Thursday, February 11, 2010

Gastronomy in Paris: Guy Savoy

with SJX and RobG

Guy Savoy is THE celebrated French chef! As the youngest of the haute cuisine innovators, famous fo light, nouvelle cuisine, this 62 year old is full of energy and concocts dishes which not only one marvels at with the ingenious use of ingredients, but also which fulfills, teases, cajoles, provokes the taste buds.

The restaurant at 18 rue Troyon, just a short walk from the Arc de Triumph and the Avenue de Champs Elysee, the restaurant features a discrete front door. Once inside, the decor is modern, a bit similar to Iggy's which I reviewed earlier. See lunch and degustation.

As we were seated, we were immediately offered a club sandwich.

Tiny, but made up like a club sandwich, with a tiny bit of toast, foie gras. It was excellent. The toast was more like a crouton, but light and crispy. The nuttiness of the foie gras was apparent, and the truffle oil used lifted the sandwich. Promising to bring further adventures to the tastebuds.

We promptly ordered a glass of house champagne.

And started perusing the menu...

We were tossed between the set menus...but it looked too heavy for the Maitre d' recommended a special menu for us...lighter, and more suitable for lunch, comprising of two appetizers and two main courses each. He described the courses in detail and obvious delight. It sounded good to us, so we opted for it. Two appetizers - a lobster dish and the signature Guy Savoy soup, and two mains: a fish and guinea fowl.

Then the labourous task of chosing some wines. I was presented with the rather large wine list...

And with the help of the sommelier, chose two whites, to complement our appetizers and main courses.

We then began the show...even lunch at a 3 star Michelin restaurant is a show...lasting 2 to 3 hours, and amusing. Service was excellent, as was expected...attentive, knowledgable, and very pleasant. Starting with the amuse bouche:

The amuse was served as a double espresso cup, joined at the facing up, the other facing down. Into the up facing cup, a ladle of pumpkin soup was poured...pepper as you wish rests on the bottom of the inverted cup, and may be added as you wish. I enjoyed the soup...robust pumpkin flavours, in a smooth creamy texture. As I lifted the conjoined cups, the inverted bowl reveals a tiny pastry tartlet pastry with foie gras. The tartlet was super light, almost like paper, and crisp. The foie gras, was of course, excellent.

The first wine was served:

Chateau Soucherie, Savenneries 2007. From the French Loire region from chenin grapes, and hardly a premier cru or grand cru, but we found the wine to be rather nice, pale golden hue on the eye, on the nose - honey flavours, tart. On the palate it was quite fine, full, structured.

Before the food proper was served, we were presented with the Bread Cart:

Bread was specially baked by Guy's France, the bakery is a kind of religion...neighbours who are normally civil and polite, sometimes come to blows when discussing which baker gets their custom and why...maybe that's why bread in French is called "pain"...:-) The waiter described each bread in detail, and explained that he would serve a specially selected bread with each course.

Then the first appetizer. Breston lobster "raw cooked" in cold stream.

The thearetical aspect of fine dining rears its sometimes beautiful head...witness a large plate, with a bowl containing a tartine of lobster...the sides of the plate is perforated. Some liquid carbon dioxide is dished into the perforations, evaporating immediately to form a cloud of mystery. A consomme of lobster is then dished into the bowl. When the CO2 cloud dissipated, it reveals the lobster sitting in the consomme. The lobster was very fresh, lightly cooked, and tasted of the sea and crustaceans. Flesh was firm to the bite, sweet. The consomme complemented the meat particularly well...just a tad savoury, the hot broth was tasty.

An intermezzo of cream of squash cappucinno:

This creamy soup allowed the palate to refresh, and recharge after the lobster dish. And be prepared to be assulted by the main soup.

The second appetizer was none other than the famous Artichoke and black truffle soup, with layered brioche with mushrooms and truffles:

Although I don't usually like artichokes, I decided I should try this, as this is one of Guy's most famous of dishes. And I was glad I did. The soup was quite sublime...the flavour of fresh heart of arthchoke was present, but ever so lightly. It was creamy to the palate, and the black truffles and parmesan chese was a wonderful foil. The truffles were fragrant, and almost dreamy. And the cheese anchored the dream in a bit of reality...being more robust and a bit chewey.

The brioche which accompanied was wonderfully light, and the truffle butter quite nice...done by the waiter in-situ. Very nice, light and fragrant, but for me, though I thouroughly enjoyed it, I felt it hardly complemented the soup.

And the second white wine: Joseph Drouhin, Chassagne-Montrachet, Marquis de Languiche 2004.

Quite a different white from the first. Scoring 96 points on the Wine Spectator scale, the wine was full, luscious, elegant. Beautiful complex aftertaste.

So, on to the first main course: Roasted sea bass with sweet spices...

A fillet of sea bass, grilled to perfection...soft, tender, succulent. What was interesting was the fish was roasted with the skin, and scales on. The skin was super crispy, and the scales rendered crisp, and very tasty, but yet, and I see no evidence that the fillet and skin were cooked separately and assembled, the fish meat remained very moist, succulent. Amazing! My first taste of fish scales, and it tasted wonderful.

The dish was accompanied with mushrooms, chard ribs and fish stock infused with vanilla and sweet spices with a piece of seaweed. Wonderful dish...certainly one of the best fish I have ever eaten...I didn't know sea bass could be so full bodied on the palatte, the flesh was almost creamy, and rich. Contrapoint with the crispy skin and super crispy scales. Wonderfully shiok!

Next dish was another spectacle. When the waiter wheeled in our order on its own trolley, it looked like a huge egg...and all the other diners looked at us in wonderment...

The dish was whole guinea fowl poached in a pig's bladder, served with basmati rice and black truffle. The egg, was actually an blown up bladder, containing the the waiter proceeded to puncture it, and slice it open to reveal the guinea fowl:

The fowl was expertly carved up in-situ, with two servings each...first the white meat.

The white meat was moist, with the sinews of the muscles clearly discernable by sight and on the palate, but the meat remained very tender...smooth and tasty. Flavour was not quite gamey as I expected, but quite like chicken. The rest of the fowl was whisked away into the kitchen for warming while we ate the white meat, and returned as a second serving. The cabbage was very well done...cooked soft, but not to the point of collapse...some crunch remained. The basmati rice was very fragrant, and savoury.

After the elaborate main which time some 2 hours had passed, we were getting quite full. We started on the desserts, but first a pre-dessert...not one, but 4 courses of pre-dessert:

From top left clockwise, in order of service...Blood orange with slices of caramalized blood orange and hot blood orange sauce. Apple pie (tart tartin), a small prune cup cake, and a lemon-orange chiffon cake, with caramalized mandarin orange.

We declined the cheese course, and embarked on the dessert...the trolley:

I opted to sample most of what was offered:

From the top right, clockwise, caramel with sea salt and vanilla ice cream. Followed by a warm apple compote, almond and bergamon sorbet and vanilla pudding with pink praline pudding. All delectable. Of note is the caramel with sea salt ice cream...the taste of the sea salt was apparent...the sugar was quite subdued, just an undertone, allowing the salt to take centerstage. The puddings were also, sensuous...and I hazard to

in the kitchen with Guy

Unlike previous 3 star Michelin meals I have Hotel de Ville Chez Rochat, and at Auberge d'Lille at Illhausen, the meal at Guy Savoy was lighter...perhaps it was lunch...but the dishes were imaginative, with interesting ingredients, cooked perfectly...technically faultless, and served with a bit of fanfare one expects from a Michelin restaurant. The dishes were light, not greasy, and went down well with the wines chosen. The service attentive, knowledgable, and cheerful. The chef made his rounds, joyful and obviously enjoying himself very much...and in his element entertaining his guests, as I am sure as when toiling in the kitchen. Overall, I found the meal to be excellent, and a bit overwhelming.

Guy Savoy will open in Singapore Sands IR soon. I will be watching out for it to sample more of the delights.

Restaurant Guy Savoy
18 rue Troyon
Paris 75017
+33(0)143 804 061
Opening Hours:
12pm–2pm, 7pm–1030pm
Reservations mandatory...either by phone or on their website

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