Regis Marcon (near Hermitage, France) – The Mushroom King
We ate at Regis Marcon during the Burgundy portion of the trip but it’s taken me a bit longer to write this review.Close to Hermitage/Tournon, across the mountain, lies an empire run by a man obsessed with mushrooms. The windy roads leading to the restaurant are covered in damp forest, overcast, and some periods of intense earthy smell. Upon arriving into the small hilltop town, one sees the name “Regis Marcon” and his mushroom icon on everything – the hotel, the butcher, the patisserie, and probably more. Where other chefs might like to golf or sail in their spare time, Regis Marcon loves to hunt for mushrooms.
The hotel interior is quite striking – modern architecture gives way to country touches. The corridor to the rooms is dark with aggressive modern painting lining the walls. The room was full of odd angles and matte colors contrasting with amber wood and the striking view.
Upon dinner, we were driven 2-3 blocks to the restaurant.
The restaurant interior is rather striking – the modernity of the hotel rooms is amplified, but still calmed w/ the amber wood touches. All tables look out into the countryside where the grass is lit at night to give it a slightly fluorescent look. The tables are large and spaced comfortably as most are in French 3*** restaurants.
(Note: my tasting notes were lost so i’m going from memory. It’s really too bad because some of the flavors were rather complex and I may not capture some nuances; likewise, I know I’m forgetting some of the important ingredients.)
Two tasting menus were offered and we choose the Spring Menu (~6 courses for 150 euros.)
They served us a few amuses (lost notes) but none were particularly impressive. We had slightly worried looks as the amuses should set the tone of the meal. Good.
2. Langostine served atop Bed of Mushrooms
The langostine was slightly overcooked, just a tad mushy, but it was plump and full of flavor. The mushrooms underneath (various sorts) had the right amount of bite – they were delicious. The herb-infused, creamy, mushroom broth was very refined and satisfying. Very Good.
3. Asparagus w/ Morels, Mushroom Sauce, & Porcini Dust
The asparagus were some of the better examples we’ve had on the trip, but the morels… the best. They were as plump as those at L’Astrance but they were bursting with even more flavor. There was also not a grit of sand to be found. The sauce was divine – it had an *intense* mushroom flavor. All of the individual ingredients were perfect, but combine them all together w/ that sauce and you get a vegetable dish that would hold its own against L’Arpege. Excellent.
4. Lobster w/ Morels in Potato Mousse
The lobster was perfectly cooked, sweet and juicy; the morels excellent; and the potato mousse (for lack of a better word) was creamy but light. Excellent.
5. Mushroom Consumme
A simple glass of mushroom consumme infused with an herb. This was marvelous – the taste rolled on your tongue, building in intensity with the mushroom essence, and then slowly disintegrated leaving the herb flavor. Excellent.
6. Lamb w/ Porcini Crust, Sweetbreads, “Ball of Lamb” & Assorted Vegetables
The final meat dish and, unfortunately, it didn’t live up to the greatness of the earlier courses. The lamb was cooked fine but it lacked the flavor of the Paulliac lamb at Lameloise a few days earlier. The crust was a bit too sweet. It’s worth mentioning the baby carrot in this dish was phenomenol – soft on the outside, slightly sweet, and bursting with carrot flavor in the middle. Good.
7. Fromage Blanc Ice Cream
A miscommunication landed us with an ice cream cheese course, instead of a regular cheese course. The ice cream was creamy, the cheese taste had that slight tang, but I’ve had better examples. Very Good.
8. The Endless Parade of Desserts
Here are some of the desserts we had. Photographs of 2-3 others are missing. None were spectacular but the first picture was interesting – bananas, caramel, candied morels, and some other mushroom flavoring. All Good to Very Good.
Overall – if you love mushrooms, this is a must visit. This meal was probably our 3rd best meal of the trip – it was focused and refined. Most of the ingredients were of a higher quality. The cooking was also more consistent than most other restaurants – the veggies & meats were mostly cooked perfectly; and, if not, near perfect.
Leave Paris around noon, arrive by 6pm, and wait 2 hours for mushroom madness. This is destination dining.