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In a state of hibernation. My backlog has long become unsustainable. Will probably tweet more and write less full-length stuff.

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Sunday
Sep182005

Guy Savoy

So guys, I apologize for the long absence. Had a pretty hectic week here, with 2 papers due plus a friend's birthday. Anyway, I've caught up on the comments you've left so if you were waiting for a reply, go check again. The other reason I've been putting this post off is that I haven't had a chunk of free time long enough to do the whole thing. I'll warn you now... this upcoming post is officially the longest post ever.


guysavoy.jpg

Saturday night was it - the main event of our trip. Dinner for three at Guy Savoy, a Michelin three star, and the first three star meal of my life. My grandma, grandaunt, and two cousins were staying behind on this one so that my dad, aunt and I could go the distance with Savoy's biggest tasting menu. It's a menu I'd been studying for a couple of weeks already, since the planning stages of our trip. The "Textures et Saveurs" menu has 11 courses, and costs 285 euros per head, easily making it the most expensive meal that's ever gone into my belly. You can imagine how excited I was to go. I mean, how much better could it get than the meals I'd already had?

So at about 8PM, I put on my suit and tie and off we were. A quick cab ride later, we were there. It's a fairly inconspicuous place from the outside. A dark, wooden front with simple sans-serif letters are all that you can see, along with a doorman. Inside, the place doesn't look that big. It doesn't have the grand ceilings or open space of the other restaurants. Actually, the restaurant has an extremely modern design throughout, a shocking contrast to the flashy Baroque grandeur of Le Meurice the night before. Dark, sleek woods, contemporary furniture, and a variety of interesting art decorate the interior.

The place is actually divided into several different smaller rooms. The host led us to our table, which is in a smallish room in the back. On the way we passed Danny DeVito getting ready for his dinner, in a room across the restaurant from ours. Our room had 4 tables, populated by an American couple, a French couple, and a big group of some 8 or 10 Americans. The French couple, at the table next to us, appeared to be VIP, as Guy Savoy came out several times during the night and had extended conversations with them. We at least got to watch. I decided rather quickly that despite the amazing Le Meurice dining room, I felt a lot more comfortable in Guy Savoy. I really dug the cool, minimalist decor and atmosphere. I guess most people my age would...

foie gras and sourdough toast Literally the moment we sat down, we were brought these little single-bite skewers of foie gras with toasted sliced sourdough. Delicious - I started getting really hungry. We didn't have to think for long as we already knew we were getting the big dog dégustation.

chopped cauliflower and broccoli with tomato gaspacho, tomato stuffed with goat cheese Soon came this first cold amuse, a refreshing tomato broth with a healthy-tasting dose of veggies. The bite-sized cherry tomato with goat cheese was hidden under the right cover thing. A very solid start.

l'huître en nage glacée Next came one of Savoy's signature dishes, and the first listed item on the menu. This is simply an oyster sitting in an icy gelée of its own juices. You guys know I'm not big on oysters, but I really liked this a lot. I've never had anything that tasted quite so much like the sea before. The oyster lovers must be drooling at this one.

lobster, crusty and soft, raw and cooked, sauce made from its juices, snap peas, spring onion This one looks beautiful, doesn't it? This was the next listed dish, lobster served in a variety of ways. In the center is a lobster tartare, split in half by some kind of crunchy lobster 'cracker', if that makes any sense. Around the side are pieces of perfectly-cooked, tender lobster meat. The drizzled sauce had a hint of sweetness to it, as did the tartare. The snap peas and onions added a refreshing crunch. I freakin' loved this.

small peas served all ways This little spoon wasn't listed on our tasting menu, but it was an item on the regular menu as well as the summer tasting. It had some pea puree, peas, pea sauce and a small bit of egg yolk. Boy, did it taste as green as it looked. It was the most intense bite of pea flavor I've ever experienced, and I definitely enjoyed it. I doubt I could eat a whole plate of the stuff though, which is what the French woman who ordered it a la carte was doing right next to us. One spoonful was perfect.

colors of caviar This dish was pretty cool. It came out without the top layer, and displayed a generous amount of caviar at the top in all its glory. The bottom two layers are cream and pea puree. After a quick 'oooh', the waiter poured on the top layer of sabayon which kind of hid the caviar. When eaten together, the ingredients created a delicate balance of creaminess, veggie-ness, and saltiness. It actually had a similar feeling to the cauliflower panna cotta with caviar that I had at French Laundry a few weeks later - I'll write more about that in a while. Very good stuff.

'chop' of fat turbot with egg and spinach sprouts... Another pretty dish - this time just a simple, delicate piece of turbot with a beautifully-poached egg and some raw spinach. The waiter drizzled some very good olive oil on top. The fish was moist, tender, but still full of texture. As we ate, we wondered - why the hell are there holes in our plate? Is that just to look cool? Meanwhile, the valuable yolk and olive oil seemed to be falling through.

turbot part 2 - the soup underneath! And when the three of us finished our pieces of fish, the answer was revealed. Our plate was actually two pieces - the holes were just a cover for this bowl, which had a turbot consommé, potatoes and spinach in it. The egg yolk and olive oil had dripped through. After lifting off the cover, the waiter also added some more pieces of turbot, explaining that these are different cuts of meat that come from the side of the fish. This fired on every cylinder. The broth was delicious, still very hot, with a strong flavor from the fish and the olive oil. The fish itself did taste a bit different - a little fattier, I'd say. The soup was actually in the description on our menu, we'd just forgot about it when we got the first part of the dish. This one gets 68 billion style points.

roasted duck foie gras with a red cabbage nage, horseradish puree and mustard The requisite foie gras course this time was pretty unusual. Instead of some kind of sweet fruit, it came with a red cabbage sauce, which added an interesting sweet/bitter element to it. The mustard and horseradish gave it a bit of kick. The foie itself was, of course, excellent. Pretty unusual take on a regular item.

artchike soup with black truffles with a mushroom and truffle brioche This is Guy Savoy's major signature dish. My dad had been hyping it up, claiming that he doesn't even like artichokes but can't get enough of this. It didn't disappoint. I actually do like artichokes, and soup had heaps of artichoke taste (like my Aussie speak?). The truffles and cheese added some variety. The brioche (way in the back) was soft, flaky, and pretty much heavenly.

all-veal Finally came our main dish, a variety of veal. The bottom was a braised veal shank with parsnip puree, followed by a filet on the left. The top was a lightly-breaded sweetbread. On the right is a kidney, and the center is a fried tongue and some girolle mushrooms. I'd say in my order of preference went sweetbread, filet, shank, kidney, tongue. The tongue was a little bit weird for me, to be honest. It was fried and had a sort of chewy texture. But I loved the four others. The kidney had a great distinct kidney flavor. The shank was meltingly tender, though slightly underseasoned. The filet was simple but well-executed. The sweetbread was masterful - a perfect balance of crispy breading and delicious, almost creamy gland.

red fruit moelleux I apologize again for stupidly forgetting to take a picture of my cheese. Just believe me that I had some and it was good, but not really anything you haven't seen yet. Now, the first in a barrage of desserts - this was one of the 3 listed on the menu. I'm not sure how to translate 'moelleux', but it's a sort of soft but semi-solid puree. From left to right, they were blackcurrant, raspberry and strawberry. It was quite refreshing, and a neat, steady progression from sour to sweet.

blackcurrant with pistachio, madeleine, wrapped raspberry These things were good but less memorable. Pretty much tasted like a blackcurrant and a raspberry. The madeleine was definitely good, but not quite as impressive as the bigger ones we had at Le Meurice.

cerise à l'exotique I thought this had a cool French name. The second listed dessert, this so-called exotic-style cherry was actually pretty complicated: cherry gelée with lychee sorbet, cherry chips, and aloe vera. This was my favorite dessert of the night - cool, refreshing, sweet, and very inventive. The cherry gelée and lychee matched together perfectly, while the jello-like aloe vera balanced out the sweetness.

chocolate disc with tonka bean, cocoa sorbet Our final listed course, this deep, rich chocolate was flavored with tonka bean. I had no idea what a tonka bean was at the time - apparently, it's a South American bean that is sometimes used to flavor alcohol and cigarettes, and has a taste like tobacco. That didn't really occur to me - it tasted like chocolate and chocolate mousse/cream to me.

earl grey tea sorbet The menu was over, but stuff kept coming. This one was another winner. A light tea flavor to cleanse the palate a bit. This and the jasmine crème brûlée we had at Capelongue made for a high success rate with tea-based desserts.

lemon marshmallow, chocolate mousse What were we cleansing our palate for? Well... At Guy Savoy, after you finish dinner, they apparently come around with a frickin' DESSERT CART stocked with all kinds of goodies for you to pick and choose. Candies, mousses, ice creams - all kinds of stuff. I started off with a lemon marshmallow - fluffy and citrusy. Then I eyed their jar of chocolate mousse, which was creamy and delicious.

vanilla and toffee ice cream As our waiter introduced all the stuff on the cart, I sort of embarassingly asked how many I could pick. He told me as many as I wanted, so of course I tried all kinds of stuff. The ice creams were great. You can see the specks of vanilla bean, and believe me you could taste it. The toffee was like Haagen Daaz dulce de leche on steroids. Amazing caramel flavor, but not too sweet. I also got an apricot macaroon that came out blurry - it was good too.

And that was it. 18 courses, and the most expensive meal of my life. Was it the best meal I've ever had? Well, I feel pretty safe saying it's the best Western meal I've ever had, but I can't really compare it to Asian food. Needless to say, this was extremely satisfying. And though the three of us were extremely full, we never felt disgustingly stuffed. I don't know how considering the quantity of food.

How did Guy Savoy rate compared to the other meals? Well, the third star clearly meant something. The service was just out of this world - a perfect balance of professionalism and friendliness. My dad noted that despite what you might first expect, the service is not at all stiff, snobby or condescending. Our waiters were genuinely interested in our having a good meal. It sounds cheesy, but it was a noticeable difference. One of our main waiters was a Nordic-looking but very French guy, who perfectly skirted the line between being a classy professional and being your best friend. When we chatted with him he'd joke about people never think he looks French, which doesn't get him a ton of respect in the restaurant biz.

The teamwork that went on throughout the night was seamless. To be honest, we didn't have to ask for a single thing during our 4 hours there, and I mean that literally. I stood up to go to the bathroom, and before I was completely upright, one of the floorpeople had already read my mind, walked up to me, and offered to show me the way. It was an eye-opening experience.

Anything negative about the meal? Well, for one, I'd say it isn't completely fair to compare this meal with the others because we didn't have the big dog tasting menu anywhere else. Secondly, the bathroom that I was led to was a bit on the small side. That's about it... I hope I've recounted the experience well enough. Out of curiosity, I just did a word count of this post and it's longer than both of the papers I had to write for this week.

I'm now officially way behind on my posting, like I am after every summer... It's seriously like a month and a half delay now. I have a few more France meals to post about, a bunch of SF and Vancouver meals, and then finally some Sydney stuff. I'm honestly afraid that I might not catch up though. :P

 

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Reader Comments (9)

Wow. I feel like this post should have a soundtrack... :) It was gripping! The turbot part 2 was a twist I wasn't expecting.
Monday, September 19, 2005 at 6:34AM | Unregistered Commentererin
Man oh man what a beautiful meal. Thanks for sharing it. I was just in Paris too and I'm really glad I hadn't read this until I left. Otherwise, I would have had no way of resisting.
Sunday, September 25, 2005 at 8:41PM | Unregistered CommenterLonesome Hero
What can I say, guys... this was probably the best Western meal of my life.
Sunday, October 16, 2005 at 3:42AM | Unregistered CommenterArthur Che
OH my gosh.. i am in heaven. this entry is wonderful, the photos speak for themselves and your descriptions are practical without being over-the-top food porn-y. i am so glad to have finally discovered your site, three years in. congrats!
Thursday, November 3, 2005 at 1:51AM | Unregistered Commenteralecia
Thanks for visiting, Alecia. Always glad to help. :)
Monday, November 7, 2005 at 11:09PM | Unregistered CommenterArthur Che
According to the Caesars Palace website www.caesarspalace.com Guy Savoy will be opening a restaurant at the hotel soon.
Friday, January 6, 2006 at 1:23AM | Unregistered CommenterMyron
Yup... I really need to make a trip to Vegas. All the big name chefs seem to have a restaurant there now...
Sunday, January 8, 2006 at 12:48PM | Unregistered CommenterArthur Che
I'm reading Chelminski's bio of Bernard Loiseau and wondered what a 3-star dinner consists of, and looks like. This is a big help. Thanks.
Friday, June 30, 2006 at 10:27AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn D.
Glad to help, John.
Saturday, July 15, 2006 at 10:38PM | Unregistered CommenterArthur Che

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