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L'Abeille & Sur Mesure – opinions?

k
kai.m Nov 2, 2012 01:30 PM

Hi,

I think about going to both – has anyone been there?
How do they compare to other french or european top-restaurants?

Iam very much into avantgarde cuisine, so Iam especially curious about Marx (though I doubt that he'll best the german or spanish or american avantgardists).

L'abeille seems to me like classic french cuisine in the best sense, from what I've read and seen

Thanks for sharing your experiences!

regards
k.

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  1. John Talbott RE: kai.m Nov 2, 2012 06:28 PM

    Only been to #2 July 09, 2011:
    Le Camelia de Thierry Marx in the 1st: Not as bad a meal as F.S. reported, but no fireworks from the Molecular Magician either.
    5.5 Le Camelia, 251 rue St-Honore (thus in the Mandarin Oriental) in the 1st, 01.70.98.73.33, open 7/7, is Thierry Marx's second place in this new hotel, the first being Sur Mesure, located in the same general space and running 145 E for 8 plates or 180 E for 12; there is also a lovely garden overflow and cocktail venue which looks very nice.
    From the first telephone call to our exit we were impressed by the staff; very welcoming and speaking the language they heard diners speak. At our table, including two chefs, Colette and myself, we were "outed" and visited almost immediately by three luminaries in the hotel, among whom was the best-known American-French concierge in Paris. Did that affect our impression(s)?; well, it sure changed the check downwards.
    Two of us started with the mackerel with sliced carrots (the mackerel was superb, the carrots "so what") and one of us had the pressed beef with foie gras served as a terrine which was fine.
    The mains were OK but hardly as dynamic as one expects from the darling of Generation "C", Omnivore and Le Fooding; from top to bottom, daurade japonaise, pigeon with a nice piece of foie gras, a lobster ravioli, and a calamari risotto. All serviceable, but frankly, as Francois Simon said this morning, in an article I only read after our meal, not terribly good.
    At this point, frankly (franchement Francois) I gave up and passed on dessert and champagne, both of which we were not charged for, as we were not for our coffees. But the others shared with me their St Honore (a mini-homage to the street we were on and the classic dessert), and the best of the three, the caramel/chocolate preparation. The third dessert was deemed by one of us as not having been freshly made.
    Our bill came to 163 E a couple, and as I said, that was for seven dishes and a bottle of wine per couple. If we had been charged as normal citizens, we're easily talking about 200-250 E a couple. For the price, we were surprised that no amuse bouche nor mignardises were offered.
    Problems: Unfortunately, while the senior staff, like the three who visited us, are seasoned professionals, the junior ones need more training so as to learn how to pour wine without spilling and/or dribbling, to promptly respond to diners when they seek service, in adding up the bill (we were overcharged on the wine but this was offset by all the freebies) and to walk on the "Clockwork Orange" (as F.S. calls the decor) wooden flooring in heels without sounding like tap-dancers. The deep pile rugs make it difficult for staff and patrons to move the chairs.
    Go? Not me again, but let's see if others have better experiences.

    1. p
      Ptipois RE: kai.m Nov 3, 2012 03:54 AM

      No experience of L'Abeille. From trusted friends, I haven't registered good experiences. A chef I know went to eat at La Bauhinia (the brasserie) and complained that the inside of his steak was cold. The steak was taken back to the kitchen, and when it was brought back, it had been cut horizontally into two layers and the layers grilled until stiff. Really gifted.

      There is a distinct difference between Sur Mesure and the brasserie attached - Le Camélia. At Sur Mesure you wonder where the food has gone. At Le Camélia things on your plate do look like food but you wonder where the tastes have gone.

      I would write that Sur Mesure was my worst meal of 2012 if I could possibly describe that thing as a meal.
      A thing that has two stars on it, mind you.

      1. k
        kai.m RE: kai.m Nov 3, 2012 04:09 AM

        Thanks John! Of course I have already studied your Blog extensively.

        Ptipois: Thanks for the opinion.
        But if I remember it correctly, you found Agapé Substance, which was one of the most fun meals ever for us, "extremely boring and lifeless". So if this is any indication, Sur Mesure will be one hell of a great meal... ;-)

        Anyway, Akrame, Septime and Gagnaire are booked in any case. Pretty skeptical about the latter, though...

        42 Replies
        1. re: kai.m
          n
          Nancy S. RE: kai.m Nov 3, 2012 06:29 AM

          You might also consider Passage 53 -- one of my favorites. For me, Akrame was mostly good -- but a few disappointing combinations and preparations. Passage 53, however, has always been a stellar experience. (As an aside, I also like Agape Substance.)

          1. re: Nancy S.
            p
            Ptipois RE: Nancy S. Nov 3, 2012 06:35 AM

            If avant-gardist refers to a style, you may also try L'Agapé Substance or, why not, Marx. After all I've eaten some "avant-gardist" food in Spain that tasted just as bad at what he does.

            But if avant-gardist means inventive and still focused on taste, I think Inaki Aizpitarte at Le Chateaubriand can't be beat. I'd also recommend Gilles Choukroun at MBC for truly inventive cooking without the help of any chemicals, solely based on talent.

            1. re: Ptipois
              k
              kai.m RE: Ptipois Nov 3, 2012 06:48 AM

              As I said above, Ptipois: We haven been to Substance already. It was amazing. I'll let you know how Marx went.

              I forgot: L'Agapé is booked as well.

              1. re: Ptipois
                John Talbott RE: Ptipois Nov 3, 2012 09:36 PM

                "Gilles Choukroun at MBC"
                Agreed, indeed I ate there with a very fetching lady one day.

                1. re: Ptipois
                  Rio Yeti RE: Ptipois Nov 7, 2012 04:05 AM

                  You seem to mean that the use of chemicals allows for great food even if the talent is not there... or that the "magic/fireworks" distract from the fact that the food is actually bad and the chef talentless...

                  Being pretty interested in modernist cooking in general, I tasted a few different places that serve food "with chemicals" (which are not more chemical than the stuff we use in traditional cooking, but that's another story). And one thing got perfectly clear pretty fast to me: the presence or lack of talent of the chef cannot hide behind new techniques.

                  A talented chef is a talented chef whether he cooks traditionally or with modern techniques.

                  (I'm pretty sure you agree with me, but I had to react to your last sentence that suggested otherwise and seemed to dismiss the great work some modernist chefs are doing)

                  1. re: Rio Yeti
                    p
                    Ptipois RE: Rio Yeti Nov 7, 2012 08:03 AM

                    Agreed on all points, but who are you replying to?

                    1. re: Ptipois
                      Rio Yeti RE: Ptipois Nov 7, 2012 10:00 AM

                      I was replying to you, or more specifically to your sentence "for truly inventive cooking without the help of any chemicals, solely based on talent."

                      I'm glad we agree though (not that I had any doubts).

                      1. re: Rio Yeti
                        p
                        Ptipois RE: Rio Yeti Nov 7, 2012 02:45 PM

                        Actually I was meaning exactly the opposite of what you thought. I was saying that chemicals like Texturas and all the associated gimmicks and pyrotechnics were not substitutes for talent. I'd even go as far as thinking that the strategic promotion of Spanish nouvelle cooking back in the early 00s led to the strange phenomenon of extremely able chefs suddenly producing a lot of inedible stuff in order to conform themselves to the "winning" molecular trend. Example: Pedro Subijana at Akelarre. The tasting menu I had there only started to come alive when the kitchen produced a small piece of stewed venison in red wine, a wonderful dish that proved to me that the chef could cook real food when he chose to.

                        I am not sure what "modernist cuisine" means, in the same way that I am very skeptical about the existence of anything that should deserve to be called "modernity". Likewise, I have a very blurry idea of what innovation in cooking should be, but I know what creativity tastes like when I see it on a plate, without Texturas, without gooey-rubbery-wobbly textures with dubious tastes, without the truly disgusting things I've been served here and there (and most lately at Sur Mesure) in the name of "innovative" cooking.

                        On the other hand, when a chef is able to blow my mind and tastebuds by associating natural ingredients, I call that creativity. Chefs like Gilles Choukroun, Josean Alija (Nerua at the Guggenheim, Bilbao), Inaki Aizpitarte and, yes, Ferran Adria are such chefs. Give one piece of milk-fed veal and one white asparagus to Inaki and he'll always be ten times as innovative as one Thierry Marx stuck somewhere in the late 90s with his goo, bubbles and foams.

                        1. re: Ptipois
                          Rio Yeti RE: Ptipois Nov 8, 2012 05:42 AM

                          "Modernist cuisine" is just the new word for "molecular", because "molecular" doesn't mean anything (when you're grilling a steak you also change its nature on a molecular level), and also because "molecular" has got a bad rap with all the foams, bubbles, spherifications etc... whereas "modernist" is supposed to encompass a broader range of techniques that are not necessarily there to be gimmicky (sous-vide, flavor extraction with a rotavapor etc.).

                          I fully agree with everything you said. I must however note that goo, bubbles and foams can also be good (only when it is good). I don't know about Marx but I ate for instance at "é" in Las Vegas, and some of the stuff was really gimmicky/foamy/gooey but it was also really good (went to the restaurant La Famille in Paris, and that was another story...).

                          1. re: Rio Yeti
                            p
                            Ptipois RE: Rio Yeti Nov 8, 2012 08:14 AM

                            There is nothing wrong with goo and foams and gels, and the like, in the hands of a truly good cook who knows how to use them cleverly. Like that Las Vegas restaurant you mentioned or Jean-Georges Klein at L'Arnsbourg. All it boils down to is taste, and that is clearly Marx's problem, molecular or not.

                            Adding a little dextrin here and there or soy milk to help a foam stand up longer is not even "modernist", these are simply little tricks that get amalgamated into the larger art of cooking as they have always been. In the same way that rolled-out puff pastry replaced phyllo-style layering once the properties of butter between microlayers of raw dough were discovered. Sous-vide cooking is more than a century old and low-temperature coagulation of proteins (i.e. the "perfect egg") has been practised at Japanese hot springs for centuries so I do not see any more pertinence for "modernist" as for "molecular" in kitchen vocabulary. Of course I am aware that some techniques like flavor extraction are really new. But it strikes me how "modernistic" some very old recipes can be. When I study pre-Nouvelle Cuisine French cooking (which is more forgotten than one imagines), or traditional English of Chinese cooking techniques, I find tastes, textures or methods that would be considered pure modernistic genius if some Spanish chef in his thirties were serving them. Lately at The Sportsman I was served bread sauce made according to an old recipe, and everybody could have believed it was a revolutionary concoction from a modernist chef.

                            1. re: Ptipois
                              k
                              kai.m RE: Ptipois Nov 8, 2012 09:00 AM

                              Wow, I have to say, all this ranting against Marx makes me extremely curious... even if it's gonna be terrible, it seems like it will be a "unique" experience... :-)

                              But at least I have found 2 very positive opinions: from G. Pudlowski and at qliweb.com, both not exactly proponents of "bad taste". And the dishes pictured on qliweb don't look very "molecular" to me...

                              Anyhow, I'll see.

                              1. re: kai.m
                                p
                                Ptipois RE: kai.m Nov 8, 2012 10:04 AM

                                As I wrote, Marx's problem is not molecular, it's a problem of taste. Molecular is a red herring in that case.

                                I would take Pudlowski's opinion with a grain of salt since he was most likely comped and never bites the hand that feeds him. That is what makes him unreliable unless he's reviewing a good old forgotten bistrot in faraway Eastern regions because that is the sort of food he really likes.

                                The other review is quite a different matter, I do not know who wrote it but unless - both at Le Camélia and at Sur Mesure - they decided to pull out the Super Special Tasteless Lunch just because it was me, I cannot take seriously any writing that associates 'Marx' and 'hedonistic'. So I suppose that might be yet another piece of premade chef shilling, not very different in nature from Pudlo's prose. Nothing surprising there, even Michelin lends itself to that sort of practice with big hotel chains (that is the only possible explanation for the two stars soon after the opening).

                                What I find admirable is how taste was sucked out of everything. It should seem rather easy with artificial concoctions from gels, gelatine and other wobbly-rubbery texture agents, but with fresh ingredients like langoustines or fresh Spring vegetables, that requires some sort of genius.
                                What I can praise is the sense of unity: the decor is just as yucky as the food is.

                              2. re: Ptipois
                                Rio Yeti RE: Ptipois Nov 8, 2012 09:32 AM

                                Yes we're on the same page.

                                "Modernist" is just a name someone chose and stuck with it, and frankly "modernism" in art is something that is modern for the sake of being modern, and that sounds pretty pejorative to me... but I still find it better than "molecular", especially since molecular is associated with a lot of bad stuff.

                                It's funny what you say about sous-vide (and other techniques) because I've recently had a conversation with friends, and was wondering why sous-vide is so little known in France, amongst the non-industry folks whereas in the USA everyone seems to know what it is (even though most people don't do it at home), so it is even stranger considering it isn't really that modern of a technique...

                                1. re: Rio Yeti
                                  p
                                  Ptipois RE: Rio Yeti Nov 8, 2012 10:10 AM

                                  Is that so? That is a bit strange. You mean that people in the US, outside of the professional cooking trade, are more familiar with the technique of sous-vide cooking than the French? I must say I have no clue. All I know is that, indeed, nobody thinks about it a lot in a non-professional context. It is first and foremost considered an industrial technique.

                                  1. re: Ptipois
                                    Rio Yeti RE: Ptipois Nov 8, 2012 10:23 AM

                                    Maybe I'm biased because I browse through a bunch of "specialized" forums and websites... but it seems to me that nobody raises an eyebrow when someone makes a sous-vide dish in Top Chef US... and although I don't watch the french version, I know people who do and who've never heard of sous-vide.

                                    But it may be a false impression on my part.

                2. re: kai.m
                  p
                  Ptipois RE: kai.m Nov 4, 2012 12:10 AM

                  Sorry I hadn't seen that post before posting my previous one.

                  Well at least at L'Agapé Substance they serve you things that actually taste like food. Akrame is rather similar to l'AS with a little less technical mastery and more life. What I am really curious about is the steak house Akrame recently opened right in front of his restaurant.

                  Septime on the other hand is full of life to the point of crudity. At times it is so sensuous that it could be x-rated. Some like to put it in the same category as the others but I strongly disagree, I think they are as different as night and day. The closest thing I can see to Septime is Hedone, in London.

                  I hope you'll enjoy Sur Mesure. I am looking forward to your report. But frankly, if you tell me that you had fun there, I will have to petition all dictionary publishers in the world to redefine the term entirely.

                  1. re: Ptipois
                    k
                    kai.m RE: Ptipois Nov 4, 2012 03:02 AM

                    Never heard of Gilles Choukroun at MBC before, thanks! (Even though the pictures in John's 2010 review don'tlook that "modern" to me at all).

                    Funny what you said about Sur mesure an the definition of fun, really (that's wat I thought when I read your comment on AS ;-) )
                    But to be honest, I don't hear many good things about SM from friends and colleagues – but their criticism is rather that Marx isn't modern *enough* anymore.

                    Anyway, we will visit Septime in the (late) evening after our lunch chez Marx. Seems like it will be quite a contrast programme...

                    Anyone been to L'Agapé under the new japanese chef, Toshitaka? (The place never seemed very well liked among writers).

                    And that new place from Antonin Bonnet, Le sergent recruteur? Seems intriguing, but pretty expensive...

                    1. re: kai.m
                      John Talbott RE: kai.m Nov 4, 2012 08:13 AM

                      "Seems intriguing, but pretty expensive..."
                      To me sounded not intriguing and outasight expensive.

                    2. re: Ptipois
                      n
                      Nancy S. RE: Ptipois Nov 4, 2012 06:41 AM

                      I think Septime and Hedone occupy opposite ends of the continuum, in terms of product, technique and atmosphere. I think Passage 53 is closer to Hedone. But I agree, I don't compare Septime to Akrame or Agape Substance. Perhaps I would compare Septime to Saturne.

                      1. re: Nancy S.
                        p
                        Ptipois RE: Nancy S. Nov 4, 2012 08:08 AM

                        Funny, I see quite a few common values shared by Hedone and Septime, among which a strong focus on produce quality (although it is not easy to equal Mikael Jonsson in that respect), a style that is more in the instinctive/emotional than in the cerebral/rational category, and a certain culture of rawness (by which I don't mean raw food). They are not similar, but to me they are in the same spiritual family and I would not say they occupy opposite ends of the continuum. In that family I would also locate Saturne and perhaps Le Galopin.

                        Definitely Akrame and Agape Substance belong in a different one. As does Kei. I can't say anything about Passage 53 since I haven't been there yet.

                        1. re: Ptipois
                          k
                          kobri RE: Ptipois Nov 7, 2012 04:20 AM

                          I have been to Sur Mesure this year, and, well, rather uninteresting and definitely not worth the money paid. I know Passage, MBC, AS, Akrame and Kei. I don't think that Akrame is similiar like Agape Substance, quite different cooking concept. But both very good and worth to spend time and money. The same is Kei restaurant, very good. I have heard a lot about L'Abeille, should be very good too, has also a very high rating by the professional gourmet critics. MBC is good, but not the level of Akrame and co..

                          1. re: kobri
                            k
                            kai.m RE: kobri Nov 9, 2012 01:37 PM

                            Thank you!
                            One other thing, to all: can you tell me about the appropriate clothes for
                            -Sur Mesure (lunch)
                            -Gagnaire (lunch)
                            -L'abeille (dinner)

                            Will jeans/shirt/jacket (and good shoes, of course) be sufficient? Or is a suit the way to go/would I feel underdressed without?

                            Serious question. (Here in germany there is no such thing as a dresscode anymore, even in the best places. In france this seems to be different?)

                            Thanks!

                            1. re: kai.m
                              p
                              Ptipois RE: kai.m Nov 9, 2012 03:31 PM

                              I think the situation in France is pretty much the same as Germany. Jacket and tie are required in a few haute cuisine places like Taillevent and Le Cinq but as a general rule dress code is a thing of the past.

                              1. re: Ptipois
                                PhilD RE: Ptipois Nov 9, 2012 04:13 PM

                                Agree - but isn't there a place between jeans and a suit that you are comfortable in. For me it isn't about a dress code, it is more about feeling comfortable when going out, I try to avoid over dressed or under dressed. I dress for myself but if my partner "frocks up" I tend to follow suit and dress accordingly (no frock). And so when we go to nice restaurants we enjoy dressing up.

                                1. re: PhilD
                                  k
                                  kai.m RE: PhilD Nov 10, 2012 02:09 AM

                                  PhilD: What is there between jeans&jacket and suit? I mean, the first is "half a suit" and the second is a "full suit".
                                  Anyway: for me, as a general rule, the difference is lunch and dinner - for dinner I rather dress up more than for lunch, even though there might be many bussiness people in a restaurant at lunch, who are wearing suits... (btw: Lassere and Le Meurice require "jackets")

                                  At Epicure (dinner) and adpa (lunch) I would have felt underdressed without a "complete" suit.

                                  L'Abeille puts "chic" as the dresscode on the website, which means "suit", I suppose.

                                  But especially Marx and Gagnaire are restaurants that I can't quite figure out, in that regard, especially at lunch: they serve "modern" food, but are the "modern" with regards to the dresscode as well?

                                  1. re: kai.m
                                    p
                                    Ptipois RE: kai.m Nov 10, 2012 03:04 AM

                                    I suppose a suit and tie would be good at Gagnaire. At Sur Mesure, you might want to match the décor and dress in torn-up dirty teatowels sewn together.

                                    1. re: Ptipois
                                      k
                                      kai.m RE: Ptipois Nov 10, 2012 03:23 AM

                                      "At Sur Mesure, you might want to match the décor and dress in torn-up dirty teatowels sewn together." – why did I know exactly that you would say that? ;-)

                                      Suit and *tie*?!? Well, they will have to provide me with one, I guess. Iam going to lunch with my girlfriend, not to a business meeting...

                                      Seems like dresscodes (as a requirement or unspoken) are still pretty much in place in parisian top-end-restaurants, after all...

                                      1. re: kai.m
                                        Rio Yeti RE: kai.m Nov 10, 2012 03:32 AM

                                        I went to Gagnaire for dinner, no tie... some people had them (and looked like businessmen) and some didn't (and looked like they were here to enjoy their meal)...

                                        Don't worry too much, seriously, if you wear just a jacket, you will be fine anywhere, nobody's watching you (that is if you don't plan to go to Costes restaurant), and in the very rare case where you will be underdressed, the restaurant will more than surely provide you with a jacket and/or tie...

                                        From my experience (which is rather small in high-end places), nobody really cares and everyone is there to make sure you feel welcome, tie or not, jacket or not, scruffy beard or not...

                                        1. re: Rio Yeti
                                          k
                                          kai.m RE: Rio Yeti Nov 10, 2012 03:41 AM

                                          Juts found this:
                                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/589232

                                          Seems like Jeans&Jacket will be just fine.

                                        2. re: kai.m
                                          p
                                          Ptipois RE: kai.m Nov 11, 2012 04:13 AM

                                          Sorry, I meant a jacket and tie. Not technically a suit, of course. As I told you before, aside from a few really uptight places, I don't believe in dress code in Paris.

                                      2. re: kai.m
                                        PhilD RE: kai.m Nov 10, 2012 08:40 AM

                                        The space between is the bit without jeans. Suits by definition match the trousers and jackets, the space between is often a coordinated mismatch". I wore a suit and tie to my office in Paris and never wore a suit for social meal - never have. "Chic probably means the opposite of a suit - it's shorthand for dressing well and knowing what well dressed is.

                                        Paris really has few obvious rules, but the problem is Parisians are stylish, a Parisian will wear a chic white linen outfit an look wonderful, I will look like I am wearing a white sheet. Best advice is leave a suit and tie at home, but understand jeans are only going to work in a top restaurant if you are a model or film star....! Dress well, feel comfortable, but recognise you are in the fashion capital of the world so standards are high and the locals don't need to try.

                                        1. re: PhilD
                                          k
                                          kai.m RE: PhilD Nov 10, 2012 09:01 AM

                                          "jeans are only going to work in a top restaurant if you are a model or film star....! "

                                          Sounds pretty cliché, but well, thats what I meant when I said "Seems like dresscodes (as a requirement or unspoken) are still pretty much in place in parisian top-end-restaurants, after all."...

                                          ...as opposed to, say, Scandinavia, Germany, Austria, most of Switzerland or Benelux (the latter beeing by far the best region in europe for great top-end-restaurants, imho, by the way).

                                          Anyway, I think I'll do as I feel on the given day.

                                          PS: not to start an off topic discussions, but parisians are nicely dressed, but not that stylish, compared to London, Copenhagen or Rome.

                                          1. re: kai.m
                                            PhilD RE: kai.m Nov 10, 2012 04:06 PM

                                            Totally agree it is always best to do as you feel on the day. That said understanding the context is useful. I tend to think when the term "dress code is mentioned there is an expectation of a set of rules. Very, very few Paris restaurants have rules these days, thus the "dress code" tends to flow from the style of the restaurant. And whilst my "Jeans" comment may seem a cliché, it is a city where clichés sort of originate.

                                            I find Europe/Paris pretty easy to get restaurant dress right (and I wear jeans to many). Always good to bear in mind that Paris does the grand, formal restaurant experience very well, and that can drive a certain style.

                                            Hope to get to Copenhagen soon....is it true I need to wear jeans and a Faroese jumper to fit in?

                                            1. re: kai.m
                                              mangeur RE: kai.m Nov 10, 2012 04:39 PM

                                              What we need to acknowledge are the differences among code, fashion and style. As most previous posts and threads attest, there are but a few restaurants in Paris that enforce a code, usually only tie and or jacket. Paris is known for its fashion houses that dress the world. But more difficult to codify is the French concept of style. Never in or never out, always personal, sometimes avant garde, sometimes retro to the point of being archaic, most often, "damn, why didn't I think of that!" Be your most confident self and you'll be okay in any room.

                                              For men, dress quietly. Leave Tommy Bahama at home and you can sneak in in your (good, dark) jeans.

                                              1. re: kai.m
                                                p
                                                Ptipois RE: kai.m Nov 11, 2012 04:28 AM

                                                I see jeans all over restaurants in Paris, from top to bottom, and not particularly on film stars. Anyway girls in PR, com and advertising wear nothing but that and they dine in all sorts of restaurants.

                                                1. re: Ptipois
                                                  John Talbott RE: Ptipois Nov 11, 2012 09:16 AM

                                                  "girls in PR, com and advertising"
                                                  Somehow I miss that demographic, alas!

                                                  1. re: John Talbott
                                                    p
                                                    Ptipois RE: John Talbott Nov 11, 2012 09:43 AM

                                                    They were brought up because they make up a good part of the ladies-who-lunch crowd. With their male counterparts too, who are less frequently jeans-clad.

                                                  2. re: Ptipois
                                                    John Talbott RE: Ptipois Nov 11, 2012 01:21 PM

                                                    OK, Pti and all my friends, frenemies and suchlike, I have decided to write "the" definitive essay on French restaurant dressing since my family departed Normandy in 1099, soon to come back of course; I know there were no restos then, but I did it and it will be in your local theaters soon, given the back-log of essays that I just looked at, maybe a month. Can you wait?

                                                    1. re: Ptipois
                                                      PhilD RE: Ptipois Nov 11, 2012 02:06 PM

                                                      ....i must check my agency bills more carefully if they are dining in 3 stars all the time...!

                                          2. re: kai.m
                                            John Talbott RE: kai.m Nov 10, 2012 08:22 AM

                                            Can you pull off black jeans, a black leather jacket and a black tee and have a thin body? - go for it.
                                            Today at lunch in a fancy Milan resto, Italy being the only European country other than Romania where people wear ties, I was alone so dressed cuz I'd just got off the plane.

                                    2. re: Ptipois
                                      k
                                      kai.m RE: Ptipois Nov 14, 2012 10:28 AM

                                      So, Sur Mesure: to make it short, it was not as bad as I feared and not as good as I hoped. A Soufflé of Sainte Maure was really good, very delicate. The Sweet Bento Box was very good too, interesting and strong flavors (yes!). But the rest, well, "interesting" would be the best way to describe it. Especially the amuses (which count as a course, strange enough) were totally without taste, as you said Ptipois. Though we didn't have much goo or something. Mind you, we only had the (rather limited) lunch menu, so maybe the full tasting is a better experience.

                                      But our lunch menu at Pierre Gagnaire wasn't a big revelation either. The amuses lacked as much flavor as the ones from Marx. The main course (cochon fermier) was kind of good, but rather ordinary in taste and looked like a Brasserie-dish. The fish dish (moule boulot) was truly amazing, though. The desserts were good, but not as good, tasty and "daring" as what you get in many, many belgium or german top-end restaurants. Service was okay, they lost a bit of that clichéd french arrogance with time.

                                      Having eaten at many famous 3-star-restaurants in france now (from Arnsbourg to Auberge d'Ill), I must say that most of them can't stand the comparison to most in Benelux or Germany. If you go to "smaller" places like Septime, though, there is no match for that in other countrys - I envy parisians for the huge number of places like that.

                                      1. re: kai.m
                                        k
                                        kai.m RE: kai.m Nov 21, 2012 01:32 AM

                                        Oh, and: according to the restaurant itself (I asked before I went), "The dresscode at Pierre Gagnaire's restaurant is casual chic; a jacket and dark jeans are fine."

                                        At the very formal L'Abeille I would have felt rather underdressed in that attire. Even though some japanese pop stars at the other table were dressed "casual stylish".

                                        Anyway, the food at L'Abeille was fantastic (except for the all-to-conventional desserts, were france is surprisingly "behind"). Classical in style, but very intense, tasty and perfectly executed. I would love to go back there any time. But then I'd go for a la carte, since they have those wonderful dishes that are served in 2 sequences.

                                        Greetings
                                        k.

                                  2. souphie RE: kai.m Jan 2, 2014 04:53 PM

                                    Just back from l'Abeille and it was weird, with a mix of very highs and very low. The setting is quite weird, with a mix of private-feeling and monumental spaces, marble and paper towels. The restaurant itself overlooks a garden that is new and quite nice, with a ceiling that is lowere than the door-windows. From the entrance you walk down to the restaurant, which feels like a basement despite his windows. Thick carpet but cold ambience.

                                    Weird also the service team -- most of them young and enthusiastic, but without the feeling that there is a team. They were nice and available, but it feels like they're still at practice, compared to standards like Meurice, Taillevent, le Cinq or even Savoy.

                                    We ate à la carte and some stuff was sublime -- scallops, scampis, lobster were pitch perfect, though the scampi had a useless (if delicious) citrus sauce that did not add anything to the pristine ingredient/perfect steam cooking/energic but perfect seasoning. The lobster claws came with goat cheese and that turned out brillant. The pintade en deux service was quite superb, the breast with trompette mushrooms, the thigh with soba noodles.

                                    And then there were strange mishaps: an amuse in which white chocolate felt like solidified fat in a cold stock; frog legs that were overcooked and soggy and bland; oyster and sweetbread fritters with too much dough and no balance between the ingredients; a beef in dashi in which the beef played no real role; a mushroom and cream side that was like from a can: too sour, not salty enough, dispensible ; a few disapointing desserts (esp. the millefeuille, a light creme without much vanilla between at most six feuilles of biscuit and no puff pastry, served with a strangely unsweet caramel icecream).

                                    Beef in four services was a fun idea, basically a beef menu with some high end, well aged beefs prepared in different ways. Wonderful tartare de charolais, all about a perfect ingredient, melty and fatty but without a fatty touch in mouth. The aforemontioned pointless dashi with black angus slices; a delicious bourguignon-ish prep that was in weird contrast to how sophisticated everything else was. And finally a rib eye steak (Galice beef) that was awesome but seriously, at that point, why no fries? (and why those meh mushrooms).

                                    There were two really good desserts out of five: clementine and apple. Clearly not in the same league, that said, as our entrees, that were the highlights of the meal.

                                    The wine list is very palace-y. You'll be suprised to learn that Dom Perignom is awesome and Meursault Charmes cuvée Shangri-La also.

                                    It was quite the pleasant experience, took four and a half hour, but I'm left wondering who this is for. Between the functional feeling of the dining room, the tiny portions, the high prices, the playful but not really playing service, what is the occasion this restaurant is for? It's very civilised, balanced,with some wonderful food, and yet there is no wow.

                                    Weird, I tell you, weird. In a good way.

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