I am one of those that likes L'Astrance a lot. I have been there for lunch several times (is 5 or 6 times several?); the first time being just after they had earned their first star.
I have a reservation there for dinner in a few weeks for myself and my companion, for an upcoming trip, but I am feeling some hesitation, and would love it any if anyone can answer a few questions:
- One of the great things about L'Astrance lunch has been, for me at least, the relative value (originally 70 euro, my recent visit last year 90 euro or 130 euro or 190 euro (same as dinner menu) if I recall correctly). But is it true that the only option at dinner is the 210 euro menu (with optional wine pairing for another 90 euro)? My last lunch at L'Astrance was the 130 euro menu; what would be the difference between this menu and the "Menu L'Astrance" dinner menu?
- My last meal at L'Astrance was not as enjoyable as my previous one just one year before it. I found the dishes, and the general meal, to be very similar to those in the past. The same Amuses, the same Bread, the same Dessert and Fruit and Egg Nog. Additionally, I did not enjoy one or two things at all, which has rarely been the case there. I was surprised that there hasn't been more change to the menu in years. Perhaps because of the nature of having no choice in your food, this lack of change is much more relevant than in a restaurant with many choices. Maybe the novelty has worn off a bit. Will I have a significantly different experience at dinner?
- It used be an easy decision to go to L'Astrance for its 100 euro, plus or minus, lunch; but at 210 euro for a no choice prix-fixe, aren't there some alternatives that I have not yet been to, that might be worth thinking about? I have not been to L'Epicure or to Le Meurice for dinner (been to Le Meurice for the lunch deal, and I was not impressed with the food, though the overall experience was nice), but of course comparing these to L'Astrance is apples and oranges.
I was able to get the following information from the wonderful concierge at The Hotel Lancaster:
Menu 3 courses at 70 Euros excluding wine and 120 Euros including wine
Menu 5 courses at 120 Euros excluding wine and 200 Euros including wine
Menu 7 courses at 210 Euros excluding wine and 330 Euros including wine
dinner Menu at 210 Euros excluding wine and 330 Euros including wine (only).
For me, the 120 euro menu, which I have done on my last two visits, is plenty of food (though less than some other three-stars), and is a wonderful lunch experience and an excellent value. The portions are indeed smallish, and the food is generally light. The idea of an additional 90 euro for two small courses might change the value equation a little. Regarding the wine pairing; a couple of friends of mine who are far more vino-centric than I think the pairing they do is excellent.
In any event, as I was going through old photos last night, I looked at pictures from my last four times at L'Astrance; the most striking thing was the sameness of each meal, with many dishes not changing at all. It is for this reason, that I am leaning towards going to Gagnaire for lunch instead, even though that is a no choice menu as well. Though I had two dishes I did not like at Gagnaire my last time there, I know that I will get something completely different this time, and there is a very good chance that it will be great. And while the style of the amuses and the desserts will be the same, what is specifically offered will be different.
Regarding L'Astrance, I still love it for lunch; the 70 euro option for a relatively light meal, and the 120 euro option, are both wonderful.
From a quick googling (this: http://gastronomyblog.com/2012/07/31/...))
there should be the 2 "cheaper" menus at lunch and the 2 more expensive menus at diner (with one "menu" price for both the lunch and diner
IMO, if you feel the food is not as, erm, as inspiring as you first experienced, then just do not go; try another restaurant.