I had a disappointing lunch, in the Winter Garden room, recently. Rough notes are below:
The room was about ½ empty or more. The chandeliers seem appropriate to the high ceiling. We picked Laurent Perrier Rose from the champagne cart. The rose was not bad slightly fruity for my tastes.
Meal began with 4-5 little items presented on a platter as amuses. One was a fried item, almost like "shui mai" in general appearance. Frechon seems to be more receptive to deep-fried items or flash frying than any other Parisian chef Ive sampled the cuisine of. Anyhow, there is also a little "cornet" (not made with pastry) with raw radish julienne (red skin, white flesh) inside the cone. Also, a little parmesan (?) wafer that my dining companion seemed to like.
After these little items came the main amuse. Veloute of Jerusalem artichoke with little croutons on top and with diced Jerusalem artichokes (interesting texture, almost like softened onion) and small dices of chestnuts at the bottom of the veloute. Slight foam-like material on top. This was an appropriate rendition of Jerusalem artichoke veloute, with nice texture and appropriate tastes.
Macaronis truffes. Farcis d'artichaut et de foie gras de canard, graines au vieux parmesan. (Truffled macaronis. Stuffed with artichoke and duck foie gras; old parmesan)
This was listed in the Incontournables section (specialties) of the Bristol menu, suggesting it may be a signature dish. Michelin 03 also lists this as among three dishes underneath the restaurant description. The pasta consists of three side-by-side canneloni (with melted parmesan forming a slightly browned layer on top and linking the three canneloni thin for a canneloni). The three canneloni did have a mushy kind of foie-tasting paste inside them. A brownish, meat-stock-based, black truffled sauce with little tiny bits of black truffle clumped in certain areas. I found this slightly salty for my tastes, but by a small amount. The foie was quite subtle, probably assisted by the arichoke in puree-like form (not quite puree). Quite a nice dish, with relatively classical flavor combinations, but a disappointment for a signature dish.
Anguile des sargasse. Meuniere, fine mousseline de persi plat, bouilon mousseux a l'ail de Lautrec (Eel from the Sargasso Sea. Meuniere, moussline of flat parsley, foamy bouillon of garlic from Lautrec)
This was listed on the menu, like the truffled macaroni, as an Incontournable dish. I, of course, could not resist the thought of eel from the Sargasso sea (the first time I have sampled eel of such origin). I guess the meuniere prep in the context of eel meant little filets that were of a squarish/roundish size (slightly larger than my largest fingernail). Quite elasticky, like certain good sushi eel. But interestingly, flash-fried to confer upon most pieces of eel a slightly breadcrumby (although very thin) layer of browned, uneven material on the outside. Still, a bit too much with respect to flash-frying effects. Mousseline of parsley and garlic bouillon gave this dish bite. It was stronger than I would have liked. Not poor, there was nothing special about eel from the Sargasso sea or this preparation. A play on a deconstruction of parsley and garlic as utilized with butter for saucing in certain traditional French dishes (like arguably, Loiseaus frogs legs signature dish).
Glace a l'eau de fleur d'oranger. I was so full (not from this meal) that we ordered only orange flower blossom ice cream that was part of another dessert. I ate only a little bite, although the ice cream was nice. Noticed meringue-like long decorative elements in the presentation of the dish that this pastry chef seems to like using.
Various mignardises were brought. Interesting presentation: An inverted small shotglass had on it a single red rose petal. Below the shotglass were four little macarons include a lemon (?) and a pink strawberry one. When the shotglass (inverted) was removed, the macarons sort of fell into a heap on the plate below. Not particularly good as macarons, since their flavor was a bit stark. The rest of the mignardises, I did not try.
I chose a Dom Ruinart Blanc de Blancs 93 (slightly over 200 euros). It was not as good as I remember. Ive had this champagne in this vintage several times before, and somehow liked it better then. Still, a good match for the eel and the lobster.
Total bill was reasonable at under 250 euros a person. The eel was a good deal at under 50 euros.
Frechon appears to be trying for three stars. One can see it in the increased reference to products from a given region on the menu, for example. However, Frechons cuisine clearly doesnt deserve 3 stars (my original assessment; this being my second meal at Bristol under Frechon).