Watch out here, big Chef in the kitchen.
I’ll not hide it more, mister Guy Savoy is on the desk and control this place for more than few years now and the restaurant been granted one Michelin Stars recently (2007 I think, but please Google).
Now you wonder why I want to start by this restaurant, while I must have done other ones and far better sometime. I would like just to demonstrate for you the principle which I’ve mentioned in the introduction of the series of experiences. As I told you the art of cooking is for me mostly in the surprise, in the chock or the creativity. Since I went to Guy Savoy (the main chef empire location in Paris), I’ve felt the pleasure of food and the pleasure of being amazed in a way by the art of food and flavor.
First of all, it’s always an excitement when you arrive in a freshly awarded place. Why? just because the staff is in a strong performance mood. Everything need to be perfect, and not only what you have in your plate, but mostly anything.
So from the moment we got in to the time we left, we had an incredible experience.
To start with, we noticed the decoration, a kind of combination of modern and classical in a gray deep overall tone. Quite an interesting choice for a restaurant, may sound depressing but it’s not. But the interesting thing to notice is this succession of long walls made fully of rare and pricy bottles of wine. Quite a clever idea, as I spent almost ten minutes turning around in the full restaurant “drooling” like a dog watching a bone….I was literally transported to Burgundy and other Bordeaux famous wines.
Then the diner starts, we choose the tasting menu (always the best of the chef) which we checked few week before was reasonably priced for Paris, and from this stage, I remember two mains courses.
The first course (actually the second starter) may sounds simple, but in fact it’s not at all the case. Do you know what are Jerusalem artichokes? you maybe barely bump into this vegetable, or you never paid attention to it in any market. It’s ugly, look more like roots and can be easily mix up with ginger. It’s also called topinanbur.
But be careful, this forgotten roots is just a pure delicacy and especially when this is prepared in a perfect “purée”. I’ve got an enormous respect for people who are peeling the roots. So long, so hard, so painful (I did many times, I hate it). But this is the force and quality of this kind of restaurant, to give us the chance to appreciate things which are non common and difficult to prepare. This time, the combination was simple but very interesting. Scallops, simply roasted “from fear*”, “purée” of Jerusalem Artichokes, red wine reduction and some fresh Golden Chanterelle (Girolles) slighly roasted. Just exquisite, just perfect and so simple. The taste of the topinanbur is so surprising as, like is english name says, it’s a yonder family of the artichokes. Therefore, this magic mash artichoke sounds like a purée of soften artichokes hearts. And this is suiting perfectly the scallops.
The second recipe is just the perfect signature of Mister Guy Savoy. The combination of classic and modern. Perfection of Idea and just the astonishment of the non conventional hence leading to creativity. As anyone, you had either the best “pot au feu” made either by your grand-ma or an old aunty. Or maybe you had that made over a nice family lunch over the country side. The pot au feu is this mix of beef meat cooked for hours in a simple cooking pot full of water and various vegetables such as carrots, leak, turnips, sometime even courgettes or cabbage. One very important ingredient are the cloves, giving all the substance to the broth. Never be mean with using them….put a lot….it’s giving the main flavor here.
Another important choice is the beef cut to be used. Always the best and tender cut. This will prevent the meat to be too hard on the teeth, as the full cooking is long (usually 4 hours). And now comes the chef, the master. Obviously you can expect the best from a 3*** chef. But you’ll not just expect the best “pot of feu”. It would have been too simple.
Here comes the service of the main course in two steps. First round of waiters (always with a smile of course)…. “this is the chef main of the menu tonight, Madame, Monsieur, hope you’ll enjoy this nice pot au feu “façon**” Rossini“. And indeed, at this moment you think “oh my god, the chef is crazy”. Indeed you look at the plate and you see in front of you a perfectly dressed piece of beef, cook just a little “medium rare”, but no blood, almost “pink” which is unusual for a beef cooking style. Just two big simple slices of perfectly cooked prime cut beef, dressed above a stunning combination of carrots, and turnips. All shiny, and already smelling the flavor of your childhood. And then you notice above the quite good amount of delicacy diamond i.e. a perfectly cooked slice of raw “foie gras” from the Landes cover up by a large slice of black truffle mushroom.
And then second step, the “finale”, when the second waiter arrives with a flask of “smelly” broth elixir and pour a suitable volume of mixture in the plate, making sure he is not dropping any juice on the meat and the vegetables, but only surround the pyramid.
Then we had a long grin on the face. Like spoil kids receiving an extra side with the simple but excellent “pot au feu”, but just having the special gift. The Foie Gras just combine perfectly with the beef as it usually does for a “Tournedo Rossini***”.
Chiberta was a great moment and I’ll go back. This is a really good choice for a reasonable price in Paris. As you can tell, the memory is still there. I would advise you to go to the Chiberta and enjoy some similar moments.
* notice than we say in french than scallops “cuisent the peur”, this means than a scallop shall be cooked less than 1 minute per side, as they’re so scared to be cooked ;o)
** term usually used to notice the way the recipe is prepared, it can be the name of a chef, or a way to prepare it. Direct translation means “at the manner of …”. e.g. “façon grand mere”, “façon Prunier”.
Rue Arsène Houssaye
75008 Paris, France
01 53 53 42 00