Saturday, March 27, 2010

L'Astrance at La Scala, Sukhothai Hotel

Once upon a time, it was a Sunday in Paris and no good restaurants are open on Sundays in Paris. However; we did find one and it turned out to be one of the most amazing & memorable dinners we ever had. The restaurant is called L'Astrance. The time was the year 2000, when we ate at L'Astrance in Paris's 16th arrondissement, but the restaurant already had won a one Michelin star. At that time, we were very lucky to get a table in short notice. Skip to today...L'Astrance has three Michelin stars and takes about two months to reserve in advance to get a table here, as it seats just 26, but it's definitely worth the effort.

So to our delight; when we heard that Pascal Barbot (the youngest chef ever to own a 3 Michelin Star restaurant) and Christophe Rohat, the chef and maitre d' were coming to the Sukhothai Hotel to cook for several days. We reserved a table right away. Luckily we did because the dinner was fully reserved in a couple of days. That is how famous chef Pascal & L'Astrance is. It was not the cheapest dinner to reserve. We had to pay in advance to get the confirmation for the table. It cost 10,000 baht per person...OUCH!

The dinner was held at La Scala (normally, the fine dining Italian restaurant). The decor of La Scala is modern Asian with browns, blacks, beiges with a hint of red. The main materials are wood, steel and stone. The outcome is a dramatic ambiance with low lit lighting.

Chef Pascal closed his restaurant in Paris and brought practically his entire team to cook. Luckily at La Scala the open kitchen is at the center of the restaurant. So, we saw all the action and energy from the team from Paris with the help of the Thai team.

The first dish was pistacchio cracker with praliné and apple white truffle cream with brioche. Very nicely presented. If you have ever had communion then you would understand the texture of the pistacchio cracker. It was light and paper thin with a slight hint of pistacchio taste. The apple truffle cream with brioche was light, creamy with a slight hint of apple.

The next dish was one of L'Astrance's famous dishes; the mushroom tart & foie gras marinated in green grape juice, roasted lemon paste. The presentation of this dish was amazing. It was layer and layer of goodies. The dish looked like a pie; but in close inspection, the tart dough turns out to be very thinly sliced mushrooms, then the next layer was fois gras, then mushroom, then apple, then mushroom, etc. The combination of flavours and textures was stunning!

The next dish was jumbo langoustine consommé, fresh herbs flowers from Chiang Mai. The bowl with the jumbo langoustine first arrived, then the waiters with the consommé arrived and slowly poured it into the bowl. This dish had a mix revue; the texture of the langoustine was mushy, either it was not fresh or the restaurant got bad quality langoustine. However; the consommé was rich in flavour.

The next dish was green asparagus, bergamote and almond dressing. My friends were not impressed with this dish; especially when they prefer white asparagus. However; I did not mind this dish since I know some of the most difficult dishes to make are the most simple ones. A plate of green asparagus could have been inspiring; but indeed there was a certain element missing with this dish. The asparagus was bland, but the bergamote and almond dressing did add some interesting flavours to the dish.

The next dish was sautéed Dover sole, coconut condiment, pomelo and red capsicum. The fish was very fresh, it was cooked perfectly and the coconut, pomelo and red capsicum added fantastic flavours to the fish dish.

The next dish was black truffle velouté, celeriac and melted parmesan. The mix of black truffle, celeriac and parmesan was a great combination. The velvety texture, rich and creamy also made this a great dish.

The only wine of its kind in the world; the Trelans, a blend of Vermentino & Chenin, was magnificent, flamboyant with ripe white fruit…incredibly complex, the nose was equally splendid, full, rounded, welcoming to the mouth. It is quite simply an amazing wine.

The next dish was Challans duck, black curry and glazed miso eggplant. The duck had a lovely texture, was moist & juicy. Cooked perfectly and tasted very nice. The duck was accompanied with a miso eggplant and it was was amazing. The eggplant was soft & velvety and the miso added a flavourful element to it.

The red wine was a 2002 Chambolle-Musigny Premier Cru, Domaine Comte Georges de Vogue. A 2002, but was drinking well, red fruits (red currant and raspberry) with delicate floral. Full on the palate with a touch of minerality. There was hints of citrus as well running through the wine.

The next dish was chili sorbet. We do seldom like sorbets to break up the dinner. We know it is suppose to clean the palete and get you ready for dessert. However; we are still drinking wines and due to the coldness of the sorbet, it closes the taste buds and we cannot taste our wine anymore. Anyways, I did take a taste of the sorbet and the chili was a very nice touch and flavour to be used in sorbet. A nice kick to the taste buds.

The next dish was coffee-almond tiramisu. This was a very nice dessert; creamy, thick, rich and velvety. The coffe and almond flavours were very apparent and a good combination.

The next dish was dark chocolate biscuit ‘gaufrette’. Just looking at this dessert made me gain several kilos and my cholesterol. But, it looked amazingly good & tasty. After the first bite, I was not wrong in thinking how good this dessert would be. Absolute heaven.

The next dish was petit vacherin, honey ice cream and cocoa. The honey ice cream was really yummy. We all got different designed desserts. One of the example is above with very colourful flowers.

The final dish was madeleine of chestnut honey jasmin eggnog ‘Lait de Poule’. The eggnog was refreshing and light but tasty and it went nicely with the madeleines.

Overall; the experience was nice...but, we were a bit disappointed with some of the dishes. Maybe we hyped up the dinner too much that we were expecting nothing but perfection. In the end, that is not what we got. I talked to two other friends who went to the L'Astrance dinner at different dates and they gave me the same reply. I have to admit that the 2 Star Micheline promotion at La Scala with chef Edouard Loubet several weeks before was much more outstanding in terms of experience and taste. In the end, if we want to experience the pure genius of chef Pascal Barbot, then we better go to L'Astrance in Paris.

13/3 South Sathorn Rd.
Silom / Sathorn Bangkok 10120 Thailand

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