June 11, 2005

On 9 June 2005 we dined at Astrance in Paris and had a great time. It has been very trendy for the last few years and got its second Michelin star in March. You have to call two months in advance for a reservation, but somehow we got ours only six weeks ahead. It is a small restaurant with modern décor on a little side street off the river astrance-1.jpgroad below the Trocadero in the 16e (Metro: Passy.) The staff is all young, friendly, male and energetic. The evening menu is quite simple: 150€ or 250€ with wines en suite. That’s it. We took the second choice and didn’t see the wine list. They do ask if you have any allergies or dislikes, which we did not. I am told that they used to have you guess what the food was, but that is no longer true; they describe each dish as they serve it and the main ingredients are usually quite obvious, although the flavouring is not always. We were served a lot of courses. It seemed that everyone was not getting the same thing. Our guess is that they judge quite well how eagerly people are eating and regulate accordingly; and I think the later starters got less and different. There were quite a few fish and seafood courses, all good, but nothing to knock your socks off. Avocado crabmeat is served in half the restaurants in California, but this was simply done much better (with almond oil, not Best Foods mayonnaise.) There was one good foamy cauliflower thing in a glass that might have been Adria inspired. There was a sensational interlayered foie gras and sliced raw mushroom cake. Then there is a vegetable intermezzo with Norman cider. A roast chicken dish is the only meat, which I take to be an Arpège rip-off. There was no cheese. There was a three part cherry desert, as it is the season, followed by a cream in an eggshell (Michel Bras rip-off.) The highlight of the evening was the wines, not that they were great wines, but they were good, interesting, French and matched to the food. But we were served a different one with each course, which comes to a lot of wine even if there is only one finger per glass. The sommelier was always right there with the wine for each course just before it was served. He would ask what we thought the previous one was and then tell us what it really was. I only got one right, but he could tell that we were making reasonable guesses and we could chat with him when he had time. 


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