Thursday, December 30, 2010

Restaurant de Lauzun (Gignac, France)

The only one starred Michelin restaurant in our area is the Restaurant de Lauzun. The chef is Matthieu de Lauzun; the young chef received his first star after his restaurant was opened a few months. That is an amazing accomplishment. We are so glad to have such a talented chef in our area.

Chef Mattheiu just came back from doing a one week and very successful food promotion at the Pullman Hotel Bangkok. All the female journalist were swooning over his good looks, while foodies were impressed with his culinary talents.

We wanted to say hello to the chef and check if he had a good trip back to France. So, we decided to have lunch at Restaurant de Lauzun.

The restaurant is located in the town of Gignac which is next a 15 minute drive from ours.

We all took the 'Menu Decouverte' at 41 euros; which included amuse-bouche, starter, main dish, dessert and mignardises.

The amuse-bouche was a spring roll of prawns and a pumpkin soup. The prawns were fresh, plump and tasty. The soup was hot, thick, rich & so good.

The starter was deep fried Tête de veau. This is one of my favourite dishes from chef Matthieu. The tête de veau was deep fried to a dark brown, they were so crispy on the outside but one bite into them and we discovered a world of tender, moist and juicy tête de veau. The sauce of beetroot added the acidity & sweetness to the the dish. Simply scrumptious.

My main dish was Lotte. The lotte fish was so fresh and cooked perfectly. The lotte was accompanied with spinach, creamed potatoes and a light sauce. All worked well together.

My first friends main dish was Cod. The cod was thick, fresh and cooked perfectly. The fish was accompanied with spinach and creamed potatoes. A simple fish but cooked into something wonderful.

This amazing dish was not on the menu...the chef was very kind to add this dish into our menu. A ravioli stuffed with mushrooms. The mushrooms gave out so much was incredibly yummy.

The pre-dessert was an icy Mango soup & sorbet. A nice way to have a break from our main course and prepare for our dessert. The mango was in two different textures and gave out such an intense flavour.

Our very friendly lunch companion...Archie the 13 year old yellow labrador.

The first dessert was Poached pear. The poached pear was devine; it was not so sweet (which is a good thing).

The second dessert was Lychees with chocolate. Who would have thought that fresh lychee and chocolate were a good paring but it worked out and tasted lovely.

The petite gourmandises...Bell pepper chocolates and jellies. At first, we were skeptical about bell pepper with chocolate....we were right. It was not a favourite at our table. OK, maybe we were biased since my friend is allergic to bell peppers. Oops.

Overall; an amazing lunch...the food was great balance of flavours & textures as well as colours and presentation. The food is thought out, cleverly put together and cooked perfectly. Really really really delicious. At 41 euros; the quality & ratio is a great treat. Can't wait to see what the Spring/ Summer menu will taste like.

3, bd de l’Esplanade,
34150 Gignac
Tél.: 04 67 57 50 83

Monday, December 27, 2010

Le Jardin des Sens (Montpellier, France)

Every time we are in the south of France; we always decide to celebrate the holidays with a lunch at the two starred Michelin restaurant in Montpellier...Le Jardin des Sens. This famous restaurant is owned and run by the very famous twin brothers...Jacques & Laurent Pourcel.

We were amazed that the restaurant was packed packed packed for lunch; the demand was so high, that they had to open the private meeting room as well. We were smart to make a reservation in advance. Though it was after Christmas; people were still in the mood for a big holiday lunch. The menu déjeuner 45 euro which includes 1 glass of wine, is such a bargain and I think that is why the place was packed.

To start our lunch were some hot amuse-bouche.

The next amuse-bouch were deep fried Tête de veau.

The next amuse-bouch was Avocado mousse.

The next amuse-bouche was Soupe de potiron.

My starter was Le Trio de fois grad de canard : side of a tartlette with candied onions and an emulsion of mushrooms and jarrett de boeuf.

My friend's starter was L'assiette autour de la Méditerranée : tartar of St. Jaques, rouelle of calamari and grilled rouget fillet.

My main dish was La ballottine de poulet fermier : purée of chestnut, galette of gambas on a bed of spinach.

My friend's main dish was Le filet de cabillaud en four : croûte de tomate, vegetables with thyme and an emulsion of fennel.

Les gourmandises.

The dessert of the day was fresh raspberries on a short bread with mango ice cream & sauce.

Overall; the food was very good & the presentation of each dish was beautiful, the service as usual was efficient & friendly and the atmosphere was pleasant. The price & quality ratio is out of this world with the 45 euro lunch menu.

The only complaint that I can think of was that for an establishment like this one; the service personnel's uniform standards needs to be uplifted. For example; black shoes that were not shined and looked as if the staff went on a hike with their work shoes, or uniforms that were ill fitting, unironed or stained were signs of management not taking care of paying attention. I know this might be petty or that I pay too much attention to detail; but for a two starred Michelin establishment, not only does the food have to be delicious & perfect but there has to be other standard that needs match the food as well.

11 Avenue Saint-Lazare
34000 Montpellier
Tel.: 04 99 58 38 38

Friday, December 24, 2010

Bigarrade (Paris, France)

We tried two times this year to get a reservation for 'THE' restaurant in Paris right now. Oh; did I mention 'THE' restaurant of Paris right now? We actually first tried in January 2010 for a table in April...not possible, we tried in May for a table in September...not possible. So; we thought why not try again and get turned down again. We were used to it...but we got a shock! La Bigarrade called us and said that our reservation for lunch was confirmed. Yeeepeeeee!!!

Le Bigarrade restaurant in Paris’ Batignolles quarter is an example of the excitement that happens when an accomplished chef, in this case Christophe Pele, leaves the nest, the Royal Monceau, to risk opening his own restaurant with a new team and stamped with his own personality (

The tiny, colourful room has just 20 seats, each one with a view of the open kitchen where chef Pele creates his gastronomic market-led, inspiration-led cuisine that offers the diner no choice except to enjoy.

This 2-Star Michelin award-winner is standing out amongst the all-stars as Paris’s chef to watch. Yet with all the buzz of this restaurant; it is actually a cozy, easy-going and comfy place to dine. There were no jet-setters, hi-so or fashionistas the day we came for lunch. There were just people who looked liked they knew they were in a treat at a restaurant that offers incredibly well-priced lunch menu that include 12 dishes (65 euros).

Of course we took the menu but we also splurged and took the Wine menu (35 euros). We never drink for lunch; but the wines looked really good, so we could not resist.

The first slate that came out was home baked focaccia with olive oil. The focaccia was so so, but the olive oil was spicy & flavourful.

The first amuse bouche was Deep fried soft shell crab. Nicely deep fried to a dark golden brown. The crab was slightly crispy on the outside and very tender & hot inside. We then had to suck on the grilled line with a pinch of rock salt. A lovely starter.

The next dish was Oyster wrapped with speck and a Squash soup. The soup was rich & creamy and full of flavour. The oyster with the speck was unusual but it actually worked. The blend sea saltiness with land saltiness as well as the the blend of textures was clever. Oh, it also tasted yummy.

The next dish was Miso soup soba noodles & white truffle. The miso was very light in flavour (not a good thing) and the white truffle was not even recognisable. A good try though.

The next dish was St. Jacque with raw cauliflower & anchovy. The scallops were so fresh and cooked perfectly. I loved the raw cauliflower on top with the anchovy. Sometimes; just the basic & little things like this makes dishes stand out so much more.

The next dish was Abalone with shitake mushrooms. We seldom get abalone on a French menu. So this was a treat. The abalone was fresh and full of flavour. The shitake mushrooms added texture and flavour.

The next dish was St. Pierre with a hare bouillon. The fish was cooked perfectly and the interesting & unique hare bouillon went so well with the fish. Who would have thought that fish & hare actually were a perfect match.

The next dish was Pork belly on top spinach with hazelnuts with a tuna mustard. The pork was so tender, juicy & tasted great. But what was the subject of discussion was the sheet of tuna mustard. It was unusual, it was salty and it was interesting.

The next dish was a cheese platter. The cheeses were of very good quality, they had good texture and tasted really good.

The medley of pre-desserts: Lychee truffle & apple, Panacota celery, Mandarin mushroom and Coffee Beetroot. This was the first time we had a blend of vegetable & fruit dessert. I thought this was a very clever way to bridge the main meal and lead into the main desserts. The desserts were a brilliant idea of savoury with sweet, exotic with basic or colour & texture. These for sure were not the everyday desserts we are used to. I actually enjoyed the blend of tastes, flavours and textures.

The main desserts were ginger spiced cake, chocolate cake & ice-cream. The desserts were a combination of textures and tastes. The chef was still being clever by making sure our tastes buds were excited until the very end.

Dacquoise cakes filled with framboise & cream to go with the coffee. These cakes that look like macaroons but were so much better. They were more moist, soft & flavourful. A heavenly treat.

Overall; absolutely amazing, wonderful & delicious. The concept was very clever. The restaurant almost forces every table to arrive at the restaurant around 12:30 - 13:00 (no later than that)! The reason is quite you have seen by the photos; the chef wants to co-ordinate & have the precision of time for the cooking and serving of the many dishes. Any table that arrives later than than that will of course ruin the flow & harmony of the service.

The lunch lasted four hours...yes, you read right...four delicious hours. One beautiful dish after another kept coming out with a different glass of wine to accompany it, we never wanted it to stop. Due to the longevity and pacing of the lunch..with all that food & wine; we did not feel 'stuffed' or drunk. What a perfect lunch.

The total bill came to 259 euros (two menu midi at 130 euros, eau minérale at 7 euros, two verre de vin at 20 euros - yes, we drink a lot -, accords mets & vins at 90 euros and two cafe at 12 euros). Not bad at all for the quality but for sure the experience. Hope we can get a reservation in the near future!

106, rue Nollet
75017 Paris
Tel.: 01 42 26 01 02

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Les Cocottes (Paris, France)

We read about the 'in', the 'hip' and the 'happening' place to eat in Paris right now...and it is Les Cocottes. Here is a quick description from"The place was opened by the famous Christian Constant; who has already proved his ability to relate to the Parisian masses with his highly popular bistro Le Café Constant and Le Violon d’Ingres brasserie."

His winning streak continues with Les Cocottes, in the same street as his three other successful restaurants (including Les Fables de la Fontaine, a seafood bistro). We are going to try them all for sure.

The concept is simple: diners choose a high seat along the long counter and mix-and-match from a menu of salads, soups, verrines, cocottes and savory tarts. No reservations are taken, but you can be in and out within 45 minutes (which is the idea). We knew that the place would be packed with office workers and tourists. So we came to the restaurant late; around 14:00 and the place was about half full so we got two places right away. Last order is 15:00 (which is very very rare & unique in Paris) and the restaurant closes at 16:00 (another rarity in Paris). So, the secret is to arrive after the lunch crowd.

The first starter was Terrine de campagne (8 euros). The terrine had very nice textures (rough, smooth, chunks, etc.). The terrine had the perfect balance spices & loads of flavours. It went perfectly with the toasted baguette.

The second starter was Entree du jour...Ballantine de pheasant (9 euros). This terrine was a great blend of the pheasant and fois gras in the middle, giving this dish a lovely consistency and taste.

The first main dish was Cocotte Boeuf bourguignon (16 euros). The beef was so tender, juicy and tasted wonderful. The pastas that accompanied the beef was cooked perfectly and soaked up the tasty sauce.

The second starter was Cocotte du jour...Tranche de porc (15 euros). Another great looking dish; however, when my friend tasted the pork and mashed potato, he noticed that it was on the cold side. So, he asked the waiter if it was possible to heat up the dish. He said no problem. But it did turn out to be a problem!

We waited for a bloody 30 minutes for the dish to be re-heated. No one even payed attention to this; it was us who finally had to ask if the dish was actually going to come out again. The waiter went to check in the kitchen; he came back out and told us it was taking so long because they were making a new dish.

OK.....the 'new' dish finally came out in five minutes and the supposedly 'new' dish was actually the 'old' dish which was stuck in the oven for too long and the pork was overcooked and mashed potato was dried up. How did we know it was the 'old' dish? Because the pork had the evidence where my friend cut off the earlier piece and the mashed potato had the mark where he ate off it the last time.

We really don't know what happened here; either they were being stupid and playing games with us because they were unhappy that we sent the dish back to be re-heated (a lot of chefs hate this). Or they forgot that they put it into the oven and had to make up a lousy excuse but so stupid to forget to cover their mistake by trying to at least remold the dish so that everything on it looked new. But either way; this was NOT a sign of a professional kitchen. It was immature & down-right pathetically idiotic.

My friend was so hungry to complain any further at this point. He did not eat the mashed potato and did mention this to the waiter who did not even give a damn and did not even make an effort to be sorry.

The woman filling bottles with wine from the pouch. We ordered one glass of Rasteau (5 euros) and glass of Morgon (5 euros) and they were accompanied the food very well.

Overall: we entered this restaurant with so much enthusiasm because so so so many reviews have praised the place. The menu looked wonderful. My dish was excellent; my friends dish was in the beginning great; he just wanted it 'a tad hotter'. Something so simple imploded into something juvenile. What started out nicely, turned the experience into a bad taste. We have not decided if we want to return. Not that they care or anything because the place is packed packed packed.

The staff were friendly and efficient at first. But after our incident and the waiter who handled the situation for us; I could not help but looked at him with the 'evil eye'. I was mentally making voodoo spells and curses on him for the our treatment.

The total bill was 65 euros (including a bottle of eau gazeuse, two glasses of wine and two coffees). Which was not bad at all. Let's see if I can let this episode off my chest so that I can give them a second chance.

135, rue Saint Dominique
75007, Paris
(Pas de réservation) There is no phone number because they do not take reservations

Monday, December 20, 2010

Le Royal Monceau (Paris, France)

After 2 years of undergoing important renovation work, one of the most prestigious Parisian Hotel; Le Royal Monceau – (which is owned by the Raffles group), which had closed down in June 2008, opened its doors, October 18th; the new Royal Monceau is by now the most trendy hotel in Paris.

"Impelled by Qatari Diar and Alexandre Allard the creative director, designer Philippe Starck completely transformed the place during two years, and re-invented its spirit so as to make Le Royal Monceau – Raffles Paris the first hotel in a new generation of Parisian palaces." quote from

We wanted to have a drink after dinner; and of course we went to the bar that is on everyone's mouth, which is the 'Long Bar', designed by Philippe Starck.

The Royal Monceau is Starck’s attempt to say what “real French modernity should look like… artistic, delicate, open, poetic” according to I would have to agree. I was very surprised & stunned that the lobby & bar were not the usual Strack bizarreness but rather the place had loads of coolness from unique features like curtains hanging from the ceiling (hard to explain), stylishness from blending vintage & Scandinavian modeled furniture with modern decorations & chicness from using the neutral colours of browns & beiges with bold colours of ruby reds & colt blues.

The place was empty because we were there after midnight (but we were at the Long Bar for aperitif the next evening before our dinner which was during a weekday & around 19:30. The place was packed packed packed with very trendy, chic & stylish people. We were lucky to even get a table).

The end of the Long Bar (you can see some of the marble long bar in the photo) is the giant shelf where the bartenders store the alcohol and where they prepare the cocktails.

We ended our evening by ordering wine by the glass (13 euros) since we already had a bottle of wine for our dinner.

The service at the bar was very friendly and attentive. The Long Bar is now our favourite bar in town for an aperitif or after dinner drinks. The place is simply stunning!

37 Avenue Hoche
75008 Paris
Tel.: 01 42 99 88 00

Sunday, December 19, 2010

La Marée (Paris, France)

One of the hardest tables to get for Sunday lunch in Paris is at La Marée. Our friends reserved a table several days in advance. La Marée is a highly regarded & well known seafood establishment in Paris; hence the restaurant is named for the tide.

It used to be so so so expensive (according to my friends) but thank goodness for us; they have lowered their prices but maintained the quality. The bigger deal is the lunch menu. You can either choose from the 29 euros menu (choice 1 starter/ 1 main or 1 main/ 1 dessert) or you can choose the 34 euros menu (1 starter/ 1 main/ 1 dessert). We all chose the 29 euros menu.

The dinning room decor is old world charm; the restaurant decorated like a little Tudor inn with leaded & stained windows, traditional upholstery on the comfy banquettes, 17th century Flemish tapestries, and an high-end old-fashioned elegance that never goes out of style. Very elegant and posh.

Even the customers are very elegant and chic. There is an air of money for some reason. The room has a hush tone since the customers are conversing quietly. This for sure is no McDonalds. Every man is in a Sunday jacket and every woman is looking proper and beautiful. I can imagine how the old days were when people still cared about how they looked when they went out on Sundays. For sure; not sports track suits and Nike jogging shoes like today's generation.

There were six of us for this lunch and I am posting all the food that my friends & I had. Of course, I tasted all of them so that I would be fair in my assessment of the food. My friends were not happy since they could not eat until I tasted and took a photo of the food. But, they are used to me by now.

The first starter was Bisque de homard. One of my favourite soups; this lobster bisque was rich in flavour and creamy in texture. A very nice way to start a meal in winter.

The second starter was Coques à la arnière de coriandre. The clams were so sweet & fresh. The simplicity of this dish; clams cooked in white wine, butter and its own juices, is what made it so so good.

The third starter was Encornets (two of my friends had this starter). The octopus rings were so fresh that it was not even chewy. The texture was perfect and the taste was amazing. They were fried until a light golden colour and the flavour burst through. Very nice indeed.

The fourth starter was Marmite de coquillages aux poireaux et safran, sous sa croute dorée. The dish arrived looking like a pot pie. My friend opened the pastry covering the bowl and...voila! The lovely creamed shelled fish in the bowl. The sauce was thick & creamy. The dish was lovely..

The fifth starter was Soupe de potiron avec gnocchi. The pumpkin soup was rich in flavour and creamy in texture. The gnocchis added extra extra texture but nothing else. A nice winter soup.

The house specialty is the Bouillabaisse La Marée. Every one in town knows to come here on Sunday for this amazing dish (five of us had this dish). The broth was rich & thick. The seafood was fresh, firm and cooked perfectly. It tasted heavenly and was hearty for a winters day.

One of my friends decided to be different and had the Quennelles de brochet. This lovely dish is made from ground pike fish, eggs, butter and cream and is in a lobster bisque. A rich and filling dish.

After lunch; we decided to do some Christmas shopping. Here are some beautiful scenes of white Paris on our way to our favourite shopping area. This is a very lovely & unique scene indeed. This was the Grand Palais des Beaux-Arts with Le pont Alexandre-III in front.

Les Invalides now can be called the White Les Invalides.

Overall: this lunch was amazing. The atmosphere was even though in a glamorous place was actually easy going & comfortable. The service is impeccable & friendly. The food was outstandingly fresh & yummy. AND of course; who can beat the 29 euros menu? The quality & price ratio is a rare treat in Paris. Another great aspect of this restaurant (I am biased here), is that it is walking distance from our place. We will definately reserve my Sundays for La Marée.

258 rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré
Angle avec le 1 rue Daru,
75008 Paris
Tel.: 01 43 80 20 00