L’Ambroisie:The Most Classic 3-star in Paris

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One of my most memorable gastronomic meals in 2017.

Three-star Michelin restaurants in Paris can be briefly divided into two categories: the modern classic and the innovative (think: Pierre Gagnaire).  It is known that to qualify for the elusive three stars, a restaurant must serve up “exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey.”  

L’Ambroisie, being awarded 3-star longest in history among all in Paris, is quite a classic example of the modern classics in many ways.  The chef — Benard Pacaud — opened the restaurant in the romantic Place es Vosges in 1968, and obtained his first Michelin 3-star in 1988 with his refined classical cooking style.  

回顧2017,最印象深刻的一餐, 非 L’Ambroisie 莫屬。

巴黎的米芝蓮三星級餐廳可分為兩大類:現代經典餐廳和創新餐廳(例如 Pierre Gagnaire)。眾所周知,米芝蓮的評分準則向來難以捉摸 — 獲得一星的餐廳表示在同類別裡出眾;二星代表廚藝高明、值得繞道前往;三星代表餐廳料理出類拔萃、值得專程造訪。故言之,餐廳必須提供「值得你去朝聖的美食」,才有機會登上這個最高級別的寶座。 

L’Ambroisie 為巴黎米芝蓮三星級餐廳的最長紀錄保持者。廚師 Benard Pacaud 於1968年在浪漫的孚日廣場開創這家餐廳,開業短短兩年,以其精煉的的烹飪風格於 1988 年獲得了他的第一個米芝蓮三星。

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Started with a welcome drink Dom Ruinart Blanc De Blancs 2004.  

While the Michelin rating solely focuses on the food quality and consistency of the standard, the overall service here is super professional and seamless, you would see senior sommelier and waiters (aka experienced and knowledgeable) serving in the restaurant, which is not always the case for every 3-star and 2-star.

Tips: For a complete experience, I would humbly let the sommelier suggest and learn from his suggestions.

點菜前先來杯 2004 年 Dom Ruinart Blanc De Blancs。

被安排坐在華麗的大廳正中央,進場的時候,侍應生不曾拋出額外的笑容,或許會帶給人一種冷漠與距離感,但其實他們都是經驗豐富的老手,整體服務非常專業到位、無縫。雖然米芝蓮評級的主要關鍵在於食品的質量與穩定性,但未必每間三星級或二星級餐廳也能提供如此高水準的服務素質。

 

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The most memorable amuse-bouche in my 2017 dining experiences- Crunchy cheese Kugelhopf Brioche with a soft center. It did not look that convincing the moment it was put onto the table, provided that I am not a bread fanatic, and have been spoiled with how most restaurants would make an impression with edgy presentations.

2017年最難忘的前菜 — 外酥內軟的奶酪 Kugelhopf Brioche。

Soft boiled egg with golden caviar and vichyssoise with fennel, served with toast soldiers.

水煮蛋搭配黃金魚子醬、小茴香奶油濃湯,伴吐司條。

另一個餐前小菜,仿照法國傳統家庭式食法 — 吐司條蘸水煮蛋。第一口嚐下去鮮甜無比,蛋的火候控制得恰到好處。我的食伴是一同就讀高級餐飲文化的同學,所以我們對食材都比較執著,於是好奇向侍應生詢問材料及來源,沒想到因而成為破冰的話題,侍應生連連往返廚房,拿出雞蛋、及專用的生熟探針向我們介紹,逐漸熱情起來。

 

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Here comes the signature dish — langoustine tails resting between feather-light sesame seed tuiles, over a bed of spinach, with a very mild curry sauce.  Everything perfectly executed, elevating the dish beautifully.

小龍蝦配上芝麻脆片、菠菜 — 質感對比強烈,卻不浮誇。溫和的咖喱汁輕輕提升鮮味,盤上的一切優雅地平衡著,細緻感透出廚師的功力之厚。

 

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Moments of Burgundy in perfect harmony with the main — Escalopines de bar à l’émincé d’artichaut, nage réduite au caviar golden (seabass and artichokes over a golden caviar white sauce).

The caviar used here has a real gastronomic purpose to elevate the flavor of the overall dish and not just as a nice-to-have expensive garnish on the plate. The fish was well timed and the mild artichokes paired well with the sauce. The caviar got a strong fishy flavor by themselves.  With a sip of the Corton Charlemagne picked by the sommelier, they brought out each other’s creaminess.

Tips: French people appreciate people who show curiosity in things they are proud of.  My way to learn from the insiders is to ask questions.  It goes without saying that 3-star restaurants in France would select high quality ingredients, I queried about the source of the caviar. To my surprise, they were farmed Oscietra caviar from China – caviar farms in China are considered as some of the finest in the world.

餐廳的經典名菜 — 鱸魚和朝鮮薊配上黃金魚子醬。這裡使用的魚子醬,提高了整體菜餚的風味,而不僅僅是作為盤子上昂貴的裝飾。初時吃著隱隱覺有腥味,但酒的味道可將其消除及中和,兩者完美和諧地融為一體。

令我驚訝的是,魚子醬原來出產自中國 — 在中國養殖的 Oscietra 魚子醬,比起俄羅斯魚子醬少了鹹味、清淡一些。心中不免疑惑,法國殿堂級餐廳為何會選用中國魚子醬,是味道抑或是成本的抉擇?引發我隨後再深究中國魚子醬。

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Divine dessert moments in 2017 — Tarte fine sablée au cacao amer, crème glacée à la vanille Bourbon (flourless chocolate tart with a crunchy base paired with Ron Centenario Gran Reserva 25 Year Old Rum). 

Out of the world chocolate tart that was extraordinarily light, the soft and creamy chocolate filling was rich yet not heavy and without a shocking deep flavor, balanced by the impeccable vanilla ice cream.  Absolute pleasure in purest form, no adornment was added. 

No dessert wine but an aged rum from Costa Rica that was the best rum I have ever tasted- complex, rich, and elegant. It must be enjoyed by itself (not for mixing drinks) and worked really well with the chocolate tart- the pairing was divine, they did not kill the taste of each other.  A good surprise in its simpliest way.

I did not read any review on the food nor checked out any food shots prior to my experience at L’Ambroisie to avoid biased opinions, only later to find out this heavenly chocolate cake is iconic and a must try.

看似平平無奇的朱古力撻,其實是鎮店之寶。無麵粉朱古力撻,灑上可可粉,搭配雲尼拿雪糕。為避免有偏見,事前沒有閱讀過任何有關 L’Ambroisie 的食品評論,相信味蕾就是忠誠的反映,而這個標誌性的朱古力蛋糕無疑是一大重點推介。

內層的黑朱古力慕斯口感綿密細滑、香濃而不沉重;加上鬆脆的撻底,層次感非常豐富,柔軟極輕 — 似是把一陣風放入口中,滋味無窮。直至今時今日仍然是心目中最無可挑剔的朱古力撻。

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Cap: 未有機會打聽他的名字,不過應該是傳聞中三十多年來沒離開過餐廳的 Restaurant Director Pascal Vetaux。他不慍不火的笑容背後,其實非常熱情好客。

The dishes at this longest running 3-star restaurant in Paris are composed of a synergistic backbone of two or three ingredients which define the dish with an aim to bring out the very best of the luxury ingredients used, in a pure form of French cooking.

在 L’Ambroisie,不論賣相、擺盤或菜色,款款經典簡潔,廚師以純粹的法國烹飪方式,發揮出每種頂尖食材的極致。作為焦點的主菜地位清晰,沒有多餘的配菜,亦從不賣弄新派的豪邁花俏,或為迎合時代飲食潮流而改變,顯然與市場上其他當紅餐廳不同。

這裡只提供單點菜單 (À la carte),沒有任何 degustation menu 招牌套餐,所以 lunchtime 或 dinner 前去均可。

 

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