 hour before it was needed-- so the wine was totally faded out.

It was obvious to the maitre d' that we were hardly enjoying our meal. He was very solicitous and not at all defensive.

L'Astrance is an example of Adria's El Bulli food gone wrong. Innovation for the sake of innovation without any regard for taste is asinine. Food is meant to be eaten (amazing concept).

Auberge de I'lle in Lyon, L'Arnsbourg in Alsace, Regis Marcon in St. Bonnet, Trama in Puymirol are all chefs delivering contemporary and innovative food that taste wonderful. Even with some misses from Gagnaire, his restaurant is worthy of going to repeatedly.

We don't see ourselves as old fogies, meat and potatoes people. We have had 45 meals in France up to this point; our only requirement is that we are only looking for food that tastes good. Why don't I get it? Why the raves?

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We were completely wowed by our lunch there. And they did a very nice vegetarian menu too. I'll dig out my notes and post over the weekend.

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I also find Astrance's cuisine outstanding (under higher standards utilized for restaurants in France).

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I asked the question honestly.

Beachfan,

I am looking forward to reading your notes.

Cabrales,

I would be interested in a recap of your meal at Astrance.

For me, I found the flavor combinations discordant and as I said, I am not wary of the innovative.

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5th course--omble chevalier, roasted with girolle mushrooms and a peanut butter sauce. This was horrible. I just don't understand the combination of a wonderful fish like omble chevalier being paired with a peanut butter sauce. The fish by itself was excellent.

My husband was ready to call a cab but I wouldn't let him. So he kept shaking his head saying "fish and peanut butter?"  "fish and peanut butter?" 

Like your reports and the fact that you are demanding. With regard to course #5, I've heard that was sandre with hazelnut sauce. Would that change your view?

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We were impressed by the Astrance surprise menu, but unlike Beachfan, sorely disappointed with the vegetarian menu, so much so that I doubt I would bring a vegetarian on return trip.

However, we were there during lunch, and judging from Lizzee's post, Barbot's cuisine seems to have evolved toward the Bulli spectrum. For example, I do not recall any shot glass served with the avovado ravioli.

I'm curious as to the experiences of others.

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Ajay, I wonder if you got the same thing, and there are different tastes involved, or if my several reminders of this being a special occasion got us an upgraded menu?

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lizziee -- Below are my subjective reactions: :laugh:

1st course--an avocado ravioli--But, after eating the crab you are instructed by the waiter to first mix and then eat with a small spoon some ingredients in a tall shot glass--yogurt, a fish mousse, juniper berry. The ravioli were delicious, but why the shot glass?

For me, the shotglass' contents add depth and complexity of flavor to what is otherwise a very "clean" dish of avocado slices and crabmeat (gently enhanced by almond oil and some zest). Note the yoghurt is a common feature of the shotglass, although I have had it once without it. The yoghurt is not an aggressive US supermarket version, as you know. It adds a bit of acidity coupled with complexity. The fish mousse is usually brandade (cod). Its inclusion augments the sea-like aspects of the dish, which are stronger in the shotglass than the nicely-prepared, but more gentle, crabmeat sandwiched between the avocado.

Note the instructions I have received on the shotglass relate to digging the little spoon through all the layers to access all layers, and not necessarily to mix. That might make a difference.

2nd course--a layered dish of cepes and pear on a crunchy, somewhat sweet, cracker with marjoram.  The marjoram over whelmed the taste and the mixture of sweet and savory did not work.

While I have not had this particular combination in a layered presentation, that type of presentation is not uncommon at the restaurant. The bottom is, for me, less a "cracker" than a delicate bit of slightly sweetened pastry-like item. It is not really a pastry, but it has lingering notes of sweetness. I have also not had this type of dish with majoram, but normally it is very nice (e.g., with thinly sliced beetroot or cucumber portions).

3rd course--langoustines with julienne apples and an accompanying spoon of frozen hazelnut puree.  You were told to take a bite (a la El Bulli) of the langoustine and then a bite of the frozen stuff. The langoustines were mushy and the frozen stuff added a completely wrong note.

Again, I have not had this particular dish. But one version is langoustines with a sorbet of langoustines and saffron. The langoustines I have had at Astrance have been appropriately cooked and appropriately textured.

7th course--the "infamous" bread soup which looked like yeast proofing. I must be missing something here because it tasted very much like yeast proofing.

The grilled bread soup hints wonderfully at a slight burnt note and coffee overtones (there is no coffee in it). One feels the capuccino effects first, and then the warm darkness of the soup. For me, it did not have unduly yeasty connotations.

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hollywood,

I am only going by what our waiter told me - I could have misunderstood, but I was sure he said omble chevalier. The sauce had more of a peanut flavor, but again I won't swear to it. Without the sauce, the fish was beautifully prepared, perfectly roasted, not dry, just excellent. With the sauce, you lost the fish - you tasted just sauce; I could be eating a piece of anything.

So to answer your question directly if sandre was served with a hazelnut sauce in such a way that all I tasted was hazelnut sauce, my reaction would be the same.

Out of curiosity, why did you think I had sandre and not the omble chevalier?

Ajay,

The avocado ravioli was superb. But having to drink the shot glass right afterward just destroyed the taste of what you had just eaten. This happened again and again. The cepes and pear were an interesting and surprisingly good match, but the marjoram in the cracker ruined it for me. The mussels were perfectly cooked and if I avoided the broth very enjoyable. Again, I liked the cod fish, but I was pushing the basil oil to the side. It seemed as if I was spending my time decomposing the ingredients. I just didn't get the "bread soup" at all. I work with yeast all the time and often taste proofing yeast - that is what it tasted like to me.

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lizziee,

The special menu seems (notwithstanding certain comments on this thread) to remain constant. Just read someone's post on another site and their stuff matched up with yours except the fish and mystery butter.

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hollywood -- My general impression has been that the surprise menus within a given very few number of days tend to remain constant. Then, they get changed, although some things tend to remain (e.g., the avocado/crab ravioli).

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lizziee,

The special menu seems (notwithstanding certain comments on this thread) to remain constant.  Just read someone's post on another site and their stuff matched up with yours except the fish and mystery butter.

hollywood,

There were definite similarities between the menu we had and the one you referred to, but it was not the same menu. In fact, one of the things that the poster mentioned was that their waiter said that the "menu was in constant evolution."

The two dishes that seem constant are his signature dishes of avocado ravioli and the bread soup.

We had no amuse, they had crispy friture.

The dish described as cepes and pear had an inordinate amount of marjoram in the cracker base. (Cabrales, I refer to this as a cracker for it was quite crunchy and not at all pastry-like.) The poster mentioned that their tart was seasoned with marjoram..

Their langoustine dish was accompanied with a spoon of vin de Jura sorbet, ours was with hazelnut.

Their mussels were in a green curry sauce with coconut oil, ours in a foamy broth of langoustines.

They had sandre with girolles and hazelnut butter. According to our waiter, we had omble chevalier with a peanut based sauce. (Again, I could be wrong on this, but I would be surprised that the chef would use hazelnuts in two different dishes.)

They had "Apotheosis of Vegetables. We had codfish with basil oil.

They had guinea fowl and we had lamb.

We both had a lemon grass sorbet, although they described it with red pepper and we had pimento.

Whether, I would have liked their menu better than ours is a question I can't answer.

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L'Astrance is the capital of "futz" food as in "futzing around". The cuisine lacks heart and soul, as does the room and the service. They just bring out one concoction after the other, few that are memorable or memorizeable. I went in late June and was made to feel like a highly-manipulated pawn. It is interesting that at least four veteran eaters on the board disliked it.

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at least four veteran eaters on the board disliked it.

robert -- With all respect, an interesting invocation of the term "veteran". What do you mean by it, exactly, and why might you be seeking to add weight to your conclusion through it? :wink:

Also, how many meals would you consdier sufficient to confer a reasonably good read of a restaurant (even an unfavorable read)? :wink:

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Lizzie

Well, all I can say is that you missed the geranium soup! [see

my /and others posts from last spring]. If memory serves, I

received the shotglass concotion as an amuse. I didn't care

for it, but the people at the next table practically licked their

glasses. Re; the soup, the maitre d' said, oh no one ever

eats it!

I don't know that I felt like a 'pawn' ...I felt that the staff was

delighted with their cuisine & success.....but I am quite ambivalent

about so many instructions!

Clearly, this is a restaurant that delights many & disappoints

many. I find Gagnaire [altho I feel his cuisine is more refined]

to be in the same category.

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L'Astrance is the capital of "futz" food as in "futzing around". The cuisine lacks heart and soul, as does the room and the service. They just bring out one concoction after the other, few that are memorable or memorizeable. I went in late June and was made to feel like a highly-manipulated pawn. It is interesting that at least four veteran eaters on the board disliked it.

But does it have culinary relevance?

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I have been planning a trip to Paris for this weekend. One month ago, I contacted the concierge at my hotel(marriott champs elyesses) and requested a table at L'astrance. I reconfirmed me request on the 7th of October. On October 8th I spoke with the concierge who was please to confirm a table for 11/8. Today(11/5) he called to tell me when he reconfirmed the table, Astrance had cancelled it.

Has anyone had this experience?

Ellen

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L'Astrance is a very difficult table to secure. I believe your concierge may have been "premature" in promising what he/she did to you. :hmmm:

[Additional suggestion removed, as I had mixed up the dates]

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