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Mao and Vivin’s Happy Trip Thru Paris (2): Lucas Carton

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Mao and Vivin’s Happy Trip Thru Paris (2): Lucas Carton

Mao | Feb 24, 2002 06:53 PM

I feel sorry for Lucas Carton, because I, Vivin and his wife had experienced such a superlative meal at Arpege a mere few hours earlier. So going in our stomachs were largely full and our expectations of Paris’s reputed best establishments were already rather high.

To be fair, there are aspects of LC that I genuinely like/find intriguing, notably that each dish should have a wine very clearly associated with it. I mean I have seen this before and actually it is very well carried off at Babbo, but its use in a 3 star French rest seemed a rather assertive gesture to me, especially as I assume that at this level much of each restaurant’s PL is made by the propensity of whimsical, monied Americans showing up and ordering 1982 premier grand cru Bordeaux reds for the equivalent of the GDP per capita of most Less Developed Countries. I got to try a 1990 Corton Charlemagne I had been lusting after for a decade. The wine was not as moving and complex as I had hoped, but such is life. And I am grateful that LC provided the opportunity to try. Unfortunately, I must say that Lucas Carton only just edged out Taillevent as our least interesting meal. There was very little that was wrong mind you. Like Tailevent, I can’t say that there was anything actually bad with the meal. It was just that the food was merely very good, instead of being consistently great. It should also be noted that one of us, Vivin’s wife, had a superb meal, so it can be done. But for euros expended, stars awarded and reputation gained, more than one person in three should have a mind-bending meal.

As a physical space, LC is exquisite with stunning early 20th Cent art nouveau woodwork everywhere. It’s a bit more of a formal experience certainly then Arpege.

I had the lobster over very thin pasta in a cream sauce and black truffles. Like the chicken at Arpege, this was truffled to death -- no other odor or texture even had the chance of prevailing here. This came with the Corton Charlemagne.

Vivin had the overworked, slightly too thinly cut and a bit too overdone red snapper with capers, olives in olive oil with greens, while Vivin’s wife was smart enough to order a Foie Gras that had been cooked au jus and sauced with some sort of nut and pineapples. This was great-crunchy, sweet and with the FG very buttery all at once.
This was accompanied by a great Sauterne. A totally balanced and brilliant dish. Vivin’s dish was even less interesting than my lobster.

As a main dish, I order red snapper that came with some odd but virtually unedible carrots and other puréed veggies. The fish was perfectly cooked, but also perfectly bland and dull. Vivin had some yawning duck that was rather tasteless. Vivin’s wife ordered scallops with black truffles with butter and a small white pasta. Superb stuff with the butter a great rich foil for the fleshiness of the scallops.

We finished with 2 desserts, sinc e we were all gorged. I order poached quinces that had been spiced by cloves, cinnamon and Tahitian vanilla. The quinces were very hard with no clue of the 3 spices which were very evidently promenaded upon the plate. Two bites and the rest was left. I also had an excellent 1996 Tokai with the dessert. I can’t recall Vivin’s dessert other that it involved an ice cream and brioche and was more consumed than my dish.

In the end it was a flat and disappointing evening for 2 and a great meal for 1. While I am not sure that the Michelin system is all that reliable, 1 of 3 superb dishes would merit less in my limited experience of Paris.

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