Dinner at Guy Savoy
Had not planned on writing about our dinner at Guy Savoy, but writing about Ledoyen made me reconsider, although I don't really like being negative. Don't misunderstand me, the dinner was lovely, but everything was simply too "smooth"for our taste, like a well oiled machinery that felt unpersonal in a strange way. It feels odd to write this, because everyone was extremely nice and Guy Savoy himself checked on us 3 times. Don't know how to explain the feeling, maybe someone else who have been there have felt the same way?
We had the "Colours, Textures and Savours" menu (360Euros p.p.). The food was very good, but only two dishes out of 12 stood out, The truffle and artichocke soup, and a small complimetary lentil dish with truffles. Both were excellent and memorable, as were the wines (gave the sommelier a budget of 400Euros, most of it went to an excellent Mersault). Except for these two dishes, the food was beautiful and tasted good, but lacked that creativity one is entitled to expect in a meal as expensive as this. The feeling of well oiled machinery, again.
All in all, it was a pleasant evening, but not the memorable experience we hoped for. We will of course never forget some of the rater quirky stuff they do, like having a special kind of bread with each course, and the obsession with the serving temperature of the water. But I don't think we will pay 1200 Euros for it again.
Before you launch into the post proper, an “authors note”: I wrote this before I read MrsQuesne’s review and haven’t changed a word of it since. I was simply looking for the most relevant thread under which to post my own efforts. You’ll see why I was struck by what had been posted before!
Dinner at Guy Savoy
My girlfriend and I ate there on Saturday night. On the principle of “in for a penny, in for a thousand Euros…” we had the full on tasting menu: the thick end of a dozen courses of “tastes, textures, colours…” etc.
And, overall, it was a disappointment.
Not that there weren’t flashes of brilliance: a sensational lobster dish with a brunoise of beetroot; a knock-out quenelle of chocolate mousse as one of the “freebie” desserts that littered our table whilst waiting for the cab; and using a braised carrot to segue between the savoury courses and the sweet was, I thought, a smart and surprising idea. And all of it was of a decent standard…but?
Few of the dishes actually sang.
The opener was an oyster that had been shelled, its juices used to make a jelly, an oyster butter added and the whole assemblage reconstituted in a glass shell. The result was an oyster that tasted very much of oyster. What was the point? Later, fois gras was grilled on the plancha and then steamed in a bag with radishes to infuse the aroma. I’m sorry, but you’ve got to work bloody hard to make steamed radishes taste of anything much, let alone infuse this essence into something else and this duly failed; all it did was make the fois gras watery. As textures go, not a great one, as flavours go, they had went.
This sense of missing the flavour was a bit of a theme – the vanilla sauce which accompanied the sea bass had been spiked (we were told) with ginger and coriander. We had to be told, because there would have been no other earthly way of knowing it. The lamb was also so delicate as to be underwhelming.
But over and beyond that, there was a sense that this was less about a gallery of “tastes, textures and colours…” and more of the whole thing as an exercise in painting by numbers. Perhaps it was August, so there was a high preponderance of tourists, but the whole thing had a bit of a production line feel about it. Once again, don’t get me wrong: (a) full marks to Guy Savoy for actually being open in August! and (b) we had excellent service from our waiter, even down to noting early that Jo is left handed and thereafter laying the place accordingly.
Even so, it felt too much like an exercise in “have the Paris 3* experience”: get the grand menu degustation (oysters, tick; lobster, tick; fois gras, tick; caviar, tick…); be pointed in the expectedly classical areas on the wine list (Bordeaux…burgundy…what was the point of having all those other pages except to add the requisite thickness to the tome?). All well-oiled and charming machine going through the motions of delivering excellence but with the soul taken out of both the cooking and the dining.
Compare one element of Guy Savoy’s lamb dish with that at Marcus Wareing back here in London. Both served loin of lamb – a prime cut which lends itself to precise cooking but capable of being a bit one-dimensional. So both sought to compensate for this with another element. At Savoy this was a strip of “confit of shoulder” which turned out to be somewhat dry and fibrous. At Wareings it was a small portion of the breast of lamb, providing crunch followed by a richness of the fatty lamb breast to compensate for the leanness of the loin. With the same intent, Wareing’s was the more thoughtful choice and far better executed. When you add in the fact that the basic lamb loin was more flavoursome as well, arriviste Marcus was really wiping the floor with his ex-boss’s Parisian mentor and then running round the field with the trophy afterwards.
In fact throughout, Wareing’s tasting menu was more thoughtful, more creative more diverse. Ditto the Ledbury. And when you could have both for the same cost as Guy Savoy and still walk away with change…well, nuff said.
We had lunch at Guy Savoy a couple of years back and thought it was excellent. We were a group of eight and were given the private room across the street from the mian restaurant. What I loved about Guy Savoy was maybe the same as you are "complaining" about. I was amazed at the "simplicity" and how straight-forward many of the dishes seemed, but they were all perfect. In addition, service was wonderful. I gues that if very visible creavity and lots of color and flash is what you want then Guy Savoy is not the place the go. I suspect that there are other 3* restaurants in Paris that I would want to try before going back to Guy Savoy, but for what it is, I thought it was excellent.
I'm not looking for the visible creativity when dining. Both stand-out dishes were actually rather grey&simple looking, but had great and complex flavours.
Regarding the "Colours&Textures" part of the menu's promise, I have no complaints. It's the "Savours" part I felt could be better.
Perhaps 'smooth' service is another way of saying polished . While the service was very polished there was much engagement with my table and others noticed. While many top restaurants in states seem too 'corporate' for me, Savoy did not, everything was executed flawlessly but with their impetus on the guests having a good time.
.....nope, didn't feel that way at all. Felt like the staff cared a great deal about us and wanted to make sure we were having a stellar time.
Yes his food is quite pristine - not a lot of "surprises," but in my opinion their execution is spot on and their service perhaps the best I've experienced - at least on par with Le Cinq and Gagnaire over in Paris or any of Per Se/The French Laundry stateside.
It's been two yeas since I had dinner at Le Cinq, but I can honestly say that I have not been anywhere that comes close to their wonderful service. (Only place that comes to mind is Akelarre in San Sebastian) At Le Cinq they made us feel special from the moment we walked in the lobby. But if the food is special, I don't need that kind of service to be happy.