Restaurants & Bars

Lucas Carton, Paris, France

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Lucas Carton, Paris, France

Limster | Jan 29, 2002 02:10 AM

Apologies for the much delayed posting - it's been more than two months since my wonderful (and super pricey) meal at Lucas Carton. On with the food.

Alain Senderens must be very fond of ginger. I stuck to the sea at my dinner there, and a refreshing breath of ginger came with each savory course. It's an old Oriental trick, and I wonder where the primo chef at Lucas Carton picked it up. Never mind though. He wields it well in his varied compositions. What might have been repetively boring in lesser hands is used effectively to brighten the food in refreshing ways.

Ginger pipes up a pair of lovely razor clams in a pink cream sauce. Perfect texture and a lovely opening amuse bouche.

Then a second bite: a velvet piece of tuna on a cracker of some sort, working on a classic textural contrast.

In the scallop appetizer, ginger makes a dual appearance. Behind the scenes, it works artfully with a confident current of basil, both flavors mingling seductively in rich cream sauce. On stage, the ginger is pickled pink (like that in sushi), cut into tiny squares, and skewered on little ornate toothpicks with similarly cut pieces of zuchinni. Good colorful aethetics in the juxtaposition of pink and green and in the little shell that top off the toothpick. And all just to make four perfectly cooked pieces of scallops look and taste even better.

Then ginger is muted into a discreet rumor in the sauce that breaths life into one of Senderen's signatures: the lobster with vanilla sauce. I don't have much to add about the lobster itself. Perfectly cooked and paired brilliantly with a creamy sauce teaming with dots from vanilla seeds, the lobster adds its own sweetness to the sauce when they are tasted together. A simple but eloquent garnish of a whole vanilla bean drives home the flavor in the diner's mind.

It would have be a truly stupendously fabulous lobster if that was all, but there is more. Also on the plate is a tiny pile of rich green spinach for a leafy contrasy to the succulent lobster and a verdant challenge to the bright red shell.

True genius however, is found on the other side of the plate: a pile of thin al dente vermicelli coiled into a tiny nest. Cut a small bite of the vermicelli and eat that together with a piece of the lobster to touch the hem of heaven. The vermicelli soaks up more of the vanilla sauce, adding to the pleasure. But more important is the clever textural interplay between vermicelli and lobster. I bit down, felt the lobster yield and a microsecond later, the vermicelli beneath it broke in a series of minute delightful crunches, each string snapping a mere instance after another, like a tiny sequence of falling dominos. What a wonderful tactile sensation by lobster and vermicelli together!

This lobster ties with the lobster I had at Auberge De L'ill as the best I've had in my life. Truly a revelation for me (Though I hope I haven't seen everything yet, and please let there are more new pleasures to be had!)

It cannot get better after that. The cheese course was lovely though. I asked for cheese uncommon outside France and got to taste an intriguingly deliciously woodsy St Nectaire (spelling?) among others.

Dessert was merely good, a rich chocolate fondant of some sort with deep fruity dark cherries singing from a metal cup on the side.

Once again, apologies for the much delayed posting (the SF board has grown rather busy of late). But the details are still clear -- afterall the lobster is not easy to forget.

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