Tag Archives: France

Le Relais Bernard Loiseau, Saulieu

P1070268Chef: Patrick Bertron   Website: www.bernard-loiseau.com   Cuisine: Modern French

The culinary world lost a legend in 2003 when one of France’s most respected chefs took his own life, possibly influenced by rumours that he was about to lose his third Michelin star. Setting aside this controversial matter, Loiseau’s contribution to the culinary world is echoed through the practices still observed today at most fine dining restaurants. Ahead of his time, he departed from the french standard of using butter and cream, instead substituting fish and meat stock to provide flavour. He even thickened his sauce through reduction, something inconceivable in the 1970’s. He was only the second person in the culinary world after Paul Bocuse to be awarded the Légion d’Honneur by the French President, François Mitterrand. Quite an honour indeed!

P1070254From humble beginnings of a rundown 18th century coaching inn, the building transformed into a culinary destination and luxury accommodation that is now part of the Relais and Chateaux network. Now under the management of Loiseau’s wife Dominique Brunet and the culinary direction of Loiseau’s second in command, Patrick Bertron, the restaurant has managed to maintain their third Michelin star to date. As we were driving through the region en route to Italy, we thought we’d make the most by stopping by for their unbelievably well priced four-course Nationale 6 Lunch (70 euro).

P1070186The menu, rightly for the price, did not have any options so it was a very easy choice. Our starter was a rather classic Œuf cassé et pointes d’asperges gourmandes au coulis saveur tonka (poached egg with a gourmand asparagus and a tonka flavoured coulis). A simple dish but executed perfectly; runny yolk, asparagus with a bite, salty ham for seasoning the dish and a rather interestingly intense and spicy tonka infused sauce that brought a new dimension to the dish.

P1070194For our fish courses we had the Filet de Féra du lac Léman cuit façon meunière, champignon rosé de Paris en royale et beurre blanc à l’origan. A fillet of the Broad Whitefish (Féra) from Lake Léman was prepared with a buttery meuniere sauce, accompanied by three preparations of mushrooms including a tower of sautéed and puréed mushrooms encased in a thin layer of toasted bread. This highly prized fish, which is a close relative to salmon and trout, is particularly sought after from this lake. It was very fresh, subtle and absent of any less favourable ‘fishiness flavours’ you can occasionally get with fish.

P1070204We had some mixed feelings on our meat course of the Pavé de porc du Limousin, cannelloni de légumes à la moutarde d’estragon et rognonnade à la bourguignonne, jus infusé au boldo. The vegetable cannelloni with the tarragon infused mustard was the star component of the dish with a lovely crispy exterior texture and soft juicy flesh of the vegetable. Unfortunately, I found the pork fillets a touch on the dry side, though the kidney cooked in Burgundy style was delicious and absent from any of that pungent smell and aftertaste one can sometimes encounter with kidney.

P1070213Dessert was perhaps the least imaginative with the Fraicheur de fruits rouges et melon à l’estragon, but then again what could we expect for such a bargain price? The melon sorbet was remarkably creamy and had some zing from the hints of tarragon that had been blended in. The strawberry purée and watermelon foam complemented to the dish with their natural sweetness.

P1070220Some pastries to finish the meal starting with apple, followed by lemon, and finished with rhubarb. If there’s one thing the French did well it was their pastry. I was hoping to have some coffee with it but the waiter indicated there would be a separate plate of petit fours to go with that and made the suggestion to have it in their garden. An excellent suggestion!

P1070246Perhaps the menu we opted for was not a fair representation of what Bertran was capable of delivering. As expected from a three-Michelin starred restaurant, the execution here was flawless and there were no slip ups from the front of house. I did however feel that the food had not entirely departed from the era of ‘nouvelle cuisine’ despite some futile attempts in introducing some modern elements. Fundamentally, I felt there was a lack of excitement and creativity in the dishes. At a time where new generations of chefs continue to push the culinary boundary, I suspect, without continued innovation, it will probably be a matter of time before they lose that third twinkle.

Le Mirazur, Menton

P1070776Chef: Mauro Colagreco    Website: www.mirazur.fr    Cuisine: Modern French

Perched on the hillside of the Franco-Italian border overlooking the glittering Mediterranean sea and the Côte d’Azur is Mirazur, a two-Michelin starred restaurant headed by the charismatic chef Mauro Colagreco. Colagreco left his native Argentina in 2001 to work under the notable Bernard Loiseau, Alain Passard and Alain Ducasse before opening his restaurant in Menton in 2006. Further to his impressive CV, Colagreco has defied the odds by becoming one of only a handful of foreign chefs on French soil that has more than one star to his name and become the first foreign chef to win the coveted title of Gault Millau ‘chef of the year’.

P1070614The restaurant occupied a 1950’s modernist building, redesigned by the architect Rick Mather, with the main dining room located on the top floor. Whilst the interior space was comfortable with ample space, I was glad to have requested the window table…

P1070632… which had a jaw-dropping view over Menton and afar. Unfortunately, the sun had disappeared for the rest of the afternoon but that did not dampen our spirit. The menu at Mirazur was entirely dependent on the fresh local produce available on the given day. Other than for allergies and dislikes, the kitchen had full control over the menu and all we could do was wait eagerly at our table as each course was brought out. We sipped our glasses of Billecart-Salmon Rosé as our amuse bouches were brought out starting with…

P1070621… Langoustine bonbon which was a crispy deep fried shell that contained a concentrated langoustine broth. It had to be eaten in one bite or you otherwise risked wearing the content. Delicate crustacean flavours which could have benefited perhaps from a bit more reduction to concentrate the flavour.

P1070623A sweet and tangy Beetroot chip with goats cheese and variety of beetroot balls which was very simple but delicious.

P1070629The ultimate amuse bouche of the Seaweed cracker with Norwegian salmon with a herbal mixture of mascarpone was an absolute delight. The slightly salty cracker with umami from the seaweed enhanced the fresh sweet flavour of the salmon. Wow. I was amazed to see how much flavour Colagreco managed to draw out from just a handful of ingredients.

P1070636Next came a wooden board with a large loaf of sourdough pain de partage, literally breaking bread for sharing, as a gesture of welcome to Mirazur following the Argentinian tradition. It came with a generous amount of Menton lemon and ginger infused olive oil and butter. The bread had a lovely crusty exterior and fluffy interior, perfect for soaking up the aromatic and peppery olive oil.

P1070637The first course of the Huitres au concombre set an extremely high standard and expectation for the meal to come. It was a beautiful marriage of flavours between the fresh oysters high in minerality, seaweed and cucumber served two ways – a refreshingly cool purée and slices rolled up. 

P1070645A good selection of bread was on offer including a cinnamon and almond roll, a sourdough rye, baguette and a flat and cracker-like textures pane carasau that had been seasoned in aromatic rosemary and sea salt. I went for… all of them!

P1070647Our second course was a further impressive Carpaccio de Gamberoni de San Remo, et pêche et basilic. Freshly caught prawns from San Remo were carefully sliced and prepared as a carpaccio, served with little balls of peaches and peach jus as well as basil leaves. There were different layers of sweetness from the natural sweetness of the prawns to the fruity one of the peach and its jus. The finishing touches of the peppery basil completed this dish, making it one of the highlights from the meal.

P1070659The Salades d’haricots, cerises et vinaigrette à la pistache was no ordinary salad. There were butter beans, green beans, shavings of zucchini, all cooked to perfection with a bite, served with pistachios, shallots, red onion, red and white cherries and ginger. The salad had then been dressed with herbs from Colagreco’s garden, lemon infused oil and white balsamic vinegar. I admire a chef who has the confidence to serve a salad dish and make it this good. Despite its unassuming appearance this was one of the most memorable dishes of the day.

P1070662More flavours of the ocean with the Navet et palourdes au bouillon de coquillage (turnip and clams in a broth made from shells). The turnip had absorbed the broth made from shells providing a sweet and mineral component to the dish, drawing out the sweetness of the clams. The only thing that didn’t belong on this dish were the nasturtiums.

P1070670A beautifully presented Oeuf canne, crème de choux fleur et anguille fumée, effectively a duck shell that had been emptied and refilled with its yolk, cauliflower purée and smoked eel with a piece of hazelnut hiding inside. It was a very rich dish despite it’s simplistic look, making the small portion ideal. I was almost tempted to dunk a solider (how decadent would that be?) but sadly had already finished my bread.

P1070685Colagreco was a magician with an ability to really transform simple vegetables into a stunning dish like the Ragout de courgettes du jardin, boulots et bouillon de légumes grillés. The star of this dish was the deep smokey flavour of the stock made from grilled vegetables which was also used to cook the courgettes and squash from his garden and the sea snails. What was unbelievable was that the best was yet to come…

P1070691… which was the Risotto de quinoa, cepes, mousserons, charbonniers, girolles et crème de parmesan. A large slate weighing around 5kg was presented to us as a sharing course. On it were generous portions of ceps, oyster, mousseron, charbonnier and girolle mushrooms on a bed of quinoa risotto and a creamy sauce made from parmesan. The morsels of parsley brioche were perfect to mop up the cream. This was funghi heaven and despite the ridiculously large portion, we mopped it all up. I still dream about this dish…

P1070697The catch of the day was Turbot au jus d’oignon (with an onion juice). The fillet of the turbot was utterly delightful with a firm texture. Although the surprising star of this dish was the buttery onion jus that left you wanting more. The fish was more a conduit to canvas the flavour of the sweet jus.

P1070701The only meat course of the day was the Cochon de lait, polenta aux noix et jus corsé; milk fed suckling pig served with a bed of polenta with nuts, onions and champignon mushroom. Perfect crackling and tender meat but we were stuffed. The risotto dish had KO’d us. A sound dish, although admittedly, I thought his vegetable and seafood dishes were much more interesting.

P1070712At my wife’s insistence, we decided to share a platter of cheese, including some comté and argui to go with a glass of port.

P1070721The Soupe de camomille, sorbet pomme verte et feuille de lait served as a palate cleanser, transitioning to the dessert segment. The aromatic and flowery camomile soup was very soothing on the palate and the touch of acidity from the green apple sorbet cleansed what was lingering from the cheese course. The milky cream downed the tartness of the green apple, making this a very balanced dish.

P1070730Dessert was by no mean inferior to the savoury dishes. The Crème de safran, espuma d’amandes, sorbet orange was exactly what I needed after the epic meal. The orange brioche was perfect in soaking up the sweet nutty almond foam, slightly bitter saffron cream and cold orange sorbet. But wait… Colagreco had one more dish!

P1070733If we were not before, then we certainly became gluttons after this meal. Mind you, we didn’t mind either! Our grand finale was the Brioche maison caramelisée, purée de fraises et fleurs de sureau, a fluffy and light caramelised brioche with a wild strawberry purée and elderberry flowers. The natural sweetness of the strawberries was unbelievable! I could have had a bowl of them on their own.

P1070751We decided to get some fresh air and make most of the intermittent sunny spells we had. I have a rule that where the opportunity arises I would light my favourite Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure No. 2 cigar after a memorable meal and this was one of them. But before puffing away on the deck over looking Mauro’s gardern and the Mediterranean, I savoured the Menton lemon macaron, citrus jelly and blown rice pudding, followed by a shot of Argentinian grappa to go with my cigar. Perfect recommendation I must say!

P1070609I couldn’t quite put my finger at describing Colagreco’s cuisine for it wasn’t constricted to a region or nation. If anything, Colagreco’s focus was really on drawing out big flavours from a handful of ingredients and produce, keeping the flavours harmonious. The dishes appeared deceptively simple, yet every component down to the wild flowers and herbs picked from his garden added a new dimension and impact to each dish. And then there was also the spectacular view, the friendly service and Colagreco’s passion that was evidently contagious to his team. We couldn’t help but smile throughout our five hour experience that felt like it ended all too soon. This undoubtedly is one of the best restaurants in the world right now.

La Grenouillere, Montreuil sur Mer


Chef: Alexandre Gauthier      Website: www.lagrenouillere.fr     Cuisine: Modern French

I think it’s a fair assumption to say that the French in general have a relatively low tolerance for modern cuisine and, to a certain extent, I can see their point; why fix something when it’s right? Challenging this concept however, there has been a growing number of chefs over the last decade that have been daring enough to embrace the modern aesthetic. Alexandre Gauthier is one such individual. Since taking over the reins from his father in 2003, Gauthier has come a long way to regain the Michelin star the restaurant lost in 2001. In addition, he has established a hotel that fully encompasses his unique vision and reflects his ethos of working with nature.

P1090555The auberge and restaurant are situated in an idyllic location right by the river Canche, outside the village of Montreuil. This picturesque site is further enhanced by what appears to be a completely wild and rugged garden, full of wild flowers and grasses. On closer inspection however, it is clear that every detail has been carefully considered, highlighting Gauthier’s respect of the natural environment.

P1090503In usual fashion, we commenced the evening with a glass of champagne and an array of amuse bouches in the sitting room located in the old farmhouse that previously served as the main dining room during Gauthier’s fathers time. The imposing fireplace added character to the rustic room that had wooden beams across the ceiling and polished stone floors. Gauthier has thoughtfully and lovingly conserved the room in its former style, respecting the roots and rich history of the auberge.

P1090573The restaurant, on the other hand, went through a serious transformation in 2011 when Gauthier discovered Patrick Bouchain (the architect behind the contemporary gites, Les Cadoles, Maison Troisgros) and employed him to help “reinvent” the restaurant. The result has been a giant theatrical space allowing curious patrons to observe the chefs working methodically in the modern and open kitchen during their meal.

P1090531The new minimalist dining room equipped with tanned leather chairs and tables was elegant but simple, and did not distract diners from the beautiful garden surrounding the entire room visible through floor to ceiling windows.

P1090572We managed to try all the bread that was on offer throughout the evening. Suffice to say, bread making is a religious affair in France that even the avant garde chefs are simply not willing to do without. Great textures, crust and flavours.

P1090583The first course of the evening was a light and delicate egg white curd that had been stuffed with grey shrimps (Blanc d’oeuf caillé, crevettes grises). Interesting texture not too dissimilar to that of cottage cheese.

P1090584An extra course of razor clam was placed on the edge of our bowl (Ensin, blanc d’oeuf…). The raw clam, served in its shell on a bed of fluffy egg white foam dusted with corn powder, had a very clean and mineral flavour. Nice crunchiness from the fine crouton crumbs.

Green strawberry, seaweed, fresh cockles and sea waterI must admit tonight was a first for many things but I had not expected to try green strawberry (Fraise verte…), nor combined it with cockles, seaweed and homemade seawater. The acidity of the unripe strawberry added freshness to the dish and was amazingly balanced by the sweetness of the slightly cooked cockles. The seaweed provided a textural element and the “seawater” was the perfect seasoning to bring the dish altogether. A highly unique and delicious dish!

P1090595I similarly enjoyed the octopus and petit pois (Petits pois, seiche…), particularly how Gauthier played with the texture. The octopus was soft and mushy (as one would usually expect from cooked peas) whereas the giant petit pois were cooked with extreme precision to provide a delicious crunch. The concentrated petit pois juice served at the table rounded off this naturally sweet dish. Admittedly, what impressed me most with this dish was how much flavour of the octopus I could taste as they are quite often served with sauces that dominate the flavour of the dish.

P1090600A gigantic 000 oyster, hiding under a long tagliatelle of zucchini (Huître grillée, courgette…). The oyster perfumed with smoke went particularly well with the peppery rocket and sweet zucchini.

P1090604Another surprise course appeared containing cockles with slices of raw yellow squash and lemon zest (Courges jeunes, coques, fleur). The squash was the perfect canvas to amplify the flavour of the clams whilst giving a meaty texture.

P1090607The surprise courses kept on coming including this John Dory course (Saint-Pierre, épinard fumé…). The delicately salted fillet of fish arrived perched atop a bed of silky smoked spinach and crunchy spring onion.

P1090613I had to do a double take when the little cushions made from wheat were presented amongst an entangled rope (Coussin de blé…). The cushions were filled with a very seductive white truffle emulsion that engulfed our table with its aroma for the next five minutes. Delicious.

P1090618An example of Gauthier’s obsession in respecting and maintaining the purity of ingredient was the delicate lobster tail, slightly poached, and infused lightly with the smoke from the burning juniper branch it was served in (Homard, genièvre…). Putting aside the theatrical spectacle of the dish, the buttery flavour and succulent texture of the lobster was stunning and the aroma of the burning juniper enhanced the taste without necessarily complicating the “essence” of the dish.

P1090626The globe artichoke served on a bed of thistle seeds (Chardon, grainés) was probably the least favourite dish of the evening. Don’t get me wrong, the dish wasn’t terrible but neither was it interesting. There was something missing on the plate which I couldn’t put my finger on. Possibly some kind of a sauce or something that bound the elements together. It was rather dry.

P1090632Another surprise course of the grilled frogs legs served on a bed of basil leaves (Grenouilles grillées, basilic), dressed with a caramel flavoured mousse made from butter and lemon. Tender and delicious, but most interestingly you could really taste the meat and it was divine. I don’t think I’ve ever taste the flavour so distinctly before as most restaurants have tended to deep-fry them to a crisp. Brave move but the risk paid off.

P1090636Our penultimate savoury course had me wondering for a while as I couldn’t see any girolles mushroom at first sight (girolle, peau de lait, amandes…). Rather, the girolles that had been lightly pan fried in garlic butter were nestling below a thin skin of slightly sour goats milk with some almonds. Complex flavours with the sour note working well in contrast to the peppery mushroom.Vachette with courgette despite it hav ing the crunch texture exactly like celery. Great flavours from such a cheap cutOur only meat course consisted of a smokey thin cut of steak which was served with garlic scapes / stems (vachettes, tiges…). Gauthier came out himself to serve this course to explain why he chose a cheap cut as he firmly believed that mundane ingredients properly prepared could be phenomenal. Granted, it was a bit chewy but it was packed with flavour. What amazed me most and remains a mystery was how he managed to infuse such an intense smokey flavour into the meat, given it was served blue?

P1090652Dessert was by no means inferior to the impressive dishes that had preceded it. I certainly would not have thought that presenting a block of honeycomb at our table would have aroused as much excitement as some of the spectacles I experienced in places like el Bulli; but it did. The waitress prepared the piece of honeycomb on a small spoon and dressed it with the juice from a fresh lemon. It was so simple yet ingenious and truly refreshing!


To top it off, the waitress prepared us some home made mead, that incorporated local honey, yeast and water, by using what appeared to be an industrial sized mouth pump pipette contraption. A beautiful combination with the piece of honey; a light floral tone and refreshing citrus aftertaste.P1090663The first dessert course had the overall effect of grazing over a green field (Herbes grasses…). The bottom layer revealed thin slices of creamy avocado on which sat a piece of avocado and pistachio sponge cake, topped with a herb ice cream. The combination of creamy avocado, nutty sweet cake and cold tangy ice cream was unbelievable. Certainly not something I would have chosen off menu but I was glad to have had it. Chocolate in many texturesAny equally odd combination followed with chocolate and French parsley (Cacao, cerfeuil…). The French parsley were carefully scattered across the chocolate cookie-wafer body, held together using smooth chocolate cream. The chocolate was delicate and luxurious but perhaps the French parsley was rather more visually appeasing, and less so on the palate.

P1090668Our last course tasted was colourful as it looked (Framboise, coquelicot…). Elegantly balanced on a bed of goats yoghurt was a tower of square raspberry jelly and black liquorice biscuits, topped with poppy petals. A perfect way to finish the evening.

P1090565I was generally impressed with the avant-garde cuisine that Gauthier had developed. Contrary to many of his peers in France, his cooking was expressed through his eccentricity in combining mundane ingredients and products to create something new and unusual. By experiencing the whole tasting menu one could only get a glimpse of his vision, but what was obvious was his appreciation and respect for natural flavours. I liked the fact that he enjoyed challenging the palate of the discerning diners without compromising on his philosophy. Just as how Bocuse had led a culinary revolution many decades ago with ‘nouvelle cuisine’, it’s encouraging to see the next generations of chef doing the same by challenging the norm. La Grenouillere may perhaps be one of the most exciting restaurant in France right now.

Ledoyen, Paris

P1060886Chef: Christian LeSquer      Website: www.ledoyen.com      Cuisine: Modern French

Ledoyen is one of Paris’ oldest restaurants situated in the quiet gardens off the Champs Elysées. The restaurant dates as far back as 1779 when it operated as an inn in the outskirt of Paris before it transformed into a restaurant under Pierre-Michel Ledoyen twelve years later. As one of Paris’ oldest restaurant it has catered for some high profile individuals including Monet, Picasso, Cezanne, Degas and Flaubert, and was reportedly where Napoleon and Joséphine first met. As a restaurant that has been far more secretive about their success, I was very curious to try Head Chef Christian LeSquer’s cooking. After all, he was instrumental in gaining the third Michelin star after joining the restaurant in 2002.

P1060879The neoclassical influenced two storey building, which extended to the interior, evidenced by the luxurious and elegant curtain and coordinating wall papers. This must be one of the most majestic dining space in Paris and surprisingly very comfortable too from the generously large tables to the plush armchairs. All three sides of the dining room looked out on the tranquil garden and almost made you forget you were in the middle of a large city.

P1060798Unlike many of the other three Michelin starred establishments in Paris, Ledoyen also has an amazing offer during the weekday for lunch. For only 128 euros you can get an amazing three-course meal, which also includes a few tasty surprises before, between and after the courses. What’s more, cheese is a given and not even considered to be a course. Bargain! I noticed the Maitre’D conversing in Japanese with the diners sitting next to us before coming to take our order in fluent English. Very impressive given we were in Paris where the language of fine dining is dictated by French.

P1060794Some nibbles to kick off starting with a parcel that was filled with a delicious and aromatically inviting white truffle velouté, followed by a savoury pastry dusted with an intense mushroom powder and finishing with an onion and leek pastry served on a spoon. Classic flavours with a modern presentation; what a lovely surprise!

P1060796A variety of horseradish and squid ink crackers to go with our glass of Duval Leroy, Femme de Champagne, 2000.

P1060800A choice of three bread starting with a sesame roll that had a texture and moisture of a buttery brioche, a crusty and flavoursome baguette and finally a light flavoured olive oil bread. Suffice to say, the French take their bread very seriously and this was no exception.

P1060803Just when we thought our first course was being served, our waiter surprised us with one final mise en bouche of the smoked eel accompanied with a blue and red concentrated cabbage jus. The eel was handled very delicately and had a good amount of smokiness to it. A great balance of acidity from the red cabbage jus as well. Thoroughly impressive stuff and we had not even had our starter!

P1060807Foie Gras des Landes au vin de Médoc, Meringue citron / framboise. A very elegant dish combining a base made from rich foie gras that had been poached in red wine with a layer of a lemon and raspberry meringue sitting on top with a caramelised surface, finished with a thin crisp for textural variation. The sweetness and acidity from the meringue was just superb to cut through the foie gras, making this a very light starter. Possibly the best foie gras dish I’ve ever had to date.

P1060815We all have one of those bad decisions we would regret for a long time and the Aiguillette de Saint-Pierre à l’infusion d’Estragon was it. It was basically John Dory cooked in a water bath, served over a bed of lemon and tarragon cream and topped with some grapefruit pulps. Don’t get me wrong. It was not a bad dish but did not come close to my wife’s….

P1060823Pièce de boeuf “Hereford”, sauce ketchup. To put it simply, this was possibly the best cut of steak I have ever had outside Japan and the benchmark against which I now compare all meat dishes. A beautiful sirloin sourced from the high sought-after breed of Hereford. It had all the hallmarks of an amazing steak – juicy, soft and bags of flavour – and hardly needed anything else, including the bastardised “le ketchup” sauce. Mind you, the olive tapenade encrusted bone marrow and blown potato crisps were delicious in their own right.

P1060825And of course, when in France, one must do what a French man does, eat cheese! Superb selection from the Fromages frais et affinés (fancy way of saying fresh and matured cheese), sourced from none other than the masters of cheese, Bernard Antony and Quatre Hommes. Did I also forget to mention that the cheese course was included in the three-course option? Amazing.

P1060847Some pre-dessert nibbles to prepare our palate served on a giant meringue. A very fruity and sweet wild strawberry tart, an airy and crunchy orange brioche with raspberry jam, a ball of black and white sesame seeds and ginger, and a basil and almond crème brûlée ball.

P1060853Our meal got even better when LeSquer decided to make a special appearance and prepare specially for us a bonus course of the their signature dish, Croquant de Pamplemousse cuit et cru. A celebration of grapefruit prepared in five ways starting from the bottom with a layer of sweet confit grapefruit, grapefruit marinated in lime for that lovely citrus flavour and acidity, a refreshingly cool layer of grapefruit sorbet, a grapefruit croquant and finally grapefruit marmalade dotted across the dish. It was refreshing, cool and surprisingly well balanced as I expected the dish to be very tart. It definitely overshadowed our subsequent dessert dishes.

P1060864I opted for the Fraisier Contemporin which was, surprise surprise, all about strawberries. The naturally sweet strawberries formed the base and was also used to make the cream and foam. There was a cold layer of vanilla custard inside and some extra servings on the side just in case you wanted a bit more. Contrary to our expectation, it was a delicate course with a light flavour of strawberries despite the overwhelming pink. A contemporary take on strawberry and cream.

P1060868The other option was the Rémoulade printanière de carottes aux épices (a spring remoulade from spiced carrots). A couple of slices of fresh orange and cream formed the based to be crowned with shavings of carrot, a carrot sponge cake and some sugar work incorporating concentrated carrot juice. Beautiful vivid colours and a work of art, but more importantly it worked well. The carrot gave the depth and body to the sweet and refreshing flavours of the orange.

P1060872Just in case dessert wasn’t enough, we were also presented with some Kouign-amann avec noisette caramelisee. A traditional cake from Brittany made with bread dough containing a generous portion of butter and sugar folded in and baked slowly, served with caramelised nuts. This was like a croissant on steroid; it was much thicker and much sweeter. Delicieux!

P1060875Some caramel and chocolate mignardises to go with our coffee. We were absolutely stuffed!

P1060843From our discussion with LeSquer at the end of our meal it became apparent as to why there was so little publicity for Ledoyen; after all the website only contained a number and address. He wanted people like us to come with a sense of curiosity, not knowing what to expect. We came, we ate, and we left enchanted. From a first class front of house and comfortable dining space to a flawlessly executed meal at a bargain price, Ledoyen for me was far more enjoyable than Guy Savoy or Epicure. If you truly want an unforgettable experience in Paris, just follow the steps of Napoleon. You won’t regret it.