Friday, April 13, 2012

Akrame (Paris, France)

We read about a one star Micheline star restaurant; how good the food was and that the chef is one of the up and coming chefs in Paris.  The restaurant is called Akrame...the name of the chef.  Chef Akrame Benallal - having trained with Pierre Gagnaire and Ferran Adria understands how to surprise yet not go too far with his cooking.  Chef Akrame also knows how to give you something familiar yet for some reason you have not had it cooked that way before...this is the reason why he one of the chefs to watch right now.   

The restaurant is simple chic...lots of grey; from charcoal grey to light grey and all in between.  The lighting has just the right glow that gives the room warmth yet allows you to read the menu (a very good thing).   The restaurant is not very big with about ten tables (I can't remember) and an open kitchen to showcase all the chefs at work.

There are only two choices for dinner; either a Menu coup de cour: 4 plats for 60 euros or 4 plats and wines to accompany each dish for 90 euros.  The second choice is Menu gourmand: 6 plats for 80 euros or 6 plats and wines to accompany each dish for 120 euros.  We chose the Menu gourmand with the wines to accompany our meal.  

The amuse bouche was Beetroot on cracker and smoked fish on seaweed.  Intense flavours & rich colours to wet our appetites.

The first dish was Sous vide egg in mayonnaise.  Ok; the word mayonnaise makes me sick and want to throw up (I really really hate the stuff)...but thank goodness; it was actually not mayonnaise but a smooth & velvety sauce that added so much flavour to the perfectly sous vide cooked soft egg.  

The second dish was Asparagus with pistachio and asparagus water jelly.  The greens with the contrast of the black dish was stunning...very Japanese.  The freshness of the seasonal asparagus with the tastes of pea puree and the texture of the pistachios were a perfect combination...on top of all that the asparagus water jelly exploded intense asparagus flavour in the mouth.

The third dish was Crab stuffed cannelloni.  The cannelloni was firm yet soft and the crab was so fresh and abundant.  The crab had amazing taste.  The dish overall was very light; which was a nice way to get ready for the next dish.  

The fourth dish was Half lobster.  The lobster was of good size, it was so fresh, it was a deep crimson colour, it had a firm texture yet it was tender & juicy.  With an amazing sea product like this; there was no need for a sauce to drown the lobster in.  The lobster was definately the only star of this delicious dish.  

The fifth dish was Cod fish with garlic soil.  The fish was fresh, firm & tender.  It was cooked perfectly.  The dish had lovely contrast of white fish, the black garlic soil with purple flowers on top.  Such a beautiful dish with lovely flavours and textures.   

The sixth dish was Roasted pigeon.  The pigeon was so so tender & juicy and cooked only till its crimsom red inside...perfect.  The flavour of seasonal fresh raspberry sauce added a light sweetness to the gamey taste of the pigeon and acidity of the olive oil.  

The seventh dish was Cheese on single filo sheet.  What a very interesting way to serve the cheese a form of another well constructed dish.  The cheese was surrounded with fresh seasonal leaves on top of a single filo sheet.  Cheese was soft & rich, the leaves were fresh & had acidity due to the vinegrette dressing and the filo sheet added crispness to the dish.  A lovely way to end our savoury dinner and introduce us to the sweet journey of the meal.   

The eight dish (pre-dessert) was Seasonal fruit sorbet, vanilla foam & salty caramel hat.  A taste of the season, light in taste & sweetness and refreshing.  I nice way to break from the savoury and get our taste buds ready for the main dessert to come.  

The last dish (dessert) was Fraise du boise with meringue roof.  The strawberries were small but boy did they have a kick when it comes to so good.  I have never been a fan of meringue but it did add some sweetness to the dish; but otherwise it was a waste of space.  

To end the meal with the coffee; they presented a home-made salty & sweet dark chocolate bar.  How amazing is that?  You were even allowed to take it home if you ate too much...which we did.

Overall;  the food was wonderful.  Chef Akrame's cooking is spontaneous, light & playful.  The colours, textures & flavours were so well combined and presented.  The cooking was perfect.  The ambiance was easy-going & relaxed.  The service was good but the wine service could have been better.

The sommelier was very nice but he was monopolised by a certain VIP guest who kept ordering wines and kept the sommelier for 20 questions and answers.  So; the communication between the kitchen and the sommelier was off.  Our food would be delivered but our glasses were always empty.  We had to ask for the wines every single time.  We were not alone; the table next to us also had the same problem.

The wine issue in no way ruin our lovely evening because the food truly shinned in every way.  If Akrame keeps cooking like this; then for sure this place will be one of the most difficult tables to secure in Paris (its pretty difficult now)...I guess we will have to reserve a table now for our return trip to Paris.    

Address:  19 rue Lauriston
                75016 Paris


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