Troisgros is perhaps the most complete restaurant on the planet. The food is good to brilliant, not fussy, foamy or molecular but takes the highest quality ingredients and presents them thoughtfully with balance, coaxing out the true flavours of the food. Sauces are fruit based, rely on acidity to counterbalance richness and are quite light yet intense. The service is faultless, not intrusive or even noticeable (I guess it must be noticeable otherwise I wouldn’t be commenting on it) but incredibly well drilled, timed and measured. The wine list is brilliant, possessing a great selection of the top name Burgundies with quite sensible mark-ups.
We hit the garden area on a balmy, humid spring evening for a glass of the house Champagne (Duval-Leroy) and a plate of various amuse bouche. There was a wafer thin slice of calamari on a biscuit made from its ink that married beautifully with the mineral and creaminess of the champagne. A fried morsel of semolina with orange blossom oil was lively and the citrus notes of the Champagne came to the fore and a simple cheese biscuit adorned with watermelon was delicious. Cherry tomato lacquered with a sweet paint and sprinkled with sesame seeds literally exploded in our mouths and it was time to head inside to the main dining room and attack the degustation menu proper.
When you find Coche-Dury Corton-Charlemagne at well under retail price it is your duty as a Burg lover to annex it from the list. The 2001 is in a marvellous place right now but still extraordinarily youthful. There’s the usual Coche gunflint on the nose as well as preserved lemons, freshly churned butter, citrus blossom and minerals. In the mouth it is so direct and focussed with the most rigid of minerally spines and great drive. It is rich but not heavy and has a wonderful length. The 1988 Meo-Camuzet Vosne-Romanee ‘Aux Brulees’ was selected as our red. I suspect this was made by the late, great Henri Jayer and it was incredible. There was a little meat and musk to the aroma. The palate was spun from the most silky, vinous thread and there was a big burst of ripe raspberries once the wine breathed. It still has plenty of structure and was quite direct and linear on the finish, leaving a wonderfully spicy calling card once swallowed.
Razor clams in green apple and basil jelly was incredibly refreshing, with a nice chalky lightly astringent finish from the apple. This was followed by Mackerel croustillant inspired by Venice. The current menu has a little bit of an Italian bent so Michel Troisgros must have spent a bit of recent time there, in fact he may still be in Italy as this was the first time in four visits that we could not spy him in the kitchen. The Mackerel however was very good, it lay on some pickled onions, endive and capers and had some grainy mustard with the sauce. Next were three lightly warmed oysters wearing a cummerbund of sorrel draped in a cumin infused sauce. There was a really nice contrast between iodine brininess of oyster and sharpness of the sorrel.
The first three courses were just ok with the Coche, the next three heavenly. Plin pasta (a type of ravioli), housed some mascarpone and was conspicuous with its big slice of black truffle on top. The package burst in the mouth, causing a torrent of creamy, fungal loveliness to crash around one’s gums resulting in an immediate smile on the face of anyone who encounters it. Rouget barbet was painted a third in tomato/pimento sauce, a third was emulsified lemon and a third watercress puree. The fish was perfect and lay in a pool of delicious beurre blanc. The final dish before the meat course was ‘Ecrevisse a la verveine et aux petits pois’. Yabbies were presented with peas and a shellfish reduction poured over the top. The verbena kept the dish in check with its lemony notes and the whole dish was beautifully balanced.
Lamb with mint and artichoke was simple but simply outstanding. The lamb was so subtle, tender and milky it could have been veal. A lovely light, glistening jus was indeed mouth-wateringly good. We wedged a couple of the regions finest cheeses in before desserts including an evil looking tower of goat’s cheese scariness (not the cheese’s real name, just something I made up).
‘Etoiles de coco a la fraise’ was cute coconut dumplings with some whipped crème fraise inside, accompanied by some gorgeous new season strawberries. It was a fine dessert but the finale was even better. A small tart of grapefruit showed nice contrast of tartness from the fruit and sweetness from the pastry. It was served with celery jelly and curry ice cream, sounds weird, it was weird but it tasted oh so good and was a lovely refreshing way to finish a most splendid meal.
Troigros was a wonderful memory for me. The cheese course was as good as any encountered. My former wife and l went for lunch on a miserable cool rainy day. We had a great time and as we were going to settle up, looked at the teeming rain outside, said screw it, ordered a bottle of Vin Paille, sat a few more hours in the greenhouse and made a beautiful memory.
Troigros is a wonderful memory for me as well, from when I first went there in 1974 (and subsequently) when both Jean and Pierre were at the top of their game.
The wonderful description (along with all the other wonderful ones in the last few days) that Jeremy gave show that things have really changed. "Plin pasta" (sic) at Troisgros? Is that great regional French cooking? Ravioli del plin should be eaten at the source, ideally at Da Renzo in Cervere or at Il Centro in Priocca or at Cascinalenuovo in Isola d'Asti, in late October or early November with white truffles shaved on the ravioli and a great Barolo or Barbaresco on the table (most ravioli del plin are stuffed with meat).