May 20, '07

The ingenuity of Le Pré Catelan

Le Pré Catelan

I have a new favourite chef in Paris and his name is Frédéric Anton. It’s not that I didn’t know him- he used to be a frequent Joel Robuchon’s guest in Gourmet TV (I was a big fan!), which is unfortunately not airing anymore. Frédéric Anton definitely stood out from other featured chefs on that program. He had a wild imagination, was very precise (In the same way as Joel Robuchon is, who was his mentor.) and was actually able to cook something that was not only creative but delicious at the same time. How could I know if the food was tasting good as it was on TV you might ask. Well, a foodie like me can smell good food from very far away, even though TV 🙂

So, to make a long story short, it was last Friday’s night and as always we had no idea where to dine. You see, it’s on Fridays evenings when you realize that you are in Paris, one of the busiest and visited cities in the world. I had my Gault Millau book in front of me and was calling to all restaurants I wanted to go: Le Chateaubriand or Bistrot Paul Bert in 11th, La Table de Joel Robuchon in 16th, anywhere we called we got the same answer- “Désolé, complet!”. Desperate to eat something good I even called to L’Astrance, but, of course, it was full.  And then, “Eureka!”, there was still one free table in Le Pré Catelan, a three Michelin stars restaurant, well hidden in Bois de Boulogne. As they say, good things happen unexpected- I was very excited to discover this place, especially, that it was not planned.

First of all, this restaurant’s location is exceptional – a Napoleon III style house in Bois de Boulogne forest that makes you feel as if you are in a fairy tale.  Something in the mood of La Grande Cascade (which is also located in that area), but even more mysterious and exclusive.

What i want to speak about is the food though.

The very first amuse-bouche we had was an excellent onion and peas soup. Slightly sweet and very fresh. You can’t see in the picture, but there were fresh green peas in the soup.

onion and peas soup
Onion and peas soup

The starter. Cooked green asparagus, Aquitaine caviar, blinis and whipped cream; poached white asparagus, Hollandaise sauce. Perfection. I begin to prefer French caviar to Russian or Iranian, as the French caviar is less salty and fresher.

Cooked green asparagus, Aquitaine caviar, blinis and whipped cream
Poached white asparagus, Hollandaise sauce

The main dish. Slowly cooked turbot covered with almonds, small capers, “cebettes” (vegetables similar to leeks), bitter almond juice.

I am not used to eating turbot with such strong flavours as almond ( I like it simply with lemon and butter sauce), but the dish was delicious. I also loved the cuttlefish risotto. Salty and a little greasy.

Slowly cooked turbot
Slowly cooked turbot
Pan-fried cuttlefish risotto, black pepper and fat juice.

The dessert. Puffed-up sugar apple, “Carambar” ice cream, cider and sparkling sugar. The dessert was something very special. In fact, even if the flavours were totally different, the idea of the dessert reminded me the dessert “Le Sucre – Violet and Lychee Sugar Sphere with Milk Ice Cream” I had last autumn in Joel Robuchon New York. Just this time, the sugar sphere was filled up with apple sorbet and it was somehow lighter than the Robuchon’s version. A wonderful and a very creative dessert.

Puffed-up sugar apple
Puffed-up sugar apple, “Carambar” ice cream, cider and sparkling sugar

I think that Fréderic Anton will continue to surprise us with his magic cuisine. Le Pré Catelan is the restaurant i would love to return again. I hope i will.

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