I recently had the mushroom menu at Lumiere. The menu was entitled "a celebration of fall mushrooms" :)
I was seated along a banquette on the left-hand-side of the dining room. Gourgeres were brought; not particularly good, and not warm. I picked the pumperknickel bread, and got some butter from a greenish translucent glass, square-shaped butter tray that had an oval indentation for the butter. This butter tray looks very similar to that at Tru (Chicago), except that it has "Lumiere" written on one side of the thick glass edge.
(1) [Icecap/matsutake/oyster mushrooms] and baby leek terrine, with daikon sprouts and nori tossed in an Asian vinaigrette (Square brackets denote changes in the menu I received, relative to the printed menu).
An interesting dish (in a positive sense). The dish is amusing because it appears to be based on the terrine, with a little daikon sprout-salad on the side. When sampled, however, it is evident that the salad is as prominent a part of the sampling of mushrooms as the terrine, and almost represented a separate part of the dish.
The terrine had various sections of nicely-prepared mushrooms, with napa cabbage constituting the outer "wrapping" of the terrine (presented, as is usual for certain terrines, sliced in cross-section). It was quite good, but I liked the daikon sprout side of the dish better. There were a few grains of fleur de sel on top of the terrine.
The daikon salad portion of the dish displayed the fresh, light aspects of certain mushrooms. In this case, there was a further "surprise" in the dish. Amidst the more voluminous julienne strands of longish daikon radish flesh (raw) were the thin stems and little bulbs of enoki mushrooms (also raw). The daikon had a slight horseradish, fresh flavor, and was crunchy, thereby showcasing the quasi-crunchy, but less crunchy, texture of the enoki stalks. The bitterness of the daikon was a fairly good accompaniment for the enoki as well, and was accentuated by some baby greens placed on top of the salad (perhaps baby arugula?). The saucing was an Asian vinaigrette that contained a bit of sesame oil. There was a bit of black sesame too in the salad, but its taste was not noticeable.
The wine pairing is Chateaux Duclas (?), 2002, a Sauvignon Blanc blend from the Entre-Deux-Mers region. On first sampling this wine, I thought it was too neutral for the terrine. It was very neutral, even for me. When I sampled the daikon sprouts part of the dish, however, I understood that the wine pairing had been more for it, to accept the refreshing aspects of the daikon salad and not overwhelm the salad.
(2) Mushroom consomme and [scallops] with tomato concasse and a julienne of matsutake
A thin, raw sliver of scallop was sitting in a bowl, with a small pile of very thin juliennes of mushrooms on top of it that tasted sort of refreshing (as far as mushrooms go). Parsley was included in the presentation. A dining room team member immediately came by to pour the mushroom consomme on, which brought appropriate aromas of the product and also served to cook slightly the scallop.
This dish did allow the mushroom to be highlighted, as the texture and taste of the silghtly-cooked scallop was relatively nexutral in the context of the dish. I liked this preparation.
(3) Black truffle casserole, roast fingerling potatoes, sunchokes and caramelized cippolini onions
This dish of potatoes, sunchokes was served in an All-Clad saucepan. The dining room team member joked that the venue had run out of plates; I found the joke kind of funny within the context of the meal. Nicely subdued butter-based sauce with chives. Black truffles were not too strong (in a good way). Interesting was that sunchokes and potatoes (fingerlings) were both very crisp, and tasted surprisingly similar. They had also been cut in a similar manner and in a similar size. Very crisp, yet with vegetable textures. Nicely paired with a Beaujolais village that was appropriate for its genre.
(3A) Offered course -- A kuri squash and mascarpone raviolo was sent from the kitchen. The dining room team member, with whom I had nice discussions, indicated that it was one of Chef Feenie's signature items and wanted me to sample it. I was all to happy to sample it, but noted to her that I had sampled a similar version of it at Lumiere Bar (where it is sometimes available in almost the same, but not necessarily identical form). (Incidentally, if diners are visiting the Lumiere Bar area and have not had occasion to go to the gastronomic portion of the restaurant, kuri squash and mascarpone raviolo dishes or sablefish dishes on the Lumiere Bar menu tend to be closer to corresponding dishes in the gastronomic portion of Lumiere)
A single small raviolo was brought forth, with the comforting taste of butternut squash adding sweetness to the inside of the raviolo. The saucing contained truffled beurre blanc (appropriately difficult-to-notice truffle taste), which appropriately had a bit of acidity from lemon jus. The acidity tempered the sweetness of the kuri squash in an appropriate manner. The dining room team member suggested that there was a limited amount of parmesan inside the raviolo, but that was not noticeable in the taste.
I am not an advocate of a strong hand with respect to truffles, and thought the use by Chef Feenie in the Mushroom Menu of truffles was nicely controlled.
(4) Maitake, shimiji, snowcap and morel parpadelle, with pinenuts, arugula, fresh herbs
This was a good dish, with a medium-consistency, intense meat-stock-based sauce coating the parpadelle. The pinenuts were, surprisingly to me, a positive aspect about the dish, adding a dash of nutty earthiness that went well with the mushrooms. What can I say about chunks of maitake, shimiji and snowcaps, with nice morels? :) My notes don't indicate the red paired appropriately with this course.
I liked that this course highlighted the "darkness" and "woodsiness" of mushrooms. In a sense, in certain dishes, mushrooms can almost fulfill the role of certain meats (e.g., beef), and this dish made me wonder more about this point.
The cheese plate had 5-6 selections. I chose a Camembert that had an unusual-looking rind for this type of cheese. Rind looked quite developed, and ths cheese was quite mature. Munster looked young, and the only included blue was Irish Cashel blue. One reason I chose only Camembert was in view of Chef Alain Senderens' observation that he had not identified a wine pairing that went well with Camembert. The wine pairing disappointed slightly, as it was likely what was generically utilized for Lumiere's cheese plate.
(6) Lemon sorbet with mixed berry puree
This type of refreshing dessert is appropriate after the mushroom dishes. Chocolate would have been unduly heavy, and a mistake, in my book (wholly apart from a type of dessert I generally dislike). The lemon sorbet was nicely executed, and the mixed berries not too syrupy.
(7) Vanilla ice cream cake served with caramel jelly and chocolate brownie sauce.
The dessert was pleasing, with only the truffle sauce (included in the plate in an artistic-looking presentation) having chocolate components. A nicely rectangulat set of little cakes (akin, but not, to dense pound cakes) that were nice. Cakes were soaked in vanilla (melted vanilla ice cream?) sauce. Not overpowering, and quite nice. On top Of cakes were litte cubes of caramel-flavore gelee, possilbly with a rhum connotation. I though this sponge cake-based item would have been nicer without the chocolate. However, the chocolate saucing was easy to side-step.
Overall, a very good meal (North American standards). I plan to return soon to continue my understanding of Lumiere (including its bar area) :)
The dining room team's assistance was very good. I particularly liked the offer to escort me, using the gentleman's arm as support for mine, by one of the dining room team leaders. This is a gesture that I see very little of, as a solo diner, and that I still like. My dining room team member was very informed; she was professional and interested in the cuisine being offered to me. I like the black suit-type costumes of the dining room team members.
The menu was C$100 (US$65-70), with an additional C$50 for wine pairings. Given the relatively expensive pricing of the largely-non-Canadian offerings on Lumiere's wine list (which is not as extensive as I would have imagined, for a Relais Gourmand), wine pairings would appear to be the most appropriate way to go, both before (i.e., with respect to matching with the cuisine) and after taking price into consideration.
With a glass of champagne (Louis Roederer Brut, although different bottles seem to be poured from time to time), it came to approximately C$200 (US$140) after tax and before tips.
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