La Dame de Pic
I'd be interested to know if anyone has been to Anne-Sophie Pic's new restaurant in Paris. If so, any sense of how it compares with Valence? All details appreciated. Thanks a lot
October 31, 2012
LaDamedePic in the 1st: Spots of brilliance in a sea of ordinary.
5.5 LaDamedePic aka La Dame de Pic, 20 rue du Louvre in the 1st, 01.42.60.40.40, closed Sundays (Metro: Louvre-Rivoli) is "the" restaurant of the rentree, garnering rave reviews, so even at menus of 49-120 E I had to see for myself; silly me! The outside is cool grey - the ultimate understated fascade; the interior cooly red and white with Baccarat water glasses, her own knives and beautiful nappery; and there are perfumed-scented strips for the three pricy "menus" - vanilla, fish and flowers and sous-bois epices.
Carrying out the pretentious theme are two of her own prepared butters with wonderful split rolls; but then wines offered that actually don't break the bank (27 E); however the cheapest of the 4 forced choice menus is hardly a bargain at 49 E.
Two of us had el cheapo dejeuner - ha ha - and J. the iode & fleurs. Thus he started out with two dishes: shucked oysters in a bed of cauliflower soup and jasmine and sardines with wonderfully marinated leeks and green fluff and we had what was called a pumpkin soup but was congealed such floated on a bed of what my chef-friend called pannacotta/custard with bits of coffee grains on top - all three of us agreed it was the winner.
Then the high-roller among us had a farm chicken breast with spinach leaves and orange "flowers" and the two 47% moochers had the supions with - what? - gnocchi - well, it almost worked.
Finally the big spender had a Poire Williams and violet/licorice fluff and we slackers the myrtilles encased in a shell with a wafer of pure sugar on top and green tea stuff underneath.
With two coffees, one glass of white wine and 1.5 bottles of red, no bottled water and really ordinary mignardises our bill was a staggering 267 E. However, to be fair, if one ordered two dejeuner "menus", one bottle of wine and two coffees the bill could come to just 134 E.
So John how did you get to 5.5? Simple.
8.0 Nappery, glasses, knives
6.0 Wine price-quality ratio
1.0 Noise level
1.0 Food price-quality ratio
= 5.3 rounded up to 5.5 - you do the math, works for me.
Go? My friend the free-wheeler said, "Ordinary food, that's all;" so Colette will not be visiting later on.
i had lunch at La Dame de Pic on Oct 18th. I have never been to her place in Valence so i cannot compare. had the 49 euro prix fixe menu. total bill for 2 menus, 2 coupe champagne and 2 coffees was 144 euro.
• LE VELOUTE DE POTIRON
orange, café, cardamome verte
gnocchis aux épices douces,
grenobloise fève tonka
au thé Matcha
Its not easy to reach them (and they apologetically tell you they know it). a friend booked by email and it took 2 wks to get a response. i called a dozed times and reached someone between lunch and dinner hours.
they set down 2 butters: 1 laced with anise which was hard to stop smearing on the mulitgrain toast points. the other had macha and was dark green and pretty much just tasted like butter. which isn't bad just probably not worth the effort on their part.
starter: pumpkin veloute. there was a layer of pumpkin puree with a lovely balance of all the spices they promised: orange, cafe and most predominately cardamom. hidden underneath the orange layer was a white creamy layer. it was more like a custard than a soup. very rich. very good and the amount of work that went into it was extraordinary. but didn't knock my socks off.
main: my socks were knocked off by the main course. what a bizarre combination of ingredients. but it really worked for me. it was stunningly delicious. squid and gnocci and capers and something called feve tonka . i don't even like capers but the balance of flavors and textures was memorable.
dessert arrived in the form of one of those models of the galaxy. an inch high disc of pistachio & matcha flavored cake (consistency like a financier) whose green color was deliberately and beautifully gradiated. topped with a dome (the size of a large egg yolk)-and the color of frosted purple nail polish with a round flat disc of clear spun sugar. the purple frosted dome-thing turned out to be a cleverly designed gelatin-skin for THE most amazing blueberry sauce/syrup. which became the perfect foil for the cake which although it was cooked to perfection, i'm just not a fan of pistachio, but the cake texture with the blueberry sauce was divine.
along with the dessert they delivered madeline and a nutty sandwich cookie with gushy chocolate in the middle. the madeleine was laced with lemon and freshly baked but otherwise ordinary. the cookie, however was amazing. i'm trying to get up the guts to ask for the recipe.
atmosphere: modern, serious, comfortable, well-lighted, semi-open kitchen. its not a place i would bring a large rowdy group.
the knives are engraved with her name. i'm no reviewer but i'd guess that she's angling for a michelin star.
its one of these places with too many paid workers. practically a 1 paid staff to 3 patron ratio. they were very nice and professional.
i found odd was that in addition to their daily 49 euro menu (which is an incredible value) they offered some other menus based upon scents. Yes, scents. We were given 3 samples--just like those little cardboard perfume samples. and very descriptive menus inspired by the scents.
Iode/Fleur (which just smelled like every single spa product you've ever used). Vanille/Ambre smelled like it sounds: spicy vanilla and Sousbois/Epice--like it sounds. The pride and attention with which they prepared my meal i'm sure is extended to those pricier scent-inspired menus. But, frankly with the small print menus, the samples and 3 of them to read through--its too much work. A lovely idea, but i really wonder how much success they will have with it. If i ruled the restaurant they would only offer one choice of these scent-inspired menus.
i'd love to go back. but i'll wait until i've got the money to splurge and when getting a reservation is easier.
As a counter-balance, and since Adrian, the most famous Anglo-French concierge in Paris will not blow his own horn here, here is his point of view:
Thursday, October 25, 2012
Anne Sophie, ca pique
La Dame du Pic is one of the hardest tables to book in Paris right now. The modern space, just steps from the Louvre is all transparent, all white and carpeted. Staffed by good looking youngsters from the maison mere(s) in Valence and Lausanne as well as from locals who trained at Parisian establishments, it looks good. The dining crowd is chic, and many oohs and ahhs emanated from the neighboring tables. Poor misled, misinformed souls looking for a the foodie nirvana, when what is really on offer is the most dastardly of gastronomic honey (money?) pots, all thick carpeted design, music curated toilets, cute chefs slaving over spotless high-tech ceramic grills costing more than a high end sports car. The restaurant is expensive with tasting menus (without drinks) from 79-120€. I could have cut them a bit of slack if it had the least bit of merit, but .....
The amuse bouche was, get this, two pats of Anne Sophie Pic infused butter with triangles of toast. I thought bread and butter was just that, but I guess they've solved that problem.
I knew I should have run for the hills when the menus came out accompanied, to great fanfare, by perfumed strips designed to "prepare" you for what you were about to eat. It reminded me more of visits to Sephora than anything else. Where do these gimmicks come from?
The starter of Gillardeau no.3 oysters and cauliflower cream with jasmine was strange. Oysters are all about temperature. They're either cold (i.e. chilled and fresh from the catch) or they're not (poached, etc). These were somewhere in between, and served on a dish so hot it burnt my fingers. The accompanying cauliflower was tasteless and the jasmine, never tasted it.
The next dish, arguably the best of the evening, was Mediterranean sardines with a matcha tea and leek sauce. The sauce would have been a perfectly delicious flavor partner with the delicious, little fishes if it wasn't far too salty (a reoccurring theme throughout the evening).
The next dish, farm raised chicken with razor clams, spinach and fleur d'oranger was perfectly fine, great produce, well done but.....boring as fuck. Not what you want when you're paying upwards of 100€ a head in a superstar chef satellite.
The cheese dish (12€ supplement!) was a trilogy of three Savoy cheeses, accompanied by beer, rosemary and honey jellies whose main function seemed to mask or transform the cheese's flavor , which was fine just by itself.
Apart from the problems with the menu, the simple fact that we seemed to turn invisible to the waitstaff (30 minute wait for menu, interminable waits for everything from wine to food), wine never at correct temperature, bread never replenished , and just the stupid concept of it all, everything was just perfect.
I left the restaurant shaking my head, incredulous that this kind of bloated, expensive concept establishment can still exist in modern Paris, a town where you can eat SO well, for so little lately. Guess this one is for the tourists, or, in the words of a food writer friend as "such a butt ass restaurant, one of those new Paris places where there's a total absence of desire to please the customer either with service or food...and the prices blow big bubbles"
One thing that scares me is that there have actually been mostly decent reviews of the place. French critics, you should be ashamed of yourselves for elevating a soulless, frustrating, expensive, confused establishment instead of burning it to the ground as it deserves.
The dish that might have, but, like the rest, sadly didn't: Mediterranean sardines, leek and green match tea sauce
The place is evidently there in prevision of La Samaritaine reopening as a luxury hotel-shopping mall-etc.; though now I am not sure it will make it that far.
Funny to hear AS Pic not mentioning La Samar at all when asked about her reasons to locate in that very neighborhood.
I don't think I've ever been so uncurious about a chef as I am about Anne-Sophie Pic.
The individual who started this thread, I finally went to La Dame de Pic last week with my wife and three other couples, all French or long-time French residents and all (he wrote modestly) sophisticated palates. When I compare our experience to what's generally described here, I wonder if we went to the same restaurant. Yes, it's well-lit, modern, lovely, with an open kitchen, and yes there are those somewhat strange butters to start you off, but the whole is not at all pretentious and, if anything, underpriced for the sheer quality of the cooking.
Perhaps I say underpriced because we did get the lowest priced dinner menu (79 euros, I think), but what a bargain. And, as someone mentions, the wine is very reasonably marked up.
The menu in question is essentially two consecutive starters, a meat course, and dessert. The daring choices for the two starters were two not exactly thrilling winter vegetables, varied beet roots and various sorts of cabbage. But what lovely colors and subtlety for the "Betteraves café Blue Mountain." If anything the "Chou pluriel" with its notes of vanilla was even more delicately nuanced. Both courses extreme in their discretion but the overall effect is very powerful. The main course is Bigorre pork with fig leaves and green tea: melt in the mouth delicious. Not wild about Baba au rhum, I appreciated the dessert less than others in our group, but most found it excellent.
Service attentive but not oppressive. Light, modern vibe, no stuffiness. Not a temple of gastronomy, just a lively, even fun restaurant that seemed to work equally well for a romantic couple's tête-à-tête or for our noisier group table. With five bottles of St Peray (which worked out to a bit more than one per couple), coffee, and bottled water, we paid 130€ per person.
I have been to Pic in Valence and found that at least two of the dishes (the two starters) at Anne-Sophie's new place rival those of Valence. My recommendation is the opposite of some of the others responding to this thread: I say go, and sooner rather than later, for when the stars start to fall--and they will--the prices will rise.
Perhaps I, Adrian, Pti and others have been too harsh; perhaps we've just gone the wrong day, ordered the wrong things, etc. Glad you had a good meal.
But frankly I'd rather eat at a place like I did today - the Restaurant of the Degres de Notre Dame in the 5th - with one of those ubiquitous Japanese staffs from chefs to servers, doing classic French food - duck breast, chicken, Cotes de Boeuf, St Jacques, comesquis, etc for 61 E a couple.