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Posts Tagged ‘Michelin Chef’

Cuisine: French gastronomic.

Visit: March 2013

Price: Very expensive.

Helen Daroz at Connaught hotel

Hélène Darroze at Connaught hotel

Chef:  Hélène Darroze is among the rare breed of female Michelin star chefs. Being awarded two of these coveted Michelin stars at her Connaught hotel restaurant, she established herself as one of the top chefs in London. Hélène Darroze displays her French roots in her native Landes region (south-west France) through her cuisine. Provenance is very dear to her and the menu shows it. Each of the featuring dishes informs the diners about the origin of the meat, seafood or vegetable. She seems to be proud of knowing her sources well, which in today’s scandalous world (the horse meat scandal, etc.) has become one of the priorities for many foodies.

chef Helene Darroze

chef Helene Darroze

Food: Origin, freshness and innovative assemblage of ingredients. Starting with the signature Raviole of “Institut de Beauvais” potato with Pecorino from Tuscany, confit bacalao from Bilbao, Basque pork chorizo, watercress and roasting poultry jus, I knew that I am not going to be having a simple meal. The potato dough based ravioli à la Italy, filled with Basque fish and spicy sausage and accompanied by Tuscan cheese screamed almost as a “fusion” cuisine to me and thus I would think of her cooking rather in these terms than just purely French defined.

One of the signature dishes of Helene Daroze

One of the signature dishes of Helene Daroze

Sampling another starter from my partner – the L’araignée de mer de Norvège  Spider crab from Norway seasoned with coral mousseline, fresh coriander and Meyer lemon, palm heart tartare flavoured with Bourbon vanilla olive oil, “yam kung” jelly, shellfish tuile and consommé) was refreshing, yet not mind-blowing delicious. Nice with a glass of champagne, but I would not have it again.

For my main course I have ordered another one of the chef’s signature dishes – the La Saint-Jacques XXL de plongée (Hand-harvested XXL scallop cooked with Tandoori spices, confit carrot and citrus mousseline, spring onion reduction with Lampong pepper and fresh coriander. The vegetables on the side were pleasant, yet the texture of the scallop was too meaty for me, not tender as I love with high quality scallops, but rather robust and thick.

Seared scallops

Seared scallops

Dishes like Le porc basque “Kintao”Black pork from Pays Basque and some other main courses must be ordered for two people, so you will need your “tastemate” and order it together.

Drinks: The wine-by-the-glass selection is tempting and we were easily seduced by it. Many of the wines are served from a magnum size bottle, which makes them mature a bit slower. Starting with a glass of white Chablis Le Clos Monopole, Château de Béru, which was served by Magnum, I managed to pair the minerality of this Chardonnay  with my potato ravioli and the bacalao fish. I felt like continuing with a red and the only one grape varietal that rarely disappoints me with seafood and white meats is Pinot Noir,so I went for one from Eaton Family in New Zealand’s Marlborough region. It was fresh, lightly strawberry scented and managed easily not to overpower the scallops since they were more intense than usually.

The Connaught hotel has tremendous cellar so if your pocket allows it and you want something special, rush and get one of these rarities:

  • Château d’Yquem, 1er Cru Supérieur vintages 1900 or 1891 
  • Château Margaux, 1er Grand Cru Classé 1945
  • Champagne, Henriot 1928
  • Marsala Superiore “1860”, Marco De Bartoli 50cl  

Atmosphere: Serious, old school, classic interior with heavy wooden features. Dress smart, men are preferred to wear a jacket. The chairs are comfortable and service quite friendly, despite your complaints about the food (I just cannot pretend at a 2 Michelin star restaurant that I am delighted by the food when I am not).

Opening hours: Closed on Monday and Sunday. Tues – Fri: Lunch: 12:00pm – 2:30pm, Dinner: 6:30pm – 10:30pm. Sat: Brunch: 11:00am – 2:30pm, Dinner: 6:30pm – 10:30pm

The restaurant will be closed between Tuesday 6th August until dinner on Tuesday 20th August 2013

Address: Carlos Pl, London W1K 2AL, United Kingdom

Contact: Tel:  +44 (0)20 7107 8880, Email: dining@the-connaught.co.uk 

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Zagat’s readers voted Le Bernardin as “The Most Popular Restaurant in New York in 2012” and the restaurant received 19 out of 20 points triumphing others and making Le Bernardin to become the only such highly prized restaurant in New York since 1996. The Michelin Guide honored the Chef Eric Ripert and Le Bernardin with its highest rating of three stars in 2005 and each year thereafter. Le Bernardin seems to keep its standard high. Moreover, the restaurant ranks 19 on the San Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants list, which is quite an achievement in the global culinary scene. Knowing about all these flattering achievements one enters the restaurant full of extraordinary expectations, making it even harder for the restaurant to meet them. Well, I thought that my first encounter (and my wallet saving option) would be wiser to spend at the restaurant’s bar so I can figure out whether it is worth the waiting for the reservation and the food. My impressions follow.

Bar at Le Bernardin

Bar at Le Bernardin

Cuisine: Gastronomic French seafood.

Visit: February 2012

Price: Very expensive (Prix-Fixe $127 – 4 courses at the restaurant; at the bar the selection is limited, yet you get great food with some options; the City Harvest weekly changing 3 course-menu offered exclusively at lunch in the Lounge for set price $45 is a great deal if you have time for a two-hour lunch – $5 go for the City Harvest, the world’s oldest food rescue organization founded in 1981).

Eric Ripert

Eric Ripert

Chef: Eric Ripert has an unparalleled experience at Paris’ best dining establishments including the first purely seafood restaurant ever to achieve three Michelin stars – Le Bernardin. There he worked closely with its founder and chef Gilbert Le Coze and after the later’s death he continued to uphold the highest standards of Le Bernardin. Ripert is the success behind the Le Bernardin’s expansion to the US, where the restaurant quickly became a star of the gastronomic stage. He knows fish and seafood very well owing to his early experience in Antibes, South of France, that laid foundations to his culinary expertise.

Bar scene at Le Bernardin

Bar scene at Le Bernardin

Atmosphere: This is another review from my bar tour through the top New York restaurants. The atmosphere and approach in each of them though is different. Foodwise my personal winner was only by a pinch of salt Per Se, yet some would disagree and put Le Bernardin ahead. The bar at Le Bernardin was more lively and felt more cool, yet the more discreet Per Se can be preferred by these seeking privacy and romance. You ned to dress up smart and elegant, no jeans, t-shirts and hats. There are two types of seating, one at the high chairs at the bar, and another, more comfortable for most of us, at small tables sprinkled around the bar area.

Food:  The seafood is prepared using French cooking techniques. The chef captured its spirit saying:

 Everything we do in the kitchen—using subtle textures and flavors, seeking out the freshest ingredients—has the same goal: to enhance and elevate the fish. 

Of course you can go for oysters or caviar as these are very popular luxurious bar snacks available at Le Bernardin. These come with a very high price tag though and do not test the chef’s skills.

Peruvian Style Scallop Ceviche

Peruvian Style Scallop Ceviche

With a glass of champagne we started with the Peruvian Style Scallop Ceviche. Peruvian food preparation style has been in the fashion focus of recent years and Ripert could not escape being enchanted by the savory whims of this Latin-American culinary style. The scallops were utmost tender, melting softly like a bubble of silk, refreshed gently with the lime and spice sauce, just to add a gentle accent to the dish. Unlike in Peru, where the sauce pops out and twists your tongue in an anxious move from the acid attack it bestows upon you, in New York you get it soft from the chef Ripert (an unlikely turn in America where generally the palates seek excitement).

Moving to a glass of white wine (German Riesling) we dove to the Kanpachi Tartare covered by a layer of wasabi tobiko ginger and embalmed  in a coriander emulsion. The fish was fresh, tender and light. Wasabi colored and spiced up fish eggs (tobiko) added crunchy texture to the slightly chewy chopped kanpachi, zest and warmth from the spicy ingredients, and the coriander cast more depth to the dish on the spoon. Delicious!

Kanpachi Tartare

Kanpachi Tartare

The waiter was praising the Yellowfin Tuna from the restaurant menu so we got it after a couple of minutes of persuasion. Normally, the restaurant dishes are not served at the bar, but if you show interest in food you can get some starters. The Tuna is chef’s specialty and indeed, he prepares it well. The paper-thin slices of sublime tuna are layered on thin beetroot shavings (which you cannot see unless you lift the fish) and covered with chopped capers and chives in olive oil. This delicate fish has enough oil on it and has enough fat so it likes wines with high acidity that cut through the fat. My choice would be either a fresh and complex white wine (such as Burgundy – ideally mineral Chablis or Puligni Montrachet) or a light red with good acidity (Pinot Noir or the balanced Greek one I had – look below).

YELLOWFIN TUNA

YELLOWFIN TUNA

From the warm snacks we went for the Warm Lobster and Truffle “en Brioche” since it sounded divine even on the paper. It was tasty and richer than our previous dishes. The fluffy Brioche was filled with warm tender lobster and black truffle shavings. Aromatic, intense yet still retaining its own harmony. The Brioche called for a heavier oaky Chardonnay or an intense white wine blend.

Warm Lobster and Truffle “en Brioche”

Warm Lobster and Truffle “en Brioche”

In the afternoon you can come to the bar and savor the french style with the “Café Gourmand”. You will get a tasting of a trio of mini desserts with coffee (it is a sort of take on the british afternoon tea – the French and the British always have to find something that would compete with the other’s inventions).

Drinks: Intriguing wines by the glass. I was pleasantly surprised by the Greek wine from the Domaine Economou located on the island of Crete. The wine undergoes 7 years of ageing in the barrels (100% French oak), tanks and in the bottles so it is ready to drink when it is released to the market. The local red grape varietals Liatiko (80%) is blended with 20% of Mandilaria. On the nose you get some fruity blackberry aromas and spices. The palate is mature Bordeaux-like with plum, spices, blackberries, jam, raisin and prune flavors. It is complex with supple tannins and long-lasting aftertaste. By-the-glass – you must try it!

Greek wine by the glass

Greek wine by the glass

Opening Hours: Lunch: Mon– Fri: 12 pm – 2:30 pm
Dinner: Mon – Thurs: 5:15 pm – 10:30 pm; Fri– Sat: 5:15 pm – 11 pm

Address: Le Bernardin | 155 West 51st Street, New York 10019, USA

Contact: Tel: +1 (212) 554 1515

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