L’Astrance (Paris, France)
4 rue Beethoven
75016 Paris, France
Dining date: 10/28/14
After lunch at l’Atelier de Joel Robuchon, our last meal in Paris was dinner here at l’Astrance. A Michelin three star and currently #38 on the world’s best restaurant list, it was our toughest reservation too as the popular restaurant has 25 tables and is open only four days a week. Luckily, we scored a table through our hotel concierge.
Pascal Barbot trained under Alain Passard at l’Arpege and brings many of the same principles, using high quality seasonal ingredients and simple preparations to allow the ingredients to shine. Barbot does incorporate more meat into his dishes, though. Having spent a bit of time cooking in Asia, there are hints of Asian techniques and flavors throughout. There is no menu; the restaurant creates a surprise tasting each night (€210).
Like many of our meals in Paris, this one started with a glass of champagne.
porcini and truffle, green apple and almond
The first thing out of the kitchen were these ‘tarts.’ Very subtle in flavor and delicate in texture; the green apple and almond one especially whet the appetite.
millefeuille with foie gras, mushroom, apple, lemon
A bit of a signature item at l’Astrance, this millefeuille appeared to be painstakingly put together with layers of foie gras and mushroom, complemented by lemon and apple flavors. Eaten with every single layer, there were lots of subtle crispy textures and a rich, creamy foie center. Fruit helped to brighten up the earthiness.
langoustine in its broth with seasonal vegetables
Next was perfectly cooked langoustine, bathed in a fragrant and delicious broth. Crunchy seasonal vegetables completed this seemingly-simple, yet very satisfying, dish.
cucumber sushi roll
A bit of a mini course, this one was very crispy with bright flavors.
cod with thai salad of green papaya and sudachi
Cod was cooked perfectly, moist with a subtle smoky flavor from the grill. The green papaya salad was vibrant and the acidity helped complement the fish.
polenta, parmesan cream, porcini, white truffle
A rich and cheesy polenta was topped with nutty, earthy flavors from the Parmesan, porcini and white truffle. Honestly I might have liked a little more heat applied to the mushroom slivers to get a bit more richness, but this was still a tasty course.
veal with peanut chili sauce
The veal was very tender and fairly moist, paired with a peanut chili sauce with strong Asian accents. The sauce actually paired quite well with the veal, tasting very…familiar.
duck with chard, pomegranate, sour cherry
The duck breast was pretty good, but the side of duck leg and liver was even more delicious. The pomegranate and sour cherry sauces were good ones, adding bright fruit flavors to each bite.
With savory courses complete, a number of small sweet ones came next.
chili pepper sorbet with ginger and lemongrass
Very refreshing and only subtly spicy, this was a welcome pre-dessert.
sherry cream, pear, cake, cognac, walnut
Loved the look of this one; warm pear was topped with this sherry cream in a delicately crunchy ‘cone.’
coffee ice cream, rice krispies
A lighter coffee flavor came through in this ice cream with texture from a take on rice krispies.
The eggnog was very nice with floral scents coming through. Went well with the warm madeleines. We were way too full to finish the fruit at this point, but appreciated the fresh bite to end the meal.
The meal at l’Astrance was a very good one. There were a number of memorable highlights from the langoustine to the cod and even the desserts; the kitchen clearly demonstrated a high level of cooking with superb ingredients. Asian accents were nice touches without being overbearing. If there was one drawback, it’s that the service was at times slow and inattentive (at least, for a three-star level).
Take a walk to the end of the block for a great view of the Eiffel Tower.