Posts Tagged ‘michelin star’

Cuisine: Gastronomic Italian.

Visit: November 2012

Price: High (starters above €20, PRIMI: first courses above €20 and SECONDI: main courses starting at €29; a 7-course tasting menu for € 70,00 or a 9-course for €90,00 are of a better value).

Chef: Alfredo Russo is from Turin, but his cooking goes beyond the borders of the Northern Italian Piedmont region. With his wife Stefania he opened Dolce Stil Novo in 1990 and only after three years he was awarded his first Michelin star for his innovative Italian cooking. He also published two booksDa Idea” and “Il miele in cucina”, participated in numerous conventions devoted to high cuisine as well as in a TV show in Israel. His concept of taking traditional dishes and ingredients, elaborating them from an idea and create something new stands behind the title of his first book Da Idea. Alfredo Russo gives cooking classes at his restaurant as well so you can learn how to create  Michelin star dishes like his.

Modern and sleek Dolce Stil Novo

Atmosphere: Simple, open and classy. This a gastronomic restaurant located just next to the former summer royal palace of the Italian kings and it feels very upper-class. A quiet, large dining room with high ceilings and views of the palace is made as if royals were to come for a lunch or dinner here. Dress accordingly to the restaurant’s stately attire, either a jacket or a formal shirt for men and a dress or elegant pant suit for women is appropriate although it is not required. Dolce Stil Novo can be a great spot for a romantic date since the restaurant’s location in the suburban Torino near the sprawling park next to the castle invites for a nice walk before or after you eat.

Food:  Playful, modern and rather complex than simple Italian. I was impressed by the starter of Vitello tonnato di fassone piemontese con caramello al limone, which is one of my favorite Italian starters. Usually a thin-cut veal slices are patted with a layer of rich and creamy tuna sauce with capers in this dish, but the version of Alfredo Russo is mush lighter and elegant. He wraps the thin veal around a spoonful of the tuna sauce and adds much more of a refreshing lemon juice creating a delicious appetizer that will not fill you up before the second and third courses arrive. Great with a glass of the local red Barbaresco or perhaps some white from Gavi.

Punte di asparagi con uovo di fattoria croccante e sale di vaniglia

Another starter or you can have it as your “secondo” is Punte di asparagi con uovo di fattoria croccante e sale di vaniglia. This is a fun plate. An asparagus cream with vanilla salt covered with cheese shavings is a discovery for most of the diners. It is creamy, yet fluffy and light at the same time. Multiple textures from creamy smooth to dry and rough mingle on your tongue as a pinch of sand on a layer of cream in a fresh milk bucket. This is one of the vegetarian dishes the restaurant offers, but there plenty of others including various pasta and rice-based plates.

In the mood for seafood? Then start or continue with the lobster. The Astice scottato alla piastra con cremoso di melanzane viola is light, fresh and juicy. The succulent pieces of lobster with juicy marinated vegetables are drizzled with a thick drops of balsamic vinegar. It is a nice dish for light eaters, but it was not my favorite from the menu – I found it quite boring and the lobster was far from its Maine (US state) relative, that is much more tasty and complex.

Lobster tails.

One of his signature dishes also suitable for vegetarians are the “Pasta in bianco olio e parmigiano”- Alfredo Russo. In this lasagna-like pasta he combines three layers, each of a different age, of parmigiano cheese. The meat lovers will not be disappointed at this Piemontese restaurant either. The special beef main course of Spalla di manzo con intingolo alle erbe aromatiche is good but quite small, so you will still have some space for a dessert or a cheese plate. It is the most expensive meat on the menu though, so I would not pay for it.

We skipped the desserts, although we got from the chef one pre-dessert of a creamy mouse with sorbet, which was delicious, and later with tea the chef treated us to a tray of chocolate and caramel lolies and small sweets so we did not miss out any sugar that night.

Chef’s pre-dessert

We could not resist the wide cheese selection on a trolley. The offer of mostly local cheese from mild cow cheese to stinky blue goat cheese lets you savor the flavors of all cheese corners of Piedmont. I would not recommend the stinky goat blue cheese as it tasted like a stinky wax for all of us who tried it, the cow and goats cheeses with rind were nice though. Overall, I was a bit disappointed by the restaurant’s selection. Italy has excellent cheeses, so why not to show these instead?

Drinks: The wine list has a great selection of price-friendly local wines. It was a pity though that the sommelier recommended us wines that we did not love as they did not correspond with our requests and her description. The choice and quality of teas is tremendous! Having a cup of a local herbal blend after a multiple-course dinner is all one wishes before getting to bed. You get a small hour-glass to measure exactly the length of steeping your tea in water, so you can remove it in time to obtain just the beneficial substances from the tea. Many restaurants and even tea houses neglect the right steeping time for teas, so I give a huge credit to Dolce Stil Novo for making the tea experience proper for their guests.

Tea selection

Opening hours: Dinner: Tuesday to Saturday: from 8:00 pm to 10:00 pm; Lunch: daily from 12:30 pm to 2:00 pm except on Monday and Tuesday.

Address: Piazza della Repubblica, 4 – Venaria Reale (Torino); Italy

Contact: Tel: +(39) 011 4992343 – Mob: +(39) 339.1996218; Reservations are required for both lunch and dinner.

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Cuisine: Modern Thai with traditional references.

Visit: October 2012

Price: High (five-course menu 1800 THB; add 325 THB for tea and petit fours).

Sra Bua by Kiin Kiin

Atmosphere: Cool, traditional Thai decor with modern twist. Located inside in the fresh and artistic Kempinski hotel in the heart of the Bangkok’s shopping district the Sra Bua restaurant became the dining destination of  the Thai fashionistas. With its attractive modern meets traditional concept it also attracts business travellers and food connoisseurs passing through the town. Dress accordingly to the occasion – modern, fashionable as well as classic and elegant work suits are appropriate.

A spoon of complex flavours at Sra Bua

Chef:  The conception is directed by a renowned chef Henrik Yde Anderson, who cooks at the only Michelin-Star Thai restaurant in the world – the Kiin Kiin in Copenhangen. Yde Anderson is not afraid of experimentation. It is not an easy quest with the already complex flavours one finds in traditional Thai food. He managed it very well and the craft of the local Bangkok chefs he trained was rewarded with the 2011 Thailand’s Best Restaurants award. It was his experience in Thailand that had inspired him to purchase the modern adaptation of Thai cuisine he created in Denmark, so now he gives something back.

Food: The set menu starts with the Nibblings – a trio of tiny Soy Roasted Cashew Nut Meringue, Kaffir Lime Leaf Scented Lotus Root and a Prawn Cracker with Chilli Tomato Dip. The meringue was original and sweet in its nature, yet intense with soy and cashew nut flavours. I liked the kaffir lime leaf scented lotus root for its simplicity and interesting taste profile.

The Street Cooking course

Then we moved to The Street Cooking – with a spoon of Tuna Tartar with Lemongrass, Miang Som-O, on a small plate served Crispy Pork Crackling with Nam Prik Num, Prawn Bread with sesame and a spoon of Smoked Chicken Sausage with Pickled Cabbage. The Tuna Tartar with Lemongrass was my favourite for its refreshing properties and juicy pommelo

After all these small tasters we continued with real-size starters. I was intrigued by the Gang Dang Frozen Red Curry with Lobster and Lychee. As its title discloses something temperature-related is different about this dish. Not many of you  have probably tried a frozen curry – sounded like a savoury ice-cream to me at first – yet it was not only a magical dish as the waitress poured a steaming liquid ice all over the dish, but it tasted really great. The lobster was delicate and perfectly matched with the softly sweet lychee, the green garnish and foamy reddish curry created a complex dish. A cup of Thai tea was soothing with this elegant and at the same time powerful starter.

Gang Dang: Magic addition of liquid ice

The Deep Fried Soft Shell Crab with Green Mango and Soft nam Jim is also very nice and refreshing. The green mango adds zest to the crisp fried soft shell crab. This appetiser is better with a glass of white wine, rather than a cup of tea as the previous one.

Getting closer to the finish with Main dish with rice we selected these two mains: Quail in Aromatic Tom Kha with Chanterellle and Crispy Skin and Confit Chicken Leg with Fresh peas, Grilled Asparagus and Peanuts. I loved the chanterelle mushrooms and the creamy Tom Kha sauce, but my hesitation about quail had once again proved that I am not a quail-loving individual. The chicken confit was a meeting point of Thai and French cuisines, where peanuts and green vegetables played the Thai part and chicken leg in confit style was the French co-actor. It was nice, but not mouth-watering.

Quail in Aromatic Tom Kha

Whether you have a sweet tooth or not, the desserts are not to be missed at Sra Bua. My favourite was the Pistachio Cake with Pandan Ice Cream and Frozen Coconut Foam. The greenish sweet pandan is in-all-present ingredient in Thai cuisine. I love the pandan ice tea, but I adore the pandan ice-cream. No need to worry, that pandan is something of an acquired taste. It is mellow, slightly sweet and not very intense so it blends well with almost anything.

Pistachio Cake with Pandan Ice Cream and Frozen Coconut Foam

My friend got the Four Kind of Tea as Dessert with White Chocolate Crumble, but she did not like it much as she found the white chocolate too rich and overall this dessert was over-mixed.

After all that food there is an option to pay extra for Petit fours served with tea or coffee (325 add THB). These are very interesting, tiny, and change all the time, so I would give them a try with a cup of your favourite tea or coffee to help with digestion.

Drinks: Great selection of Thai teas as well as international wine list cater to all palates. I went for a pot of Thai tea this time and was perfectly satisfied.

Opening hours: Lunch: daily from 12:00 – 15:00 (last order at 14:00); Dinner: daily from 18:00 – 23:00 (last order at 22:00)

Address: Siam Kempinski Hotel Bangkok, 991/9 Rama 1 Road, Pathumwan; Bangkok 10330; Thailand

Contact: Tel: +66 (0) 2 162 9000; email:  reservations.siambangkok@kempinski.com

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Cuisine: Gastronomic modern French.

Visit: October 2012

Price: Very high (dining at any of the multiple-Michelin-stared Robuchon’s restaurant never comes cheap, although small eaters can save by ordering less plates from the small plate concept of L’Atelier or come for the more economical lunch menu).

Robuchon’s Caviar surprise

Chef: Joel Robuchon does not need any introduction for a majority of food connoisseurs. His innovative concept of modern fine dining with an open kitchen, preparing a wide range of innovative small dishes while keeping the quality on a superb level, first took off in Tokio in 2003. Since then his restaurant empire has spread around the world and earned him a record number of Michelin stars. His Hong Kong venture was recently (2012) awarded its third Michelin star. Judging from my dinner there the restaurant deserves it if I close my eyes over the at times too slow service.

Black & red at L’Atelier du Joel Robuchon

Atmosphere: Sexy, modern and elegant. L’Atelier du Joel Robuchon in Hong Kong follows its design format of a sleek dark elegance. Black and red colours dominate the interior while a bright light casts emphasis on the open kitchen. It is entertaining to watch the cooks frantically moving from a stove to stove and counters chopping, whipping and mixing complex dishes brought to perfection. The restaurant is located in the luxurious Landmark shopping mall, yet it has its own escalator (a staple of Hong Kong) to bring you into this heaven of luxurious dining. Wear anything chic and elegant although you might get away with a more casual attire if you show your wallet is up to the Atelier’s expensive menu and wines.

Sea urchin with lobster jelly

Food: Complex, inventive with a local twist. The food at the Hong Kong’s L’Atelier is different from anywhere else I have dined so far (London, Paris, New York, Monaco). I always start with the popular small portions – tapas-style – dishes as these present the chef’s craft so well. Moreover, ordering these is a great opportunity to try a wide range of different dishes on one occasion.

I love the Robuchon’s lobster ravioli at Hong Kong presented as the Maine lobster in turnip raviolis (LE HOMARD en fines ravioles, navet au romarin à l’aigre-doux). So delicate as they melt in your mouth with a surprisingly varied rainbow of flavours. Rosemary adds depth and freshness and lightens up sometimes this too butter-dominated starter (in Paris I had them too buttery). Here in Hong Kong the ravioli were superb.

Lobster ravioli

I wanted this evening to be a great adventure so I went for some dishes that were new to me. I was curious what was hidden in A surprise of Osciètre caviar (LE CAVIAR IMPERIAL servi en surprise, fine gelée cardinalisée). As my picture above shows you had no idea, not after you dipped into the caviar tin. What I revealed was another savoury, fresh and delicate product of sea – crab meat softened up by a fine jelly. Amazing with a glass of bubbly or refreshing white wine.

Being in Asia moved (as usually) my tasting boundaries. My next dish the Sea urchin with lobster jelly, cauliflower cream and broccoli purée (L’OURSIN dans une délicate gelé, blanc manger de chou-fleur) was surely different from most of the dishes I eat in Europe or America. Again, the dish was turned into a culinary masterpiece. Balance, depth, wide span of flavours and nothing too quirky as with lots of exotic ingredients like the sea urchin – the chef and his team mixed and whipped it all well. A slightly oaky Chardonnay would be my pick with this creamy delicacy.

On a similar Asian note was the Sea urchin risotto with spiky artichokes (LE RISOTTO ‘MANTECATO‘aux langues d’oursin à l’artichaut épineux). Yes, I did not have enough of sea urchin so I had to get one more dish with it. This time the soft, liver-like texture of the sea urchin was more potent as it was served on the top of the creamy artichoke risotto. Decorated with edible gold leafs it was visible that this is not a cheap dish, definitely it would find many fans between the rich Chinese businessmen inviting their potential partners as they traditionally like to host others generously.

Sea urchin risotto

Always impressive yet served in a new coat were the Pan seared sea scallops with caviar, fregula pasta and shellfish emulsion (LES SAINT-JACQUES les noix poilées/caviar, risotto de fregola et émulsion de coquillages). Again I would say they were more luxurious than in other locations I ate. Addition of caviar crowning the crisp pan seared scallops and gold leafs makes a powerful statement. The caviar was worth pairing though bringing in a new dimension of fresh and slightly popping texture. The scallops were soft like a feather pillow and the rise shaped fregola pasta made into a creamy risotto blended well with the sea shells emulsion. This could be a smaller main course for some of you as it is quite filling.

Sea scallops with caviar

To lighten it all up you can get the Tomato “mille-feuille” layered with crabmeat, avocado and green apple (LE CRABE en mille-feuille de tomate avec coulis verjuté). It is refreshing and light enough to have a glass of a crisp white wine with it.

Tomato mille-feuille

Robuchon makes the best mini-burgers on the planet (sorry for the excitement, but I always have to order them and I have never been disappointed so far).  The Wagyu beef and foie gras burgers with lightly caramelized bell peppers (LE BURGER au foie gras et poivrons verjutés). The secret of this dish is the top quality Wagyu beef cooked into an ideal juicy and flavour-bursting burger. Foie gras adds softness and caramelized bell peppers are the best stunt for onions. Original and better than any burger I have ever had. The bread is fresh and tip-top, not like the chewy plastic copies of bread used for burgers elsewhere.

Drinks:The wine list is stunning. With twenty wines-by-the-glass you might be seduced to opt for these instead of a bottle. Old world as well as New world wines are represented with the likes of a 2006 vintage of deep and rich Kistler Chardonnay from California or a red 2004 Château Pavie from Bordeaux on the list. The sweet wine afficionados will find Rivesaltes Cuvée Amédée de Bescombes, Bescombes-Singla from France in its 1945 vintage by-the-glass tempting at the end of the dinner (or lunch?).

Caymus Vineyards 2001

The bottles have ratings from Wine Spectator (WS) as well as the Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate (WA). Beware of a 10% service charge at the restaurant even on wines!

A magnum of Petrus 1961 is listed for stunning HK$380,000; so you do not need to worry that Robuchon’s head sommelier has not been thinking about wines for a very special celebration (it differs from person to person). There is also a magnum of 1992 Screaming Eagle, the Californian cult wine, for HK$220,000 or the sweet icon from Sauternes – Château d’Y quem 1921 vintage for HK$130,000 (all prices as of October 2012).

We were celebrating something that night, but we are not billionaires so we selected a Californian red hero from Caymus Vineyards 2001 vintage. The wine was smooth, balanced and rewarding with long finish – ideal for our style of celebrating.

Opening hours: Lunch: Mon-Sun: 12:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. (Last Order); Dinner: Mon-Sun: 6:30 p.m. – 10:30 p.m. (Last Order)

Great news for your wallet -The HK$280 Happy hour at LE JARDIN-OUTDOOR GARDEN from 18:30 to 19:30 daily lets you to taste multiple canapes for one price.

Address: L’ATELIER de Joël Robuchon,  Shop 315 & 401, The Landmark, Central, Hong Kong

Contact: Tel: +(852) 2166 9000

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Cuisine: French gastronomic

Visit: August 2012

Price: high (appetizers around €30; mains well above €30)

Amouse bouche

Chef: Xavier Mathieu seasonally reinvents the Mediterranean cuisine. Textures, colors and nature are his inspiration to recreate the old provençal recipes he knew since he was a child. He was awarded one Michelin star and is an author of a cookbook called “Provence Voyage Culinaire” (“Culinary voyage through Provence”).

The refreshing restaurant’s interior

Atmosphere: The restaurant is located at a tranquil Hostellerie Le Phébus. This luxurious hotel is a member of the high-end Relais Chateaux group. During the summer most guests prefer dining outside at a spacious terrace. The views from here are soothing and the water running from the fountain in the garden has meditative effect on your senses. It is a great romantic spot for couples as well as a calming retreat for busy city dwellers. Listening to the continuous hum of cicadas and sipping on your wine is a dream-come-true for many stressed citizens of the modern world. Here you can dress up, unwind and savor the calm.

Food: Creative, good-looking, but lacking original, enjoyable and engaging flavors. For me as well for my dining partner the food was quite bland and boring. The only reward was the final cheese plate we each selected from a luscious cheese board.

Fish and potato Brandade

I had selected an appetizer from the chef’s special menu called “Mon histoire, ma vie” (My history, my life). The Brandado vo gangasso, morue aux poireaux de Mémé Rose, pavé mosaïque looked artistic and was good. However sophisticated was the name though, the Salted cod fish with Mémé Rose viennoise leek tasted more like a dish I would get at a basic tapas bar or a brasserie for a fifth of the price. It was just salty and that was it, I could not find many other flavors in this dish.

Another rich yet boring starter was the Cold crayfish “vichyssoise” soup with potatoes and fennel. It was not bad, just not as interesting as one would imagine for a Michelin star restaurant.

Vichyssoise d’Ecrevisses

The main courses were not much of an upgrade. Again they looked interesting, but there was not much substance under the cover as they were just good enough to eat, but many would not return to try them again.

The Adobo Provençau, Joue et queue de bœuf aux carottes, miel, moutarde de betterave et baies de genévrier or Cheek and beef tail with carrots, honey, beets mustard and juniper berries was far from being a grandmother’s meal as well as far from bursting with complex flavors.

Roasted scorpion fish

I liked the Roasted scorpion fish, tomatoes, squid and garlic “bourride” with Espelette roadpepper the most, although I would not serve it with the chewy squids. The sauce was rich and the peppers juicy adding flavor to the sauce-friendly scorpion fish. The same fish is often used in France in the Bouillabaisse soup.

Finally, as we saw the cheese trolley, we had not been able to resist and each picked goat, sheep and cow cheese. They were all in great shape and excellent cheeses. I would say a highlight of the dinner.

We did not trust the menu any more, so we did not order any desserts. We were more curious about the petit fours trolley. It was fun as we selected candies, cookies and marshmallows to go with our tea at the end of the dinner. I had to order my favorite verveine tea so popular in this part of France. This herbal leafy tea has a soft citrus aroma, yet it is soothing after dinner.

Drinks: The French wine list entails many low production wineries from the region. On the sommelier’s suggestion we got a bottle of elegant red wine from Domaine Hauvette 2004 vintage. It was not cheep. At €122 per bottle it was not a bargain, but it satisfied my highly selective palate as most of top Bordeaux would have at a much higher price at a restaurant. There are champagnes, white, rosé and red wine by the glass as well as digestives such as Porto and aperitifs such as the local scary (at least for me) green Pastis.

Opening hours: In the season open daily for dinner, closed on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday for lunch.

Contact: +33(0) 4 90 05 78 83

Address: Route de Murs; Joucas; 84220 Gordes; France

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