Archive for September, 2008

Ledoyen (Paris, France) – Regality is not without Faults

My first Ledoyen meal was one of those rare magical moments, even in the rarified circles of Michelin three-star restaurants, where a series of dishes leaves one speechless. The food was the definition of refinement – “soft-spoken but all-commanding” as I said in my last review. Chef Chrisitan Le Squer reminded me of a tempered Pierre Gagnaire with his application of modern techniques in an “organic” fashion 1; however, instead of Gagnaire’s intensity and fireworks, he preferred subtlety and calm.

Despite cooking in a modern fashion, no real 2 tasting menus are offered. In fact, this cuisine is the antithesis of the “less is more” philosophy; his portion sizes are absolutely old-fashioned – they are very large – large enough for a Julot to enjoy 3. Restraint should be exercised during the ordering process, else the appetite will be absolutely defeated. While the waiters speak English, they did not dissuade me from ordering four dishes, and possibly encouraged it. At the least, that is one too many; and probably two too many for most people. Come hungry and order conservatively.

Langoustine & Seaweed Lollipop

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Fat Duck (Bray, England) – Redux

It has nearly become myth – a (slightly) mad scientist, tucked away in a tiny hamlet, experimenting relentlessly, trying to create one of the world’s best restaurants. The Fat Duck left a memorable impression after a month of eating in the original 47 Michelin Stars in 24 Days trip. It held its own against experimental stalwarts such as Pierre Gagnaire (Paris), El Bulli (Roses, Spain), and Mugaritz (San Sebastian, Spain); and provided the experience most becoming of a three-star restaurant over the course of that (crazy, never to be repeated) month. My review, indicative of my experience at the time, basically read “good meal”, although I knew there were elements of the meal that had glossed over me. My meal last month left me with more questions than answers.

Fat Duck sign
It wasn’t really this dark outside

The food tasted fine, not quite living up to the memories 1; but, I walked away feeling unsure about the whole experience. There are fascinating possibilities in the food, and while some are obvious, much of the meal is slightly obtuse, its ultimate enjoyment buried underneath sophisticated techniques and ideas, that may only be known to the chef himself. One gets the feeling s/he is on the verge of discoveries, as there are clues scattered everywhere, but they never quite fully materialize.

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