Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Joel Robuchon's L'Atelie

My nephew, Ryan recently was in Paris and had a fanatic meal at Joel Robuchon's L'Atelier. I decided Sandi and I had to have one of our meals there. When I informed Gary, Ramon and Milena, they in turn informed me that they were coming with us so I made reservations before we got to Paris.

We had 6:30 reservations and we got there 10 minutes before. The lady inside told us they would be opening in 5 minutes. It started to rain and luckily we were underneath the awning. They didn't let us in until 6:35 pm. It was a beautiful and impressive; everything was red and black. They seated us way inside. They had bar seating but it was not practical for 5 of us to sit there.

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We were there for the tasting menu so we all had it except for one who is allergic to shell fish. They were so accommodating and informed us it would not be a problem. We all didn't have to order the tasting menu which surprised us because in Los Angeles, the entire table has to to order the tasting menu.


We ordered a nice bottle of wine. They brought out some bread that we all enjoyed. We had to tell ourselves to stop eating or we would not be able to finish all 10 courses. We were first served amuse bouche.  It was a Crab Royale. We popped the whole thing in our mouths since it was hard to eat otherwise. I don't remember exactly what else was in there but it was good. For Milena who was allergic to shellfish, got a dish that was eggplant that had a celery mashed potato. She was impressed because usually when someone is allergic to something the chef would send a dish that was something that was not good or something that looks like an afterthought. Our third dish was a Salmon with caviar and mashed potato. We all loved that salmon that was beautifully cooked with visible caviar. Again, many times when a dish calls for caviar, they put a microscopic scoop. A Chestnut Truffle Soup with cream and chunks of bacon that was served in a glass was so creamy and yummy that I wanted to ask for straw and sip a whole glassful.


Our fourth dish was Macaroni with Truffles. This looked more like crepes filled with truffle mousse topped with more truffles. The next course was the scallop with an almond froth. The scallop was a bit overcooked. We were all impressed with the presentation of this dish. It was served on scallop dish on top of a plate with a design of a hand as it cradled the scallop dish. We later discovered that the back of the plate had the design of the back of the hands. Milena made out on this course as the chef prepared for her a Mushroom puree with egg and something mysterious which was better than our scallop. She was delirious after eating the truffle bread that looked like a puffy brioche that was absolutely delicious.  The sixth course was the Foie Gras with granny apple and a truffled potato puree. Foie gras lovers rejoiced.


The seventh course was our least favorite. It was the John Dory covered with a large piece of truffle. The fish didn't have much flavor and it almost seemed like it might have been overcooked.  The eight dish was a choice of Lamb Chops, Angus Beef, or Pigeon. I ordered the lamb to share and Sandi had the angus beef. The lamb which is a signature dish was the best lamb full of flavor served with their signature mashed potato that has probably more butter and cream than potatoes.


The ninth course was designed to cleanse our palates. It was a Brioche with hazelnut cream with orange gelee. The finale was the best dessert' a Chocolate mousse with ice cream and oreo cookies. I really didn't taste the oreo per se but there were small crunchy balls and that might have been the oreos. On top of the glass was a gold disk that was decorated  with dots, all edible. The wonderful disc was made of chocolate.


We are not surprised that the restaurant was fully packed even before we left. We were there a total of 3 hours. Service was impeccable. Presentation and ambiance enhanced our dining experience.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Angelina

Another institution in Paris located at 226 Rue de Rivoli across the Tuileries. This is a tea house that was founded in 1903. They are known for their hot chocolate and Mont Blanc.
They have a a variety of mouth watering pastries though most of them are not as good as it looks.



We went there to have their thick hot chocolate which we all loved. It's very rich and it is served with whipped cream. Since we were not planning to have lunch because of our dinner reservations at L'Atelier, we decided to have just the hot chocolate. Things changed when we were handed the menu. Gary thought we should share a couple of desserts and so we did. He had to order his favorite, Opera and we all like Saint Honore so we had 2 orders of those. Both desserts were good though we thought the Saint Honore at Carette was better.


Funny how taste can change as time goes by. I always thought Angelina had the best thick hot chocolate. After having a cup today, I have come to the conclusion that I have had better thick hot chocolate and that is from L'Amande Bakery in Los Angeles.

If you happen to be at the vicinity of the Tuileries near the Louvre, it is worth visiting Angelina for the ambiance and the experience.

L' Entrecote

This restaurant is a an institution in Paris. They have a couple of locations and every time we go to Paris, we always make sure we have a meal there. They open at 7:00 p.m. and do not take reservations so there is almost always a line of people waiting outside.

Last night we got there too early, around 6:20 p.m. There was no line, though we saw a few people dining inside. We figured it was the staff. We walked around to kill time. We got back to the restaurant at 6:40 p.m. and were shocked to see a long line. We were mad at ourselves for not starting a line when we got there. As we stood nervously thinking we would not get in, Gary decided to start counting the people in line while we try to count the seats inside. I estimated around 50 and Gary said we were number 75. Ramon estimated more than that. Thank God I am bad in mathematics! We did get in. As they filled the restaurant to capacity, people were still in line in the cold weather waiting for the second seating as they watched people inside dine through the window.

L'Entrecote serves steak cut in pieces with French fries and a wonderful sauce. You get a green salad before with a mustard dressing, bread and the main entree. You get 2 servings of the steak and fries. Many years ago, it was "eat all you can", then they limited it to 2 servings. We happen to get a waitress that was not very friendly. The first one we've encountered with a bit of an attitude. Milena who speaks fluent French spoke to her and tried to be super friendly and we just could not get a smile from her. Gary got half a smile, she responded better to men. Service was speedy as they wanted you in and out which is unusual for a restaurant in Paris. As a rule, you can order anything little and stay all night if you pleased and they would not mind at all.


We remembered their Profiteroles as being very good so we ordered one of those plus a chocolate cake and an apple tart with ice cream.  Profiteroles were excellent!
As soon as we were done with our desserts, we paid and left the place while the people that were outside came in and am sure were grateful for our early departure.


If you can't make it to Paris, New York has one and Los Angeles will have one soon.


Sunday, January 25, 2015

Carette

Another restaurant in Paris on our list was Carette. They are known for their onion soup. This cold day was perfect for Onion Soup. Five of us took the metro to have lunch at Carette.



We all decided to have the French Onion  Soup. It was the best onion soup I've ever had. We also had some crusty rolls which went well with the onion soup.


After our soup, we thought we would order 3 desserts to share. The first one was a St. Honore, the second a chocolate eclair and the third was a praline dessert which I ignored since I don't like any nutty flavor in my chocolate. Both St. Honore and the Chocolate Eclair were excellent.


Just before we were ready to leave, Gary got up and went to the restroom. On his way back he couldn't resist buying 2 macarons to share; a black currant one and the other was coffee. We all had small bites of the macarons. The black currant was tart and delicious.
Gary didn't like it as it was too sour for him. The coffee macaron was delicious.


When we got done with everything, we ended up walking and walking towards the direction of where we were to eat our dinner.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

La Maison Astier

Gary, Sandi and I took the channel from London to Paris to meet Ramon and Milena who just arrived this morning.

We had reservations for this restaurant that Gary, Ramon and Milena have been to before and they raved about the food and the only bad thing was their waiter had body odor so every time he handed them a plate or reached for something, they had a whiff of the sweet smell of success.... but the food was so good that they were willing to go back and just hoped that he was off for the evening.

We got there shortly before it opened at 7:00 p.m. We were the first customers. They led us upstairs in which looked like a private room though it had 3 other tables that sat around 8 or so. There was boar's head on the wall; I don't really know if that was supposed to enhance our dining experience.


The menu has changed because Milena and Gary wanted to order what they had before even if they didn't remember exactly what they had. Gary had the pictures on his phone and when he showed our waiter the pictures, all he said was" " I don't know, I can show it to the chef". So we studied the menu. Milena and I ordered the Butternut Soup with bacon and green cabbage. She has had it before so I went with her recommendation. It was very good indeed. Gary, Ramon and Sandi just watched the two of us. We did offer them a taste.


For our entrees, Ramon ordered the Salmon roasted in Label rouge with macaroni, fennel and squid sauce. I had a bite of it was good. Gary had the Roasted Veal Filet with melted endive, beet chutney and walnuts. It was apparently the best entree though I never got a taste of it as he devoured it. Milena and Sandi had the Lamb Leg Roasted with fresh herb crust, beans and chantrelle mushrooms.  I ordered the Braised Pork Shank with stewed cabbage with paprika and double cream. Sandi and I were to split both our orders. The lamb was a big disappointment. It was well done and tough even when we ordered it medium.  When Milena complained to our waiter in French, he apologized and later explained it was because of the cut of lamb per the chef. I have never heard of such an excuse. It the cut is not good, then they should not have it on the menu. My pork shank was 85% fat and had very little and I mean very little meat so Sandi and I were not too happy with that.



Dessert was their famous Baba Rum which was served with whipped cream. That was very good. The other dessert was a Chocolate Mousse, hazelnut salty streusel. Everyone liked. I didn't get excited because it had a strong hazelnut flavor.



By the time we left, the restaurant was packed! The question was would any of us return to this restaurant again......the answer was no.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Applebee's Fish

After our high tea at the Savoy, we didn't think we would be eating again but as we got off the river boat we headed towards Borough Market which is one of the largest and oldest food markets in the United Kingdom. We walked and crossed the London Bridge. It was cold but a lot of people were outside drinking and smoking.

After our long walk we finally ended up at the market. There were lots of restaurants. Gary had to look at his list of restaurants that were worth investigating. We looked at 3 of them and decided on the last one which was Applebee's Fish Restaurant.

As we walked in the nice warm room they asked if we had reservations as they were fully booked.  We of course didn't have any but I guess he took mercy on us and asked if we didn't mind sitting on the high chairs. At this point we would have sat on the floor just to be warm and  get some warm food.

The special of the evening was a combination of different fish; salmon, cod, hake, swordfish and shrimp. Marie and I had the special, Gary had the cod fish and Sandi had her fish and chips. We all loved our fish; fresh as can be and very tender. The only thing that could have been improved was the batter of the fish on the fish and chips. It was not crispy as the breading was way too thick. Well, at least she enjoyed the fish with malt vinegar and the chips.


We had the chocolate fondant and a saffron raspberry creme brulee for dessert. We shared everything which was good because we really could  not have had individual desserts.