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robert brown

Guy Savoy

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Below are observations on Guy Savoy – Steve P, Marc Cosnard des Closets and I had dinner there Saturday night. What follows is a relatively technical report, which tends to result when I have a good to very good, but uninspired, meal. The meal did not persuade me that it would have been an injustice for G Savoy to have continued along without a third star.  

Our dining party had a wonderful time discussing all sorts of things. Steve had included two cuisiniers previously affiliated with Lucas-Carton, of whom I posed questions about Canard Apicius (no Asian fish sauce, for example, is actually used at the restaurant).  The two of them, and the rest of the party, appeared happy enough with the meal, and I do not see Guy Savoy’s cuisine as being below that of the average three-star restaurant (with average being the operative term).

Our amuse-bouches included a delicious small section of squid or calamari clad in a little piece of mushroom and supported by the bitterness of endive.  Others were a small piece of sea bass, and carrot soup with anise (which I thought was nothing special).  

One of my personal highlights of the dinner was the oyster in gelee (Huitre en nage glacee]) included in Guy Savoy’s parade of appetizers. While this version left a lot to be desired relative to similar offerings from Meneau, Lorain and Dotournier, I was gratified to further my comparison of this dish at different restaurants.  See “What are vegetarians missing” under “General”, p. 4.  The aspic gelee Saturday night was crushed and “mushy”, and did not convey a sense of the darling seawater and juices trapped within oysters. Still, the oyster was nice. The other appetizers served together with the oyster (a beetroot/truffle item and the liver in beef consumme dish Mao and vivin also sampled) were not memorable.  See "Mao and Vivin's Paris Trip 6 -- Guy Savoy" in this form. Our next dish of Royale de truffes et navets au jus de truffes was nice, pairing thin, softened turnips with truffles. The turnip provided a relatively “clean” backdrop against which to play with the darkness and intensity of the truffles.

The truffled artichoke soup (Soupe d’Artichaut a la Truffe Noire, Brioche Feuilettee aux Champignons et Beurre de Truffe) was hearty, balanced and rich without being weighed down with cream. It offered strong truffle sensations, like a number of the other dishes sampled (including a truffled lentil dish). For me, the addition of parmesan to the “inside” of the soup was unnecessary (I have a similar gripe with Gordon Ramsay's pumpkin soup amuse), but Steve appeared to like the slight elasticity engendered by the small molten cheese bits. The truffles, if not as pristine as those encountered by him at Richerenches market in Southern France (one of which became a hefty souvenir), were of good quality and were deftly and generously utilized in many dishes.

The vanilla-sauced sea bass has been discussed in the Mao/Vivin thread. Then a dish of lobster, flanked by vegetables, that was good, but not outstanding. I liked the Mersault Perrieres, Domaine Roulot 1996, Steve had picked with these dishes quite a bit.

My veal entree (Cote de Veau Juste Rotie, Puree de Pommes de Terre a la Truffe, Jus de Veau) was a slight disappointment, but that is, sadly, not an uncommon reaction for me at even three star restaurants.  While tender, the veal but not brought to life by a run-of-the-mill brown sauce. The accompanying truffled potato puree had a quasi-aligot consistency.  Other diners at our table had decent Bresse chicken. Afterwards, the kitchen gifted our table an enormous veal knuckle (Jarret de Veau). Having been served to an adjacent table, this dish spurred our envy because the veal piece appeared perfectly caramelized and included a substantial bone section protruding upward.  Speculation had abounded at our table that the bone was chock full of marrow (apparently not the case). The meat turned out to be good, but not more than that, and no marrow was to be had.

It was an interesting, and in hindsight appropriate, choice for the kitchen to have served the lentils with black truffles after the entree (Ragout de Lentilles et Truffe Noire). The dish was a bit heavy, but a good showcase for the truffles.

Following a so-so cheese course, I thoroughly enjoyed my blood orange dessert. Bitterness and tartness from small orange sections near the top of a cute, round glass serving bowl gave added meaning to the confit (or similar preparation) below. Other diners at our table had a trio of small desserts centering on pear and lemon. The ensuing chocolate truffle dessert was very smooth, rather dense and not particularly to my liking.

Guy Savoy and the dining room team members serving the food were helpful and generous. It is heartening to see a team remain eager to please after attaining Michelin’s holy grail (no religious connotations intended!)

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One of my personal highlights of the dinner was the oyster in gelee (Huitre en nage glacee])

I was so sorry to read your description of this dish, which, when I had it ten years ago at Guy Savoy, was everything you hoped it would be.  I remember barely cooked oysters floating in briny aspic of crystalline clarity.  I've remembered it all this time.

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I was so sorry to read your description of this dish

Sandra -- Maybe Steve or Marc can add to this, but the oyster itself came through nicely in the dish. I would have to say that the gelee was not as reminiscent of the sea as any of the other dishes of this nature I have had. But those other dishes were of extraordinary quality. For example, Meneau's oyster in gelee dish is my favorite dish from all dishes I have sampled at L'Esperance. Lorain himself appears to like his oyster terrine dish considerably, placing it in the "Les Musts" ("The Musts") section of his menu.

Note also that my descriptive style for meals could seem to lack enthusiasm with respect to many meals that I find tasty, if they do not rise to a further level.  :wink:

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Guy Savoy

Guy Savoy, 18 Rue Troyon, is located slightly to the north of Arc de Triomphe. The street itself is not very inviting - at one end a McDonalds and after dark although it didn’t feel unsafe I’d hate to hang around. GS was recognised by the 2 attendants waiting to open the understated but imposing wooden doors beyond which some of France’s greatest treasures hid.

There to meet us himself was Guy Savoy – not opening the doors of course, he has henchman for that. He had the humbled look of someone who had invited you into your home crossed with a look, a warm smug glow, that said I got my 3rd star.

Oh what wonders lay beyond. The restaurant is divided into 3 section with a 6-10 tables in each section. The décor was modern international, pleasant, angular and comfortable.

We arrived at 8.30.

First up – pre-pre-starters: succulent discs of foie gras beautifully salty and perfumed. There were seconds of these.

Second – pre-starters: three little dishes: one of carrot & pernod soup (although “soup” seems too basic a word); mushrooms sautéed & skewered with a rosemary twig & a courgette/zucchini cannelloni stuffed with mushrooms & balsamic. The balsamic looked 50 years old.

Fabulous.

The menu arrived & it took quite some time to assimilate. There were 2 tasting menus for 230 and 188 euros. I could easily have eaten both but we settled on, we thought anyway, the simple a la carte. Of waiter told that if we didn’t want the tasting menu we could make one up from what was available – split the starters – we’ll give you half-portions. (Half-portions my arse – but more later.)

The menu was chosen. First half starters (approx 50 euros each full price):

Petits medaillons de foie gras de canard au sel gris et gelee de canard (preparation crue)

(loads of little foie gras on a duck aspic with celeriac puree)

Supreme de volaille de bresse, fioe gras et celery en vinaigrette aux truffes

(Chicken & foie gras terrine with truffle vinarette and celery cream sauce.)

Both outstanding. First nice touch: they offered more sauce to go with the terrine when my partner had finished it.

Second half starter: we both chose this as it seemed a signature dish (75 euros full price)

Soupe d’artichaut a la truffe noir, brioche feulletee aux champignons et truffes

(artichoke & truffle soup with mushroom & truffle brioche)

75 euros for a plate of soup (37.5 in this case) sounds like a lot – but it was stunning. A bemused, satisfied look came over each of our faces at the first mouthful. The depth of flavour was not over powering but lingered beautifully & tantalisingly on the palate longer afterwards. The brioche was the most succulent I have ever had.

Second nice touch: they asked if we wanted more. I said yes & got another half size bowl. Guy Savoy came over & commented – so you weren’t sure about the soup the first time?

The starters were not half sized - of that we were sure.

Course 5: main course:

Angeau de lait dans tous ses etats

(lamb done several ways)

We both chose this – not something I usually like doing – but I’m glad we did so in this case or there would have been a severe case of jealously on one side.

A lamb hock– cooked in a clear broth with turned vegetables - was presented to use & prepared by our table. The meat was separated skilfully from the bone & arranged in a bowl with the sumptuous stock and vegetables. My initial disappointment at the size of the portion was soon gone: this was a side dish. In front us appeared a separate plate of lamb (saddle & neck fillets) with perfect quenelle of cous-cous, vegetables (I don’t remember which) and deep deep reduction (stunning). Additionally there was a side dish of peas with morsels of roast lamb neck or cheek.

This was truly wonderful.

Course 6: dessert

I had the terrine of grapefruit with earl grey tea sauce – very sharp but refreshing. My partner had chestnut & hazelnut creation – sponge-like base with flavoured cream with spun sugar contraptions.

Possibly the least successful course – the chestnut thing wasn’t to my taste at all but the terrine was a revelation after an already heavy meal.

Courses 7 & onwards: post-dessert

We refused cheese (it would have sunk us) but this didn’t stop the food flowing. The post dessert part of the meal was two plates of wonderful petit fours, another course of homely ice creams (I chose the almond – breathtaking) and stewed fruit (I skipped this).

This was followed but another mini-dessert of grapefruit sorbet & pepper sauce. Again – stunning.

A strange, never to be repeated thing happened next: we asked them to stop bringing us food. It was like the Monty Python sketch – one more thing & we’d explode.

Wine: two bottles of Chablis grand cru (96 euros each). Its not that we skimped on the wine its just that there wasn’t much we could afford.

All in all, this was a fantastic evening – the service was faultless & the food outstanding. They made you feel great & the atmosphere intoxicating. One of the best (if not thee best) food experiences I’ve had. I can’t recommend it enough.

Final cost: 529 euros (ouch!) plus tip – but worth every penny (until, of course, my credit card bill comes in).

We left after midnight & Guy was at the door to shake our hand & say goodnight. What a star.

Had lunch at Beniot next day - fantastic in a completely different way. If I get a chance I'll post some notes.

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BLH -- What did you think of the decor at Guy Savoy -- did you like the modern art aspects? Which room were you seated in?

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Thanks BLH for that report. Our experience with GS was not as expansive as yours (that is expansive) but very enjoyable. We watched them prepare a duck for a very very old woman seated at a nearby table. It was the bloodiest rare duck I'd ever seen and she tucked into it like a trencherman. The place is intimate and comfortable. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your post.

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BLH - I really enjoyed reading that. The cost does not seem too excessive compared to my recent bill at Petrus for a fair bit less in terms of quantities at least of food and drink. How did experience here compare to the best of London?

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BLH,

thanx for the report. Glad to hear that they still care. My first experience was like yours. The second lacked in every respect except the final tab - suffice it say that it was considerably more than yours. I felt ripped off. Maybe it was an off night.

vivin.

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Cabrales - we were seated in the middle room. We were put right next to the busiest corridor of the restaurant which my partner thought explained the "special" treatment we had (no one else seemed to get extra portions of their most expensive starter). The decor was wonderful but, perhaps, the only downside to the evening: we could have been in any great city. There was nothing to say that you were actually in Paris - a very minor point.

Cabby – what did you think when you were there? My first choice would have been Grand Vefour but they aren’t open at weekends. Is it worth going to?

Andy – Petrus doesn’t come close in food, décor or service. I like Petrus but its just a (slightly) cheaper carbon copy of RHR. RHR is now virtually impossible to get into – whoch is a shame & given the nonsense of faxing back acceptances & so forth – its easier to jump into a train. The sauces of RHR were probably better than GS – but the rest – nowhere near.

(btw - what did you pay in Petrus?)

Vivin – I’ll probably never go back to GS for that very same worry: it couldn’t possibly meet the same expectations of the first visit. If I was rich enough to call it a local – fine – but this was a treat and to be cherished. Same with RHR – up to last weekend it was the finest meal I’ve had – but that was also due to the circumstances of my visit (I took a very close friend for her 40th birthday & it was our first 3 star – it captured the moment perfectly but if I went back I know I’d less satisfied).

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BLH -- I have been seated at several different locations in the post-redecoration restaurant. Once, I was in the back-most room, and Guy Savoy kept on peering into the dining room areas and seemed to be moving back and forth a great deal, past the corridor next to my table. More recently, Steve P, Marc and I sat in the first room upon entering the restaurant (on the right hand side, close to the deep burgundy-dominated modern painting, as one enters). I am not thrilled by the decor at Guy Savoy -- it's clearly modern and expensive-looking. However, it lacks a certain lusciousness.

I wonder whether members have sat in the little, one-table room adjacent to the first room (and closer physically to the street than the first room) upon entering the restaurant. That little room is to the left as one enters the first room from the street. :blink:

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As an aside: as we left my partner asked GS if I could tour the kitchen. He was more than delighted to oblige but by then I was a bit too pissed & had to decline. Shame.

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(btw - what did you pay in Petrus?)

£280.00 plus service for three courses with some nice but not extravagent wine. My half of the bill was close to the most I have ever paid for my wife and I to eat out (which was at the Orrery this year £160 odd quid for the tasting menu with champagne and 2 bottles of nice plonk).

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As an aside: as we left my partner asked GS if I could tour the kitchen.  He was more than delighted to oblige but by then I was a bit too pissed & had to decline.  Shame.

Now, you see, that's the spirit.

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BLH,

I think you are right. should not have gone after the life altering experience the first time.

first time, we were in the room closest to the kitchen (before renovations) but were seated in the first room (closest to the street) on the second visit. definitely made a difference.

btw, Le Grand Vefour (the day before GS) was mind bogling good.

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A rather odd question:

At the end of a meal at GS last year (a very good meal, but quite disappointing compared to PG the night before), the chef approached our table and handed her a bag, which cotained a small decorated plate bearing the Guy Savoy logo. Has anyone else had a similar experience there? :blink:

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£280.00 plus service for three courses with some nice but not extravagent wine.

That's an awful lot (imo).

Petrus is good but not that good - its just a knocked down version of RHR.

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Has anyone else had a similar experience there?  :blink:

No - but I did nick Le Gavroche logo'd towels from their bathroom

When in ADNY they handed be a bag with a brioche in it for breakfast the next morning. Utterly stunning.

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Has anyone else had a similar experience there?  :blink:

No - but I did nick Le Gavroche logo'd towels from their bathroom

It's peeps like you that make three star restaurants switch to paper towels.

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It's peeps like you that make three star restaurants switch to paper towels.

at 300 quid for the meal - I'm sure they've factored it in

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We were not looking forward to going to Guy Savoy. Our last meal, before the remodel was OK, but not extraordinary.

The restaurant looks entirely different--the Maitre d' said they re-did everything except the Chef as "he owns the place." (an exact quote)

There are now 3 small dining rooms. We were shown to a room towards the rear of the restaurant. The room is ultra contemporary with one wood wall, 2 chocolate brown fabric covered walls, and 1 tan painted wall. The only decoration is provided by 2 large contemporary paintings. The high ceiling is paneled in frosted glass from which is suspended white panels which provide a "floating look."

The dining room we were in seats 20 with the service tables in a hallway outside the room. There is no hustle or bustle in the room. Serving tables are removed except when serving.

Champagne and an amuse of foie gras on toast. A few minutes later a second piece was offered, a nice touch.

2nd amuse--on a square glass dish we received 3 smaller glass dishes (1) cream of carrot soup with curry (2) zucchini wrapped tomato in an olive oil vinaigrette (3) cepe on a rosemary branch with balsamic vinegar reduction.

1st course--his signature dish of oysters--huitres en nage glacee. On a specially designed large square of bubbled glass, we were each presented with 6 large oysters in the shell. Under the oyster was a cream oyster nage and on top a nage gelee. Scattered on the plate for effect--strings of seaweed. Wonderful, but too much--3 oysters would have been the portion of choice.

2nd course--again a signature Guy Savoy dish. Lentils with black truffles. The black truffles were not the tired, light variety we experienced a few times. It seems they were purchased last March, then frozen, and thus retained their fresh, aromatic taste. (Guy Savoy shared that fact with us on his second visit to our table). The dish was rich-rich-rich, but wonderful.

3rd Course--roasted duckling a la ancienne (a dish for 2--should have been marked for two giants or 6 normal people).

The duck must have been over 5 well fed pounds--not wild duck as we had at Boyer--this was a fat farm duck. He or she probably was so fat it could not walk - no wonder it got caught and became dinner.

The Maitre d' carved the duck perfectly, extracting every morsel of meat.

The thinly sliced, rosy duck meat was fanned out on the plate surrounded by sautéed girolle mushrooms, thinly sliced sweated potatoes with diced giblets - sort of like the galette at Boyer. Unfortunately the potatoes were greasy and the giblets were over-cooked. This part just fell flat.

On the side there was a small casserole of skinless peas and 4 small mounds of pureed peas placed in a twirled string of spaghetti.

The duck was served in two courses--legs and thigh meat were to be presented as a salad.

At this point, we were on culinary overload after the first service of the duck preceded by the oysters and the lentil/foie gras. We just couldn't face any more food. We thought of looking for someone to pass the 2nd service on to, but as no one looked hungry or needy, we skipped the second service and let the kitchen have it for themselves.

We passed on cheese and asked for coffee--just a cup of expresso please! At Guy Savoy, there is no simple thing like just expresso.

Accompanying the expresso--

1. sorbet

2. thin slice of apple tart tartin

3. 2 tuiles

4 8 little tarts

5. 6 pieces of checkerboard (Guy Savoy logo) chocolate squares

6. 2 chocolate truffles

7. 2 chocolate 'thingies'

8. a chocolate partridge in a pear tree!!

Unlike our past experience at Guy Savoy where service was perfunctory, cold and haughty as a 2 star, the 3 star Guy Savoy was warm, charming, friendly, helpful and well worth revisiting on a trip when our appetites are more ready.

The one annoying part of the service was the "bread man." Before each course, he wheeled his cart to the table and helped you select the right bread for your next course. As there were 5 tables in our dining room, most of whom were doing the grand menu, that made for a lot of cart wheeling which became intrusive and then down right silly.

Wine:

2000 Dageneau, Puilly Fume, Silex--wonderful as always.

1998 Cote Rotie, Les Grands Places, Jean-Michael Gerin--lovely and perfect with the duck.

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What was the tariff?

Did they reduce it because you passed on the second serving of canard?

Sounds like a good meal.

The time I ate at GS there was a taxi strike that happened that night. At meal's end, GS had had his own fleet of dark green vehicles drive patrons back to their hotels. This was in the 2 star days.

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hollywood,

I'll have to check on the price - not cheap. Do you really think they would reduce the bill because we passed on the second service? If so, I have some property you might be interested in!!!!!

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