mardi 12 juin 2007

Guy Savoy:Christmas all year long (en)


(Sebastian Straessle et Florence Botel/Guy Savoy)

La version française est ici.

As promised, review of the Savoy lunch last Thursday.

First things first: it really was a 100€ menu. You need to make an Internet reservation and only one table is available at each lunch. We were given menus without prices, but they were identical to the regular Savoy menu. So this is excellent value, at least when compared to usual Savoy prices. It is still Savoy however, so this two persons lunch still ended up costing 364€ because we had three glasses of wine and a coffee each.

I do not believe that the intrinsic quality of the food is up to the best restaurants in Paris (l'Arpège, Gagnaire, and mostly l'Ambroisie). I do however believe that the overall experience is one of the best in Paris. A meal in here is a party.
(Sebastian Straessle et Florence Botel/Guy Savoy)
The setting is remarkably pleasant, and the touch of table cloth of leather chair, the very sophisticated, if discreet, lighting awake senses from the get go. In the room I dined in (the restaurant is organised as a collection of little rooms), there was a huge painting of a clown hat, whose colours came out as incredibly joyful. It was not an eye-catcher, and ignoring it was easy. But it instilled some simple joy in the room, another non-cooking feature of the house.

The staff is incredibly professional and highly individualised -- not only adapted to the client, but also letting each waiter's personality express. Eric Mancio, sommelier and director of the restaurant, is a hugely kind, sensitive yet simple guy. He chooses wines that are like him, watching for you, almost taking care. A incredibly mineral, water-like Condrieu came with our sausage. The aperitif was an intensely sweet, but not over-sugaring Muscat vendanges tardives of Ostertag, and the meat came with one of those intense red wines from the Southwest that are the new Eldorado for sommeliers in search for affordable wines and solid margins.(Guy Savoy, Photo Eric Brissaud/Guy Savoy)

Hubert, the German maitre d' is a local star. He will always offer to take over your meal (starting with, but not limited to, your order) and wish you "Pon plaizir" (or "good pleasure" in French with a German accent). For me, he always plays a kind and sweet lusty clown, posing as having trouble letting go of the food he is serving. Last week, he was advertising his "fraizes de Ploukastel korchées de soleil" (or his "Plougastel strawberries stuffed with sun" with the same double translation), even when passing by our table pushing the trolley of desserts, apparently speaking to himself. Show business, I tell you. (Dessert trolley, picture Laurance Mouton/Guy Savoy)

You are always brought and offered a little something in this place, and, strangely, it almost never feels like too much. As soon as you are seated, you are brought a mini foie gras club sandwich, which is assembled quickly on a little fork in front of you and given to you directly in your hands. Other sweet little bites will also be given hand to hand during the meal on many occasions, from marshmallows to caramelised grapefruits. This creates an unparalleled sense that you are the centre of attention, an impression which, I can tell, other people in the room totally shared, consciously or not.
(Photo Laurence Mouton/Guy Savoy)
Little extras go on and on -- to our three course meal, you should add three or four amuse-bouches, all very good and unchallenging, an extra bowl of soup (artichoke, truffle and Parmiggiano, with wild mushroom brioche on the side, as an apology to my lady friend who did not order, nor enjoy, the pig’s head sausage, for some reason), and an endless procession of pre-desserts, desserts trolley, post-desserts, post-coffee sweets.

Two highlights of the very end of your meal, signatures of the house, are thus the earl grey sorbet and a tiny, delicious sample of a subtle apple tart ("tarte fine", on a very thin puff pastry, with apple sauce and then very thin apple slices on top, lots of butter and sugar involved in proportion to the apple -- but wow yammy).

Before we got to the never ending dessert, we had a first course out of the regular menu, by my special request: a sabodet. It is a traditional sausage from the Lyons region, made out of pig's head and served with a potato salad. Don't worry, it was my idea and Savoy offers first course less scary (see his website).

I found it admirable. The sausage in itself offers a lot of different consistencies, none of the which presents the unpleasant resistance of, say, pig ears. The potatoes smoothen the taste, which is not particularly strong actually, and, on top of the perfect cooking of both (the sausage was cooked but not dry at all – strong tastes in that kind of dish often comes from overcooking), the “grand restaurant” touch came with a herb vinaigrette that had the consistency of a butter sauce, and brought all these different consistencies and tastes together. Despite its lack of “nobility”, this one dish was absolutely three-star to me.

We then had the signature dish -- Côte de veau juste rôtie, purée de pommes de terre. I always loved that dish, simple, intense, and refined. Contrariwise to my memories (hadn't eaten there in years), the cooking is OK but not perfect. Well, some parts are perfect, some overcooked. The juice is liquid and yet too strong, almost with a taste of burnt. And the purée, that has juice and butter in it, is too rich. But have the three together in one spoon, and it is just delicious. Also, it is always a pleasure for me when my meat is sliced in front of me and my plate assembled on the trolley by high-class professional who makes it look easy.

Delicious is the motto of the place. Your pleasure, your immediate and full pleasure, is taken very seriously around here.

Again, it is not to say that it was perfect cooking, easy to digest and could not be better. It definitely felt like I ate and drank a lot a few hours later. But I will go back and bring friends for expensive parties of all sorts. It is not accurate to call this place a restaurant. It is more a food theatre.

1 commentaire:

good food a dit…

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