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Published on : Monday, June 20, 2016
For the gourmet restaurant at the Hôtel Le Meurice, the multi-Michelin- starred chef is crafting a menu that celebrates his culinary philosophy, guided by the watchwords of excellence, elegance and experience.The chef takes care to preserve the authentic flavours of exceptional ingredients and transport them from the kitchen to the table. Each dish expresses the truth of its ingredients. The yellow, purple and orange carrots, artichokes and Chioggia beetroots in the vegetable casserole come from Créance in Normandy, where they were strictly organically grown. The caviar, made from the eggs of Schrencki sturgeons sourced from China’s Amur River, is served with the bonito and has a beautiful amber tint that bewitches the eye before its mellow, silky taste enchants the palate.
For the diner to experience true pleasure, the technical intervention of the chef must be unnoticeable. Yet, with Jocelyn Herland and his staff, technical mastery is very present! It is found in traditional nods to French Haute Cuisine, for example, with the guinea fowl pie in a delicate short crust. Or in the savvily mastered complexity of the bonito fillet that is first very lightly seared for consistency, then smoked with birch wood before being marinated for twenty-four hours in a seasoned jus. Nevertheless the diner will know nothing of this extensive process: elegance is only ensured when the technique modestly fades into the background.
For Alain Ducasse, “A successful meal is an unforgettable moment of happiness.” It means contrast on the palate that renders every mouthful truly memorable. These surprises start with the amuse-bouche in the form of a quail egg: the egg is poached, rolled in a blend of lime peel and grated horseradish, then arranged in a thin buckwheat crêpe and topped with an exquisite caviar quenelle.
The same perfectly mastered, yet unexpected tastes are found in the meat. The salmis sauce and turnip- horseradish condiment served with the pigeon en crapaudine add delightful vigour. More astounding still: the veal medallion, a down-to- earth dish if ever there was one, is larded with marinated anchovies and served with a fresh seaweed infusion and an oyster condiment that are redolent of the sea.
La cuisine de l’essentiel remains ever faithful to the truth of the ingredient and honest, interpretable dishes. But freely reinterpreted to provide new impetus, gain new momentum. The essential expressed in pastry, for Executive Pastry Chef Cédric Grolet, means shaking off the excess sugar and fat that suffocates flavour – furthermore the appetite! But also limiting the number of ingredients to make tastes lighter and more easily recognised.
The wine menu is designed, first and foremost, to bring the taste of a terroir into the glass. With expert guidance from Gérard Margeon, Executive Head Sommelier for the Alain Ducasse restaurants, and Damien Azemar, the restaurant’s Head Sommelier, the great French classics courteously share the cellar with the finest oenological discoveries of the moment.Lastly, the essential must be incarnated in the service having a profound understanding of hospitality, spiced by today’s rhytmn and energy. Frédéric Rouen, the Restaurant Manager, ads, “What is the most difficult after all is doing things simply, with just the right gesture and appropriate word.”