Restaurants & Bars

Guy Savoy, Paris, France (long)

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Guy Savoy, Paris, France (long)

Limster | Jan 2, 2002 02:14 AM

As I perused la carte in my corner of this modern elegant dining room, I was somewhat relieved that Guy Savoy did not begin his tasting menu with foie gras. (I had so much of that on this trip in so many incarnations, I was starting to feel jaded and longed for sometime different.)

Instead, the foie gras was briefly and deliciously dispensed with right at the start, like the cheerful and gracious greetings that chorused when I was led to my table. Two mouthfuls of rich sweet liver on toast made the first part of the amuse bouche. They were enough of a bite to hint of better things to come, but sufficiently petite that they wouldn't upstage the rest of the menu. Brevity is indeed the soul of wit.

I worked through a few more bites and sips. A glorious carrot soup, a crunchy piece of marinated squid that was a charming squiggle on the palate, and buttery cube of seared tuna, as red as a ripe fruit and as precious as a ruby.

Instead of foie gras, Guy Savoy opened with a different part of a different fowl that was equally distinguished. I was excited when I was presented with a square of moist velvety pink-white meat that seemed to have be pressed together and sliced like a terrine. I was eating out of the breast of a noble bird, a Bresse chicken. In my ignorance, I had no idea what made this breed of chicken from this certain town so great, but I was well aware that this particular dish was elevated by embedded chunks of white tender crunches from a white root vegetable or melon of some sort. I wondered all night if it was winter melon, the kind that Chinese use in light savory soups. Whatever it was, the pairing was perfect, the vegetable lightness truly touched off the flavors of the chicken, and their complementary textures only served heighten the savory sensation of each other.

Then we set out to sea. Sweet succulent lobster on coins of potato. An unctious frolick in a rich cream sauce.

But it was the mussel dish that had me thrilled. The waiter who brought the dish was very excited and he had every right to be. He described the dish glowingly. The mussels were cooked and separated from the juices, that were further reduced for a sauce. And then they were reunited on the plate. Deep delicious flavors indeed. But I think the genius here was in the textural pairing, in bringing the blunt soft snap of straw mushrooms to escort the juicy tender resilience of the mussels. A simple dish, but simply delightful.

The next dish needs no introduction here and it has already been raved at so many times here. It was *the* artichoke soup. I leave the rest to your imagination; my words aren't delicious enough to describe it.

Finally, a gamey stew of wild duck and pigeon with foie gras, cabbage and wild mushrooms, a dish that took full advantage of game and mushroom season. The pot is brought to the table, the dough seal over the lid broken, and the dish presented and then whisked away to be carved and plated. Great blend of textures and flavors wild but not savage. A dark kind of deliciousness.

I had a few bites of some luxurious cheese, which I couldn't remember. Then an apple sorbet with slices of apple and bits of chestnuts to cleanse the palate. That set the stage for a little chocolate terrine lined by a brittle and crunchy hazelnut layer. I also get a sliver of the apple tart and a mouthful of a sophisticated and icy rendition of lemon tea - a tea and lemon sorbet. Desserts were excellent, but paled in comparison to the rest of the meal.

Overall, a wonderful experience, and every bit as good as others have described.

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