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Posts Tagged ‘two Michelin star restaurant’

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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Cuisine: New French

Visit: April 2013 (Since Sketch opened in 2002 I have dined there on a number of occasions, yet it is the forefront Parlour where I found my inner gourmet soul. The gastronomic restaurant still remains an interesting place to have a dinner and the Gallery is a fun room with great food while listening to the newest tunes of world music).

Price: High to very expensive at the gastronomic restaurant.

Eclectic design at Sketch

Eclectic design at Sketch

Chef : The head chef Pierre Gagnaire, who is behind the menus across Sketch, is a twice awarded three Michelin star French gastronomic hero. He has spread his influence worldwide from his restaurants in Paris, London, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Seoul and Dubai. At Sketch he influenced the executive chefs creating the food in all restaurants across Sketch. It is though at the Lecture Room & Library, Sketch’s two Michelin starred fine dining restaurant, that his influence comes to life most vividly.

Atmosphere: The Parlour can transform from a breakfast venue, through comfort lunch and original afternoon tea until the last drink before heading to bed at home. After 6pm it turns into a cool bar scene here, while the afternoons are popular for the tea-to-tellers enjoying a cup of a warm beverage with a cake or sandwich. It is quirky, eclectic and warmly decorated. One can enjoy the same treats (except for breakfast), yet in a very different environment at The Glade (pictured below). The rather ‘foresty’ design of the room attracts the “natural” crowd with tendency to prefer organic produce and cotton t-shirts rather than leather jackets and fur coats. Rattan furniture, plant-based design and vibrant natural colours were created by the duo of artists Carolyn Quartermaine and Didier Mahieu.

Imagination meets taste at Sketch

Imagination meets taste at Sketch

Another and the largest room is the Gallery designed by Turner Prize winning artist Martin Creed and merging all shapes, colours and materials you can possibly imagine. The gallery os more of a gastro brasserie also headed by Pierre Gagnaire. The crème de la crème is the fine dining Lecture Room & Library upstairs that is a bit more serious affair, while still keeping its wonderful design in focus. Oh, and do not miss the opportunity to visit the legendary toilettes at Sketch, you will be surprised what you see and hear …

Sketch: Gallery gastro brasserie

Sketch: Gallery gastro brasserie

Food: With the exception of the gastronomic restaurant upstairs, the menus tend to intertwine so you will find some of the brasserie features at the Parlour and Gallery as well as at the Glade. One of these tasty dishes is the Artichoke salad.  This starter of chopped baby artichokes, fennel with blue Stilton cheese, capped with fresh herb bouquet and baby salad leafs is refreshing a great with fresh green tea or a glass of white wine such as Sancerre.

Artichoke salad

Artichoke salad

Another common feature is Pierre’s salad of beefsteak tomatoes, salad, chicken breast, anchovies, crunchy croûtons, Parmesan cheese and refreshing creamy horseradish dressing. For the Caesar salad style lovers this is the right choice.

A healthful cup of Green soup blended from watercress, spinach, cucumber, green apple and a dollop of cream will please vegetarians and nutrition conscious diners.

On the other hand the more hearty Beef tartare served with potato “fondant” is perfectly tender (hopefully no horse meat in it, but I doubt it as it would not taste so smooth like this) and presented lovely with a shell of tiny quail egg with slightly running yolk in a mollet style.

Sandwiches, Mac and cheese, burgers and afternoon tea specialties such as daily made macaroons, scones, signature cakes with apt names such as “London to Paris”, King of Sketch” or a very French “Gâteau Chocolat” (the later being a chocolate sponge cake with mousse and passion fruit ganache) as well as finger sandwiches are great options too.

Pu Erh Chinese tea at Parlour

Pu Erh Chinese tea at Parlour

Drinks: From rare coffee, herbal infusions to Jing tea selection of real teas from green to black pu-erh, one can get plenty of energy and youthful antioxidants for an entire day or an afternoon caffeine kick. On a quite chilly cold early spring day I felt  like soothing my bouncy mood with a pot of earthy and balanced pu-erh from China. Its is a speciality from Yunan province that is usually kept and sold in the form of cakes (the tea leaves are rigidly dry and stick together in the form of this cake or a bird’s nest that is actually baked to keep its longevity). Presented in a transparent pot and cup it was pretty, yet I did not have the opportunity to separate the steeped leaves from the water thus the tea got bitter over time. As I do not like to sip my tea too fast , I ended up with a bitter aftertaste after my last sips.

The wine list is done with a wit. I love the drawings above each wine with ties, scarves bows and other possible tops of shirts that a man can have, that probably had stirred the author’s imagination while he was sipping on each wine and drawing each representative of its taste above. The selection is good, yet the gastronomic restaurant above has much wider list that has got the Award of Excellence from WS.

Wine list at Parlour

Wine list at Parlour

Opening hours:

The Parlour: Mon-Fri: 8am – 2am, Sat: 10am – 2am & Sun: 10am – 12am.

The Glade: Mon-Thurs: 1pm-2am, Fri&Sat: 12pm-2am, Sun: 12pm-12am.

The Gallery: Mon-Sat: 6.30pm – 2am, Sun: 6pm – 12am.

Lecture Room & Library: Tues-Sat: Lunch: 12pm-2:30pm, Dinner: 7pm-11pm.

Address: 9 Conduit street, London W1S 2XG, UK.

Contact: Tel: +44 (0) 20 7659 4500

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Cuisine: French gourmet

Visit: July 2012

Price: Very high (main courses around €100, a la carte menu €180 without drinks).

Panoramic view overlooking the bar area with Cap Ferrat at the back

La Chèvre d’Or is a stunning luxurious hotel with perhaps an even more impressive location. Hundreds of tourists browse daily through the medieval Eze village high in the hills above Monaco and Cap Ferrat. Some visitors look for art, other for architecture and there are many who take the challenge of walking on the cobbled stones in nice (ladies high-heels) shoes as they head to La Chèvre d’Or’s gourmet restaurant. No wonder the restaurant attracts so many food connoisseurs. With two stars in the 2012 Michelin guide, panoramic views over the Mediterranean and picturesque Cap Ferrat with yachts cruising around its curves lining the sea, the Chèvre d’Or is on the list of must-dine-at places of many travelers to the French Riviera.

Chef: Fabrice Vulin is not only inventive, but he also creates novelties rewarding your taste buds with complex and enjoyable flavors. In one dish one can find dozens of interpretations of one central idea – be it vegetables or a meat dish.

Amouse bouche from the chef

Ambience:Elegant, romantic and breathtaking views. If you are lucky enough to sit at one of the window tables you will delight in a view that not many restaurants in the world can match. Reserving these tables though might be a tough nut to crack. Unless, you book it weeks ahead, and in high season even months ahead, you will be happy dining at any table in the restaurant as the food is so good. The walls are decorated with unique paintings reminding you that you are in one of the most important art villages in France. Since the restaurant is inside, you do not need to worry about mosquitos, wind or cold night temperatures which you might consider if dining at the hotel’s second, more casual, restaurant – the Eden. No need to wear a robe, but clean well-presenting clothes are appropriate. As you can see, the man on the picture below, got away even with a polo shirt!

Ambience at Le Chevre d'Or gastronomic restaurant

Le Chevre d’Or gastronomic restaurant inside

Food: Complex, unexpected and generous portions for a gastronomic restaurant. Dining at Le Chèvre d’Or does not come cheaply, on the other hand though there ar not many two Michelin-starred restaurants serving satisfying sizes of their portions. I can guarantee you will not leave the restaurant hungry, craving a pizza at a nearby stand. My American friends, who were dining with us, were astonished over their portions “at a French restaurant”. Comparing the dining experience to a Thanksgiving dinner, that was perhaps the highest compliment a restaurant can get.

Already the appetizers overwhelmed our senses with complexity and joy from each bite. The Capunatina d’Aubergineswas just incredible. I cannot remember when I had such an intricate dish, where each mouthful tasted slightly different! Well done Monsieur Vulin, since this was one of the best appetizers in my life. The vegetables, including the chopped aubergine on the base, were interspersed with various herbs, pickled seasonal mushrooms and even tiny piece of a cheese as one bite had revealed. Despite being an adventurous spirit in terms of food, I would order it again, if I went to the Chèvre d’Or.

Capunatina d’Aubergines

Another generous appetizer was Le loup, l’Araignee de mer, le caviar d’Aquitaine. Sea bass with a sea crab and caviar from Aquitaine. Looking like a slice of caviar cake with juicy crab lining, it was a quirky dish, yet so interesting. I wonder how many ingredients the chef had put into this creation. From seafood, vegetable, herbs, sauces and even flowers one could find numerous facets of the white Mediterranean wish, the sea bass, which was the core ingredient. Excellent with champagne or a mineral white wine such as Chablis or Puligny-Montrachet.

Le loup, l’Araignee de mer, le caviar d’Aquitaine

The main courses were no less elaborate. La sole de Méditerranée cooked in papillote (wrapped in baking paper) with Noilly Prat (dry vermouth from South of France) and lasagna aux coquillages(mussels) had a delicate texture enhanced by a creamy sauce with the Noilly Prat vermouth. The small lasagna accompanying the fish were exquisite. With mussels marrying flowers and herbs in one’s mouth, I would exceptionally legalize polygamy in this marriage of three perfectly matching souls. The seasonal mushrooms then were just like a best man to the ceremony of flavors. Assisting with their juicy and rich flavor in the lasagna church filled with mussels, flowers and herbs. The dish was about multiple flavors in a harmonious relationship.

Sole Mediterranee

The meat afficionados might be seduced by a Veau de Corréze. This veal from Corréze is roasted for two people and served with a cassoulet of vegetables, seasonal mushrooms and young potatoes. A portion for a lumberjack will surely not disappoint even the biggest eater and provides enough energy for the entire day. The meat was succulent, delicate and rich in flavor. As the waiter kept bringing small pots with accompanying vegetables, mushrooms and young potatoes, the brows of the two gentlemen kept rising. They have managed it well though, sated and sighting with pleasure.

Veal

With a desert tray approaching our table, I thought I might be the only one succumb to the temptation of the sweet delicacies. The sweet kingdom in front of our eyes seduced all four of us, including the two veal eaters. One forgets quickly how much he ate after seeing something so delicious. I got three pieces – a dark chocolate based one to appease my chocolate addiction, a delicious pistachio creamy sensation with berries and silver leafs, and a tapa-size cookie topped with two fruity layers and a cap of a red strawberry. They were all great, although the pistachio mini cake was my favorite.

The trio of deserts

Drinks: Going local we got a bottle of La Chapelle de Sainte Roseline 2007 Cru Classe, Côtes de Provance. This intense red wine was dominated by Grenache, typical for the South of France, and refreshed with a spicy kick if Syrah. Not an ideal but a fun and enjoyable wine for all of our dishes. The wine list features most of the big players in the wine world, although it is focused on France. I highly recommend to everyone to get an aperitif outside at the bar terrace just below the restaurant. The fresh breeze and sunset with all the colors flashing on the sky guarantee a very special start of your unforgettable dining experience.

Contact: +33(0)4 92 10 66 61

Opening hours and seasonal closure:  Open for lunch and dinner from March 08th until November 24th; closed from November 24th till March.

Address: LA CHÈVRE D’OR – Rue du Barri – 06360 Eze Village, France

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