Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Le Pré Catelan (Paris, FRANCE) ★★★★★

Life has its way of making unexpected turns at times. In 2013, we had our highly anticipated dinner at three Michelin starred Le Pré Catelan cancelled at the very late minute due to an unexpected illness. What we didn't realize was that, it would take us another 5 years before we got another crack at it.

Tucked away from the hustle and bustle of Paris, Le Pré Catelan is about a 10-minute ride from the centre of the city. The restaurant is housed in a beautifully decorated Napoléon III pavilion. Tough to imagine such elegant space used to be a dairy farm a little while ago.

Le Pré Catelan is the flagship fine-dining restaurant of the Lenôtre group, a world-renowned restaurant, catering service, bakery and cooking school empire, which was founded back in 1947. Executive chef Frédéric Anton has been around since 1997 and is responsible for bringing the restaurant from its 1-star status to the ultimate accolade of 3-stars in 2007.

The restaurant offers 3 different menu at lunch these days. For those pressed with time, an express 4-course menu is available at 130 Euros but otherwise, more comprehensive menu with 6 and 8 courses are available at 220 and 280 Euros respectively. The 8-course set meal was the one we went with this afternoon.

Amuse bouche was ready almost as soon as we made up our mind. This consisted of two small nibbles, the first a pumpkin soup on a bed of onion mousse with pumpkin seeds flowing on top and then a small salmon roll with lemon and what I thought was parsley powder.

That was followed by our first starter, a foamy crab bisque with loads of fresh crab meat and some fennel cream served on the side on a spoon.

The second part of our crab themed dish came in a traditional caviar container.

On the bottom of the container was a bit of crème fraîche, followed by a layer of fresh crab meat and crab consommé jelly while they finished it off with a layer of French caviar on top. It was a dish with a great deal of textures and flavors all coming together in perfect harmony. The creaminess of the crème fraîche, the freshness of the crab meat, the sweetness of the crab consommé jelly and of course, the saltiness of the caviar all contributed to this brilliant dish without a single ingredient dominating the others.

The second course of the menu was Japanese pearls (tapioca) "risotto" with mushroom cream and parmesan cheese shaving. There was a thin slice of foie gras on top to give the risotto a bit different texture and flavor.

Next up was cod fish cooked with seaweed and served on creamy butter which has been infused with lime zest. The cod was beautifully cooked with the lovely scent of seaweed further enhancing the depth of flavors. There was a wonderful citrusy kick provided by the lime zest to tie things up. What looked like a pretty simple dish showed the great attention to details by the talented kitchen.

For my meat course, I traded my veal sweetbread away for a slice of roasted vension and what a wonderful trade that turned out to be. The vension was roasted to absolute perfection and meshed so well with the caramelized pistachio (on top), light lime cream and young celery sauce.

Following our meat dish, we were offered a wide range of cheese from different regions of France.

But I was a little stuffed at this point so just a couple thin slabs of goat cheese and Comte cheese did it for me.

A small pre-dessert in the form of a crème brûlée soon followed. 

Dessert was "Le Citron", a lemon themed dessert with lemon cream, lime foam, basil sorbet and meringues (lots of them) all sitting on a crispy biscuit base.

Our server explained this was kind of like a layered lemon tart.

Coming together with our lemon dessert was a tiny little yuzu tart which I took down in one bite.

Next we had a trolley full of sweet canapès including macarons, candies, lollipops and marshmallow.

I got myself a little bit of everything.

I came in with the high expectation that it's going to be a very good meal but I ended up
getting so much more. Not only does this classy French fine-dining restaurant impressed me with its elegantly decorated dining room, the same level of elegance could also be discovered in Chef Anton's cuisine. The cooking was precise and every dish showed off great finesse and top-of-the-class techniques using extraordinary food combinations. I could only wish we were here 5 years ago.

Food Rating: 9/10
Price: €€€€
Address: Route de Suresnes, Bois de Boulogne, 75016 Paris, France
Closest Metro Station: Gare d'Avenue Henri Martin (But I recommend taking a cab or just UBER)
Tel: +33 (0)1 4414-4114

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