(Paris) L'Ambroisie, any recent review/report ?
I'm going to Paris in May, and not going single for the first time in a long while :-)
We're planning a great meal, and I was thinking about L'Ambroisie, it is in a great area to walk in and out even in less than ideal weather because of the covered alleys.
My girlfriend eat pretty much everything except seafood (outside of salmon and other "regular" fish); so having a great menu with a more "meat centric" selection.
I am also looking at Lasserre and Ledoyen (both are near nice areas, and close to L'Orangerie).
I was also looking at Le Pré Catelan, but since it is a bit further away it is "less fun" to walk in and walk out for a stroll after lunch or dinner (need to taxi in and out).
Le Cinq will be kept as a backup (mostly because it has a easier menu ?).
(I'd like to go back to Gagnaire, but it might be too "exotic")
Not very recent, but I went last June, for the first time. Dishes ranged from very good to exceptional . This is of course not as fun a place as, say, l'Arpège or Gagnaire, but it's not so bad either, and the food more than makes up for it.
Wine is on the expensive side unfortunately, and the glassware is a bit "crude" compared to other "3* establishments. Maybe they give you better glasses if you order expensive bottles, though.
Don't know how "meat centric" it is, though. I'd say it's quite balanced, with as many meat/fishes options.
Maybe Ledoyen would be a somewhat "safer" bet. Not sure how I would explain that in a clear, objective way, though.
That said, I postponed going to l'Ambroisie for 5 years, and regretted not going earlier. And now I want to go back.
Pictures from our meal here: https://picasaweb.google.com/11387386...
One of the most polarized gastronomy places in the world probably belongs to Bernard Pacaud’s L’Ambroisie. Some guests, in particular first timers, were often turned off by the stiffness or intimidated by the formality/seriousness of the staffs. And sorry, (often) diners were not “kings” here. On the other hand, lots of people are blown away by the kitchen’s superb creations and not too picky about the restaurant’s hospitality. I think I fit in to the latter group especially after my latest visit in Nov last year. After nearly 5 years of absent, I was glad to finally be able to return here.
This visit was different than my earlier ones in a few ways: I went to dinner with my wife instead of a solo lunch like in previous occasions; I was told that securing a table for dinner at L’Ambroisie was very difficult, but fortunately it was not really the case for us – I had no issue reserving a table for 2 about one month before. Booking for dinner understandably more challenging as during this visit, the restaurant was full-house including the 3rd room in the back; at my previous lunch meals, at most 60% of the tables were occupied. These days, Mathieu Pacaud, Bernard’s son, was an integral part of L’Ambroisie kitchen – not sure since when. They would try to follow the steps of other successful father-child chef team such as in the case of Bras, Arzak and Marcon family.
The service, this time, was the best I’ve ever experienced and it was rather unexpected given I’ve been here 3 times before and did not see significant improvements in the past. The maitre de maison - Mr. Pascal was, as always, professional, elegant and focused. However, unlike my previous visits, he's more relaxed and much warmer this time. He smiled more often and talked with us in a few occasions; at the end of our meal, he even encouraged us to re-visit during winter to savor Bernard’s legendary roasted Bresse chicken with black truffles butter. There was also a younger staff that still recognized me, even though my last visit was more than 4 years ago, and his English has improved tremendously. Perhaps, it's true after all that, L'Ambroisie is the kind of restaurant where diners eat better and feel more comfortable after several visits. The only ‘fault’ of the service that night was when I returned to my chair from a rest room, I found my main course was already on the table although it’s still warm.
Similar to my other meals here, I usually have one amuse, 3 courses and a dessert. It went as follow,
Amuse-bouche: flavorful red mullet with its crispy skin served with veal juice and celery & apple puree - a ‘lavish’ and good start. Well, prior to this, we’re teased with light paprika and cheese short bread – it replaced the restaurant’s famous gougeres
1st course: (big) soft-boiled egg, flawlessly executed, with white truffle and cep ‘sauce’ was amazing! The egg white was really soft, but nicely held the pretty & tasty runny yolk inside. Egg and Alba truffle was like a match in ‘heaven’. The truffle and cep mushrooms were intoxicating (in a good way); they added some complexity and enhanced the overall taste. An excellent dish and somehow it tasted even better than Passard’s legendary egg
2nd course: blue lobster fricassee (with the shell fish in beautiful red color) was the reason I had to decline Pascal’s idea of having scallop with broccoli & truffle and it did not disappoint. I love Brittany lobster and I had personal mission to savor all of Bernard Pacaud’s losbter dishes. I “gave up” demanding the kitchen to cook and serve tender lobster; it’s almost always a bit too firm for my taste. However, this time ultimately Pacaud got the right texture of the tasty blue lobster (quite tender for the tail and rather firm for the claw). This homard dish, served with pumpkin puree and chestnut, was rich, intense (but not heavy) and complex but balanced. I could taste the variation of sweet, nutty, & slightly spicy flavors altogether. This is the 4th creation I’ve ever had, did I still miss any?
3rd course: I was excited knowing my request of having the ‘peerless’ pithivier dish of wild duck pie (served with salad) had been approved. There was a group of French business men (8 people) who also enjoyed and shared this pie dish. When I saw the tourte, it was not as ‘big’ as I initially thought. But, as I savored the duck meats, duck liver and veal inside the golden and airy pie – it looked as if it never ended. Furthermore, I ate about 1 quarter of my spouse’s portion. The meat was indeed succulent and flavorful; an ethereal dish and probably among the most delicious thing I’ve ever eaten at this restaurant.
My dessert: sugar in sphere shape with apple, sabayon, sorbet and pistachio. The sphere was thin; I kinda enjoyed its light texture and taste after intense courses. A decent dessert
My wife’s: a classic hot souffle in pralin flavor with mango coulis. It’s perfectly executed resulting in an airy and fluffy souffle with balanced flavor – an extra ice cream on the side should be nice
Bonus: flourless chocolate cake - I finally understood why Monsieur Pascal didn’t recommend this signature dessert for my wife ... because they would give each of us a tasting slice of this heavenly chocolate tart. It was as scrumptious as before, incredible consistency. However, this time it’s accompanied my mocha ice cream to intensify the chocolate flavor
A wonderful meal from start to finish and the hospitality was top notch this time. We felt very welcome in the house of Pacaud and left felt very happy and satisfied in terms of both food service. My meal at L’Ambroisie was simply getting better and better – a difficult task for any restaurant (which I’ve visited at least in 3 occasions) to achieve such feat. In my notes, I bestowed the food 98 pts (undoubtedly 3-star Michelin quality); as a matter of fact, it’s one of the two restaurants in the world with Michelin’s highest rating that I thought should receive “4-star” instead. If one day, there’s a restaurant that could topple my passion toward L’Arpege, L’Ambroisie (and possibly Matsukawa Tokyo) is probably the one .. Given Bernard Pacaud is not retired yet. With such great experience, I will certainly make a conscious effort to come here again in the future when I return to Paris.
re: Bu Pun Su
Pacaud Sr. stopped showing up on a daily basis about two years ago. It's even possible that Pacaud Jr. wasn't in the kitchen on the day of your visit as he is involved with the opening of Hexagone. Like Bras, unfortunately, the son is not the father (and it would be silly to think that someone would be able to follow in the footsteps of these singular individuals just because of family relations) and I'll leave it at that.