I’ll start off by thanking all you CHers - I wouldn’t have gone to L’Arcane if it were for everyone here. So for that - THANK YOU! Also apologies for this long post!
I walk in to an empty dining room at 20:00 - you guys eat so late! Sophie was in the bar area prepping for the nights service. With a smile on her face she welcomes me and offers me my choice of 3 tables. Fantastic! Most restaurants thus far have shoved the solo diner wherever most convenient to them. This was refreshing!
Sophie briefed me on how it works and I had already confidently decided before she even presented them that I would chose the 5 course. I even thought about asking whether there could be a 6 course. This Texas boy can eat! She asks me what I dislike or would like to avoid to which I say: escargot and dishes with too much foie gras because its excessively rich for me. I typically go out of my way to avoid seafood as well, but I figured I wouldn’t drop that bomb on her.
Around 20:20 the room started filling up. Are these patrons fashionably late? Is that the norm? Most are French. First, an American couple comes in and once again, are shown the 2 tables in the inner dining area. They are seated but soon change their mind and request to sit out by the front of the room. How does this work exactly? Do restaurants choose where patrons? I noticed that a french couple rolled in a bit later being forced to the dining table in the back - near the kitchen. That front table the Americans took appeared to be reserved for them.
A razor clam amuse bouche arrives - okay maybe I should have told her I dont fancy seafood. Granted, this is my first time trying razor clams - lets give it a whirl. Whoa! The creamy vinaigrette is sour and pairs well with the sweetness of the clam. The buttered bread is insanely pretty and adds a fattiness to the overall taste of the dish. I immediately post to FB regarding my thrill of actually enjoying a seafood dish - a rarity.
The first course arrives and it is white asparagus. The white sauce (mousseline) is very sour and zaps my tongue alive. Whats hidden between two stalks of asparagus - appears to be white/clear cubes… a quick taste yields tastes of the sea salty briny softness with a hint of citrus. Yep! Another seafood dish. I can’t possibly enjoy another seafood dish? I have better odds winning the lotto! But indeed - this dish is so well put together. I didn’t even mention the cured meat (didn’t catch name) I felt it wasn’t necessary and by that I mean the dish was fantastic as is. I did however feel the meat took it to a whole other level. It gave the dish some chew and saltiness. I was halfway done with the dish when Sophie came over with a look of concern - was everything alright? Should she take away the dish? Oh no no no! Not at all, I was very much contemplating how to extend my enjoyment of this dish! I guess that was queue for me to wrap it up! Tres bon! (White asparagus with oyster and seabass tartare with a mousseline sauce.
Second course is another seafood dish! Sole bone-in with a wild garlic sauce. Yet another first - my first time deboning a fish - I was a bit apprehensive but faired okay since the kitchen did most of the work for me. The skin was crispy and delicious.
Third dish was what I believed to be langoustine but Sophie told me it was something larger than a langoustine and she called it a baby lobster… isnt that a langoustine? The meat of the shellfish was soft and sweet. Turnips with a bit of citrus and herbs really brightened the overall dish and added some crunch. The broth/sauce/emulsion was out of this world! So creamy, perfectly seasoned, it tasted of mushroom milk with intense buttery flavor. I think I used an entire bread basket sopping it all up. In hindsight, this was a terrible move and I now realize there was a spoon there for such an occasion. I was borderline uncomfortably full - counting in my head how many course I had had and how many remained - this math was proving tough in my slowed mental capacity.
I give up on doing the math and just wait for what shall arrive - will it be something sweet to cap off the night? Or would it be yet another course? This Texan is beginning to feel defeated! I mulled how I easily conquered L’astrance’s middle menu with ease. Yet this restaurant in the 18th has stuffed me and with seafood no less!
Main course - coma overkill course - finally a course that wasn’t seafood course. Chicken with morel mushroom cream sauce and a side of crispy pieces. The chicken was tender and flavorful and the mushroom sauce was yet again out of this world. I had received what felt like my 4th or 5th basket of bread - it was begging me to grab a piece - but I just couldn’t do it. If I was to make it to dessert - I had to throw in the towel on those delicious carbs. The greens on the side continued the same playfulness utilizing texture and flavor to amplify.
The chicken was accompanied by a morel risotto. The risotto was surprisingly over salted which made my decision much easier to pass on. Flavor was a bit lacking and I found it odd that morel risotto would be pair with the morel cream sauce for the chicken.
I’ll leave dessert for a follow up post - since this has gotten ridiculously long. Suffice to say, I highly highly recommend L’arcane. Sure, L’astrance has phenomenal service, but Sophie is no slouch either. The pace was fantastic and she was constantly monitoring the room and ensuring every patron was enjoying their time at her restaurant. Food wise, I found nothing wow’d me at L’astrance like at L’arcane. Thus far, the absolute highlight of my visit.