So here I am at the Lecture Room and Library. We moved here from the East Bar (which was quite an experience and I will blog about that spot later).
The Lecture Room & Library is reminiscent of an old school French countryside house, with luxurious plush sofas, decadent lighting and a beautiful exotic carpets. We savour the view before settling into our dinner.
We have a champagne with some mini tasters to start proceedings. The champagne is the Champagne Sanger, which is a basic champagne, made by young aspiring winemakers (future champagne makers of the large houses). It is a good basic champagne to start the night. A taste of the future.
Summer Oyster from Yvon Madec / Noras Pepper / Cherries / Anchovies / Cauliflower
Seaweed Consommé / Fennel Vinaigrette with Matcha Tea
The beautiful creamy, slimy oyster has a rich “taste of the sea” saltiness which it exudes with every bite. The pepper adds some bite, the cherries a distinct sour sweet taste, the anchovy a rich oily saline flavour and crunchiness of the cauliflower mix together to form a symphony of tastes and textures which sing the perfect tune on your taste buds.
In terms of layering there is also the salt and distinctive taste of the seaweed consumme, the refreshing mild taste of the matcha (powdered green tea) and tang of the fennel vinaigrette. I just love the interaction of textures and flavours in this dish.
The dish is paired with the Anjou Blanc, A Francois(e), Thibaud Boudignon (2012).
The wine releases beautiful citrus aromas to introduce itself. It has a fresh, powerful fruit (citrus and some exotic hints), fresh minerality with a beautiful saline finish, the perfect match for the oyster.
Lightly Smoked Langoustine / Shellfish / Confit Tomatoes /
Redcurrant and Mange Tout / White Beer
The langoustine is sweet, succulent and a treat on this own. Then you have the succulent shellfish (contained in the broth) with their own rich succulent flavours. The broth which has a strong flavour but does not overpower the langoustine. The residual spice of the white beer and the rich flavour of the olive oil from Surat (Spain) provides a distinctive flavour overlay to the dish. The langoustine is the king of this dish.
Palette (Blanc), Chateau Simone (2010)
The wine pairing is interesting. This wine has complex flavours. It is very difficult to describe or to be specific on the taste due to its complexity, but I will try. It has a mix of a resin, floral, herb and fruity taste with seriously intense fresh minerality and woody finish.
White Summer Truffle / Veal Gnocchi / Baby Leeks / Artichokes and Courgette
Foie Gras Veloute Périgueux
The truffles has its own distinct flavor, while the veal gnocchi has the moist grainy potato texture with the rich juices of the veal intact. The artichokes and courgette provide some substance to the dish, which is dominated by the flavours and scent of the truffles and richness of the foie gras. Its a very rich, decadent and exquisite dish.
The wine pairing is the Priorat, Terrra de Cunques, Terrior al Limit (2011)
The wine is made from Pedro Zimenez and Muscat grapes and is perfect to cut through the fat of the foie gras. What make this a little special is the perfume of the Muscat, which shines through from the glass. It is crisp with a savoury flavour and full of minerals with every mouthful. The nature of the soil has been transferred to the grapes with a discernible stony hint on the palate.
Roasted Wild Turbot with Garlic
Beef Heart Cabbage / Aubergine Caviar
Sauce «a la Minute» / Cucumber and Melon with Mint
The turbot is a stand out. It is roasted and retains its distinct flavour, but also absorbs (turbots absorb liquids during cooking, which makes them very good for poaching and roasting) the garlic flavours.
The Sauce a la Minute utilises the butter used to cook the turbot (and with its juices) with more butter added to emulsifie the sauce. Then tomato is stirred to it to create the perfect reduction to pair with the turbot. The cabbage is on top of the creamy aubergine caviar. The soft paste of the aurbergine caviar also offers a different texture to the turbot. The cucumber melon and mint are lovely refreshing side to pair with the succulent turbot and offset the richness of sauce.
The dish is paired with a Philippe Pacalet, Nuits-St Georges (2011).
The wine is a Pinot Blanc wine from Burgundy. It is very rare given Burgundy is known for their reds and even those that stray to whites, it is certainty not known for their Pinot Blanc. The wine displays strong fruit flavours with apple, grapefruit, gooseberry and range of citrus fruits with a clear and fresh acidity. Interacts beautifully with the turbot without overpowering the delicate nature of the dish.
French Pigeon Fillet / Royal Gala and Fresh Grape Bigarade
Confit Red Pepper / Swiss Chard Julienne
Red Beetroot Reduction with a Hint of Mustard
The pigeon is rich moist and flavourful and paired with the traditional fruit and sweet flavours which accompanies most game meat. The sweetness of the beetroot, apples, grape and citrus work very well with the pigeon – very poetically indeed. The tang of mustard provides a light touch at the end. The confit red pepper and swiss chards are lovely from a texture and a taste. They are not particularly integrated into the dish, but taste fine on a standalone basis.
The wine is paired with the Cheautau Chambrun, Lalande de Pomerol (2009).
The wine is Merlot focused, with the Cabernet Franc content being only 6%. It is an outstanding wine with the tastes of sweet dark fruits (notably blackberries), charcoal and graphite notes with the light hint of sweet chocolate which makes a perfect pairing for a game dish. The wine has a beautiful full bodied velvety texture to make for the perfect drinking experience.
Crunchy Feuillete with Reblochon / Baby Spinach with Parmesan
Peach Slices with Pistachio / Kirsh Chantilly
Texture contrast of Feuillete and Reblochon is a thing of pure beauty. The leafy baby spinach wrapped in a soft sharp parmesan is amazing. With the sharpness of the parmesan shining through the taste. The peach adds a lovely stone fruit sweetness to the dish, while the pistachios provide a gravel crunch to a dish with relatively smooth textures. The Chantilly adds to the creamy nature of this dish – its such a rich experience.
The wine pairing was a Sancerre, Cuvee Paul Francois Cotat (2006).
It is the epitome of a Loire Valley sauvignon blanc. It has beautiful honey flavours balanced with acidity to complement the cheese with an overall crisp mouth taste.
Pierre Gagnaire’s Grand Dessert
There is a lot here, so I will touch on the high points of the dessert tasting menu. Light Dessert Snacks
Bavaroise of White Peach and Orgeat Syrup / Chocolate Ice Cream / Guanaja Ganache
Coffee “Merinquoise” / Kahlúa / Bailey’s Irish Cream / Prune Paste
The soft fall apart in your mouth meringue is a sweet and beautiful experience with the fruitiness of the prune paste providing an interesting interlude.
Thai and Pink Grapefruits / Fromage Blanc Sorbet / Lemon Sorbet / Crystallized Blackberries
Declension of Blackcurrants: Parfait / Tuile / Syrup / Crushed
Nougatine / Cherry Confit / Valrhona Jivara Chocolate Mousseline / Hazelnuts
This was my favourite. The rich crunchy chocolate with hazelnuts and soft distinct nougat. The sensation of the chocolate melting inside your mouth and the crunchiness of the hazelnuts made for an amazing tasting experience.
Red Fruit Linzer Tartlet / Apricot and Rosemary Jam / Raspberry Coulis / Strawberry Gel
The crumbly sweet tart with the brilliant sweetness of the gel, jams and coulis provided for one of those oh so sweet “cookies that grandma used to bake” experiences.
The variety of the desserts meant I found that the wine didn’t specially pair with any specific dessert tasting.
Coteaux du Layon-St Aubin, Domaine des Barres (2011)
The wine was a very sweet white from the Loire Valley with slight minerality. It was a very smooth easy drinking wine.
As the review above reads, this is a venue with quality cuisine, great wine pairing, a wonderful setting with very knowledgeable staff. It is what one would expect from a restaurant of this stature.
Overall, the wine pairing was a standout with a unique selection French wines which you would probably not experience at any other tasting menu and the tailoring of the wines to match the first six courses were the definition of creativity and quality. The sommelier was excellent.
The dishes were excellent with different layers of sauces and creative culinary techniques. The waiters knowledge of the techniques themselves (which were recited with no need to speak to the kitchen) was amazing. Although there was a lot of creativity, the actual produce shone through in all of the dishes.
A couple of points of drawbacks. I think the dessert was quite a lot to get through and I think one or two less desserts and an extra savoury course (possibly a meat dish – lamb or beef) would have been preferred, to allow an extra red wine pairing (there was only one red). Not a criticism, just a view of personal preference.
On a logistics point, I was advised that flash photography was not allowed. So I used a light on my phone to illuminate the dishes prior to taking, however was told that was not allowed either. Given the dim lighting of the venue, it made the capturing of the dishes very difficult. This is why the photo qualities do vary throughout and white background of the menu was used in certain wine shots.