In terms of individual awards the chefs could receive, I could not recall someone is more successful than Ritz Paris’ executive chef – Michel Roth (the recipients of Bocuse d’or, Meilleur ouvrier de France and Chevalier de la legion d’honneur). Actually, he missed one thing – the most popular honor: 3-star Michelin. I’ve been wondering how come a chef like Michel Roth failed to win Michelin’s highest honor. I had a chance to savor his cuisine in Dec ‘10
Food (and wine) - 92/100
Michel Roth, along with chef de cuisine Arnaud Faye, delivers classic French cuisine based on seasonal fine products at Ritz’s signature restaurant – L’Espadon. My fiancée and I ordered discovery menu; we had different main course and dessert. Here are the short comments of the dishes,
- The langoustine carpaccio and chilled crab happen to be average and a bit cloying; I like the prawn crust and vegetable consommé better
- I like Roth’s version of lobster thermidor. The lobster was firm and slightly sweet, integrated well with the sauce (a mixture of lobster's juice, tarragon and mustard) and supported by tasty mushroom fricassee. A classic dish with extensive preparation indeed
- Roasted scallops with potato gnocchis. The plum scallop with truffle mousse was actually delicious, but it's just a tad overcooked. I find the gnocchi was too rich
- Mine: Beef fillet in Rossini style. A traditional French dish with heavy flavor. It's rather disappointing since the beef, cooked medium, was a bit tough and not juicy - the flavor was not there either. The 'cappuccino' mashed potato was fragrant and quite good, but not too 'smooth
- My fiancee’s: Lamb saddle glazed. She said the lamb, with thin layers of fat, was tender and scrumptious. I tried and confirmed it's indeed very flavorful. The egg plant and onions were not too bad. This is worth at least 2.5*
- I have not had selection of French matured cheese for quite sometimes prior to this meal … I had Tomme crayeuse d'Annecy (cow - nutty cheese), Abondance (firm with distinct flavor), Camembert au Calvados (relatively fragrant), Boulette d'Avesnes (strong taste with spicy texture) served with walnut & raisin bread, fig and apricot
- Mine: Millefeuille a la Ritz. The puff pastry went along with light creme Chibouste (normal cream lighted with meringue). The salt, thankfully, turned down the caramel's sweetness. Not on the L'Arpege's level yet, but slightly better than Cote St. Jacques' version
- My fiancee’s: Imperial tangerines with almonds and citrus. After eating many dishes with intense flavor, this would be the perfect way to close the meal. Light, a bit sweet and easy to digest
L’espadon, as expected, has many exceptional vintages in its wine cellar. I went simple for the wines – 2 glasses only: ’08 Chassagne-Montrachet and ’06 Clos de l’Oratoire (lovely and tasty). After this meal, I can understand why it’s not 3-star. The dishes are not really outstanding and somewhat inconsistent. Even for the classical dish (with rustic preparation) is not perfectly executed (L’Ambroisie and Ledoyen are the best in classical preparation and execution). While there are many good dishes, none of them was really memorable that I want to return and have those dishes. In my notes, the food here is 92 pts (2 ¼*); Michelin got it right. The kitchen team is more likely to work hard to keep the 2-star than chasing for the 3rd one.
Service (and ambiance) - 95/100
L’Espadon is one of a few restaurants I’ve visited in which the service is more spectacular than the food itself (the other one I could recall clearly will be Genyana Hamadaya Tokyo). The dining room staffs successfully deliver impeccable service; they are very friendly and informative. Despite working for one of the most luxurious restaurants in town, they’re professional without being arrogant – they always smile and look excited to serve their guests.
The atmosphere here is exquisite with opulent décor. One can be dazzled by the trompe l’oeil ceilings; there are also luxurious mirrors, gilts and drapes. During our dinner, the most outstanding piece will be a giant Christmas tree located in the center of the dining room (please see the picture below). Overall, it’s still a pleasant meal if you’re not too picky about the dishes. I give 93/100 for our dining experience here (2 ¼* equivalent to Michelin standard)
For the dishes’ pictures: https://picasaweb.google.com/11823790...
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