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Some Recent Meals in Paris


Guest ardoise

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Guest ardoise

Two diners at l'Ambroisie on March 12 and March 19 respectively confirmed that this little gem continues to uphold the highest standards and it is the standard bearer of the nouvelle cuisine spirit today after the retirement of Joel Robuchon, the untimely death of Alain Chapel and the retirement of Pierre Troisgros whose kitchen is now managed by his son. At 56 years of age, Pacaud is not showing any sign of tiredness and has achieved a level of purity and seeming simplicity that, IMO has secured his place among the greatest chefs of the 20th century. I do not know any other restaurant, or I should call an institution, which is that consistent and this is a very exalted level consistency where the quality difference between the best dishes and others is so minimal. When having dinner at L'Ambroisie and savoring their truffe bel humeur one feels that everything is fine with the world and time is standing still. No need to show this off through decorative tricks a la Patrick Jouin(who decorated Plaza Athenee for Ducasse) by wrapping the chandeliers in hugh metallic organza to drive home a not too subtle message. Pacaud himself does not need such extra support as he let his cuisine speaks for itself for a fortunate group of diners most of whose become regulars.

 

Talking about Ducasse and his temple at the Plaza Athenee, there are good news. The ballroom has now been redesigned and is no more hiding what it really is("a luxurious ballroom")and making the best use of it. Gone are the silly things like the wrapping of chandeliers and now we have a more relaxed and luxurious setting with interesting panels and noteworthy silver sculptures from Folon which decorates each table. The cooking too, which had gone down a notch after the move to Plaza Athenee from the Poincare location, is back to form. Of the six dishes we have had, four of them were very good to exquisite, with the exception of a bit chewy scallops and a lackluster Limousin lamb. Clearly the new chef Christian Moret is proving to be a worthy successor to the talented Piege(now at Les Ambassadeurs) and he seems to be tuning down half notch Ducasse's quite baroque style Parisian cuisine without altering its luscious-decadently rich essence. We will be back.

 

But I don't think we(myself and my wife)will be back at L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon My respect for the great chef whose cuisine I was priveleged to savor many times in the 80s notwithstanding, L'Atelier is a joke and a ludicrously expensive one at that. One mid sized and not so fresh scallop,clearly taken out of the shell long before it is served and then served in a shell (for more than 20 euros), a single langoustine in a ravioli which is a mushy mess (for more than 25 Euros), etc. The simple tartine de pied de porc with parmesan and truffle turned out to be the best dish, save for the fact that the two thin slices of truffles were inexcusably tasteless at a time (march 14)the truffles should have been at their peak. The spaghetti aux truffes featured the same precut and refrigerated poor quality truffles but fortunately the foie gras(not in the descriiption, a nice surprise)filling elevated this dish to a higher level. Overall L'Atelier comes across as an assembly line operation and clearly the management can plant as many Ateliers as they want in all corners of the world given that all their disrespect for prime ingredients. But I suppose Robuchon deserves to cash on his well deserved reputation but I can not justify the inclusion of two good chefs, Lecerf of ex-Astor and Braun of ex-Laurent in this operation. Both of these chefs were present during our lunch.

 

A much better and cheaper(though not cheap)and light lunch alternative in Paris by the way is a Japanese sushi place called Isamiin Ile Saint Louis. Absolutely pristine quality sushi. There are not too many tables so reservations are recommended. They speak a little French.

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l'Atelier de Robuchon is no dout a joke and as such it seems consistent. My most recent meal there a few months ago was deplorable. I have had the langoustine ravioli that ardoise refers to on three occasions and the langoustines have on every occasion been equally mushy. I have come to the conclusion that they serve frozen langoustines or langoustines that have been left on ice for several days. Rip-off is an adequate description of this place.

 

I am glad that ardoise liked Isami as he went there on my recommendation. It is indeed small and very simple place that do serve pristine sushi and sashimi.

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perhaps it might explain some of it.

I don't think so. But I've seen a couple of positive comments, maybe they get it right on occasion or maybe his expectations aren't the same as those of ardoise.

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