I had a very good meal at Lumiere, with very good dining room team assistance that enhanced the experience.
I chose the Seafood Menu (C$100, approx US$75 at current exchange rates), coupled with the wine pairing (C$50). I was a bit tempted by the Vegetable Menu, but had already sampled the Truffle Root Vegetable Casserole on a prior visit as part of the seasonal Mushroom Menu.
Since I arrived early, I had a drink at Feenie's, along the bar area. I had a "Le Canada" martini ($8), with Canadian whiskey, cointreau, maple syrup and bitters. Curls of orange peel appeared in the drink, which I found nice. I generally don't like to drink flavored drinks before meals, but here the maple syrup ingredient tempted. The bar is a reddish tiled pattern, in keeping with the reddish walls of Feenie's (at which I have still note eaten). I looked at the menu for future reference. There are some charcuterie items, among other things (3 for $15; 6 for $25): Duck proscuitto, buendnerfleisch, pork cheeks, finocchiona salami, Menda chorizo, lonza pork loin (locally made in BC for the prior items), Serrano, Bayonne, Sopresetta.
Around the time of my reservation, I proceeded next door. I noticed for the first time the silver metallic piece of art right before the dining room at Lumiere is accessed. It says: "Shower those whom you love with love" in bold, modern, shiny lettering. I had a glass of champagne, Louis Roederer, to begin, when I arrived at my table.
The first amuse was a circular mound of smoked Albacore tuna (not quite as diced as tartar), with intertwined juliennes of daikon radish and small shreds of shiso. A room temperature sauce of soy, ponzo, ginger and bonito was poured from a little jug at the table. The slight smoking of the tuna was interesting relative to the soy saucing, which was a bit starker than I would have subjectively preferred. Still, this was an interesting deconstruction of the typical sushi presentation in Japanese cuisine, and its translation into French cuisine.
The second amuse was very good. It was a plump morcel of scallop corail, pan-fried just a bit so that the inside was still reminiscent of the inside of just-cooked foie gras/monkfish liver. There was substance to the inside of the scallop corail (aka coral), yet it was luscious and supple and not entirely solid in texture. Interestingly, the corail was very rich and had fatty aspects. This was the first time that I had had scallop corail presented as the principal item in a dish. On top of the corail was golden oscetra, and surrounding it was a delicate scallop foam that conveyed appropriately a bit of richness.
-- Lobster Carpaccio, with beet jelly, beet sorbet and aged balsamic vinegar, with Selbac-Uster Riesling 2000 Mosel. Lobster carpaccio was presented in a round shape. Carpaccio is a good way to communicate the intrinsic texture of lobster. There were 3-4 small cubes of red beet gelee, which stained nearby portions of the raw lobster flesh a beautiful burgundy. The stained parts had appropriately limited tastes of red beet, and I did not need to take in the cubes of gelee themselves. I also liked the use of yellow beetroot in the sorbet, which was quite communicative of that vegetable's flavors. A bit of chervil was present. The paired wine was surprisingly (and appropriately) acidic for its region.
-- Dungeness crab, with avocado and mango, tossed in pineapple & yuzu dressing, with Hubert Brochard, Sauvignon de Banny 2001, Vin de Pays du Sardin de la France. This dish was my least favorite of the evening, but that reflects more my subjective preferences of not liking pineapple in savory dishes and my liking a better crab/avocado combination in the form of the Avocado ravioli with crabmeat, almond oil at L'Astrance -- a signature dish of that restaurant in Paris.
Shredded Dungeness crab was placed on top of quite emolient, soft chunks of avocado. I found the crab shreds somewhat too moist. The saucing consisted of a spicy pinapple flavor, with the yuzu described in the dish name not too noticeable. The mango components gave the pineapple a bit of kick, as did the chili oil utilized in the dish. At least pineapple was being utilized in a less sugary, and more spicy, way than in most savory dishes in which it tends to appear at restaurants in general.
This Loire valley wine had an interesting golden-ness on the nose, in a good way.
-- Red Kuri Squash & Marscarpone Ravioli with Seared Alaskan Scallops, with black truffle beurre blanc, with Bouchard Pere et Fils, Les Thivaux 2000 Rully.
I liked this dish, which, of course, is a variation on the basic signature dish of Feenie of the ravioli. As I've discussed before, an interesting aspect of the ravioli is the juxtaposition of the sweetness of the red kuri squash inside the ravioli with the lemon jus in the beurre blanc. Other times I had the ravioli, I had already observed how well the acidity in the saucing worked, and this time the acidity was interesting also against the scallops, one of which was placed below each of three ravioli. The searing of the scallops had been done in a way to minimize the changing of their texture on their surfaces. Their inclusion below the ravioli was nice, as the emphasis in the dish remained the ravioli :)
-- Pan Seared Pink Snapper, with squid ink risotto and spicy carrot emulsion, with Chateau Vaudrelle 2001 Vouvray. The pink snapper was cooked to just an appropriate level, and its intrinsic flavor was permitted to be displayed. The skin was very slightly crunchy, appropriately. I was pleasantly surprised by how non-sweet and non-spicy the carrot emulsion was. It did not dominate the snapper's flavors. There were small sections of a heritage carrot from Quebec served on the side, with some crunchiness preserved. The squid ink risotto was made with Aborizzo (sp) rice, and was quite intense. It seemed more concentrated than most squid ink pastas I have sampled, almost to the point of being the intensity of black olives. An interesting counterpoint to the slight sweetness of the carrot components of the dish.
-- "Le Fromage", served with fruit and nut bread, with Hardys Whiskers Blake NV Tawny Port, Australia. While there about 5-6 selections available, I picked a Quebec blue. The fruit and nut bread was quite warm (unusually so, but not in a negative way).
One area of potential improvement at Lumiere may be the wine pairing for the cheese course. While the port is a versatile item that would generally work with the cheeses on Lumiere's board, and admitting that most diners would request a sampling of more than a single cheese and therefore the wine paired would have to be generalist in orientation, the Tawny was not necessarily ideal for the blue I chose.
-- The regular desserts for the Seafood Tasting Menu were Sour Cherry Sorbet, with lime jus, and Pineapple Carpaccio, with lemon sorbet. However, my discussion with the dining room team member responsible for my table in connection with the pineapple-based dressing for the Dungeness crab had revealed that I did not like pineapple as an ingredient in general, and the team was kind enough to offer to substitute any dessert. A discussion yielded (1) orange flower blossom ice cream (a flavor I like a great deal and which ordinarily comes with a chocolate dessert), and (2) lychee sorbet, in a reddish blood orange sauce. The lychee in particular was refreshing and pleasing.
The dining room team continued to be attentive, offering up three pate de fruit at the end of my meal instead of the usual combination with chocolates. :)
I received very professional and engaging assistance from the dining room team. One thing to be noted is that the team members' personalities show through, although all team members are unified by professionalism and attentiveness. Examples of the very able assistance I received included: (1) a nicely phrased confirmatory inquiry, after I indicated I wished to have the wine pairing for the Seafood Menu, that for the menu prevailing on that evening, the wine pairings would all be white (what I assumed, but it was a nice confirmation nonetheless, because some diners -- excluding myself -- might expect a red at some point in the meal), (2) appropriate inquiry into diner preferences after I left some part of the Dungeness crab dish on the plate, (3) nice alertness by various dining room team members to my movements when I was walking to the restroom area, (4) the dining room team member who had principally assisted me the prior time coming by to say hello after I gently nodded to her in recognition of her prior assitance, and (5) dining room team members' attentiveness at just the right level. :)
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