L’Astrance, Paris, 9/19/2013
On the way to L’Astrance I could see the full view of Eiffel Tower cross the Seine River. L'Astrance has about no more than 25 seats in a very contemporary setting consistent with its menu of a more modern style of French and Asian fusion.
I chose the lunch tasting menu. Started with Amuse Bouche which had two items: 1).Brioche wafer with egg cream – it doesn’t really taste like brioche. Although flavor wise, it is light and crispy with a very mildly flavored egg cream.
2).Almond wafer with green apple cream – this item has a slight almond flavored taste complemented with the refreshing green apple taste.
Both items have achieved the important function of serving as a wake-up call to your appetite.
The 1st course was their signature dish “Foie Gras and champignons de Paris, lemon confit and hazelnut oil." It was a sandwich layered with multiple layers of sliced green apply, foie gras and sliced Parisian mushroom. It was served with hazelnut oil and candied lemon juice which also served as decoration in the plate. The hazelnut oil and candied lemon juice are two critical ingredients in this dish. When you coated the sandwich with these two enhancements, it delivered a very powerful effect on your palate.
The 2nd course was “Sole with Herb Bed, Tajete, Pineapple foam with Sole and Crab." This course was presented in a large plate and a bowl. In the plate, there was a slice of sole served on a combination of various green herbs. Fish was tender and flavorful. In the bowl, fish chunks and crab meat were served in the pineapple foam with thinly shredded lemon peel. What in the plate and what in the bowl were done with two different style of cooking and with different taste complementary each other. One thing seemed to be clear was Chef like to use citrus for flavoring.
The 3rd course was “Lamb with Miso-flavored Eggplants and Pepper.” The quality of lamb was the best that I have ever had. It was slow roasted with low temperature using 5-month old baby lamb. Its texture is different from the ordinary lamb. Baby lamb is really like melt in your mouth type of meat. This dish, beautifully presented, was accompanied by a bowl of sautéed Paris mushroom and lamb kidney. I would still rate the texture of the baby lamb as the best even after I had the baby lamb dish in another fine dining restaurant.
Palate cleanser - mashed potato with vanilla ice cream. It seemed to be an odd combination, but, again it tasted good.
Then, sorbet with chili pepper, ginger and lemongrass was served. This sorbet was a very amazing creative product. The combination may sound odd, but, the flavor was sensational. After the meal, I found out from the chef that he has created it more than 15 years ago.
Desert – Raspberry and blackberry tart with jasmine.
Rose and raspberry sorbet on iced marsh mellow
Jasmine flavor was powerful but not overwhelming. The berries were very fresh and tasty. I have found out it was rather difficult to find the fresh raspberries as tasty as my home grown ones. But, the berries in this dish were as good as my home grown ones. Rose and Raspberry sorbet, a very good combination, was served on iced marsh mellow to bring a visual contrast.
After the principal plate of desert, server brought over the final course of desert. It had a bowl fresh berries and fruits, Madeline of chocolate and chestnut and eggnog with jasmine. The berries were very fresh and tasty. I have found out it was rather difficult to find the fresh raspberries as tasty as my home grown ones. But, the berries in this dish were as good as my home grown ones. I am not a big fan of eggnog; I was usually tired of drinking it before I even finished it. However, eggnog with jasmine makes the eggnog more refreshing that I actually enjoyed the eggnog for the 1st time.
I was granted the opportunity to visit the kitchen and spoke to the famous chef/owner Pascal Barbot. I had a photo opportunity and found out he is not interested in expanding his operation for quality control concern.