For a self-avowed foodie, a trip to Paris did not seem complete without a pilgrimage to a Michelin starred restaurant, preferably 3 starred. I picked L’Astrance after consulting with the boyfriend, and once we roped in a French speaking friend to secure the reservations a month in advance, we were set for my first encounter with haute cuisine in Paris.

Astrance is tucked away in an unassuming corner of th 16th arrondisement, a cozy room fitting 26 diners of which we were two at lunchtime. L’Astrance is also known for innovation and value in the realms of haute gastronomy. 3 surprise menus are available at lunchtime, the 70 euro 3-course option, the $120 6 course meal, and the $190 option that ensures you will leave with groaning from indigestion. Expensive but not astronomical. We prudently went for the middle ground (but not frugal enough to consider the smallest option), and still left eating an extraordinary amount of excellent food, from amuse bouche to mignardises.  

Foie Gras and Mushrooms

Foie Gras and Mushrooms

The first appetizer after little amuse bouches of fruit and nut nibbles and an indian themed carrot and yogurt shooter was the iconic mille feuille of foie gras and mushroom, where wafer thin layers of raw sliced mushrooms ensconce slabs of room temperature foie, over a sweet pastry base. The mushroom/foie wedge was layered and cut with surgical precision, and the taste, light, yet earthy and fungal at the same time. P’s sweet riesling paired well, and was one of our favorite of the 7 pours he got that afternoon.

scallops

scallops

A pair of scallops sat prettily with a cooked salad of radishes, turnips and edible flowers, evoking not winter but spring. A duo of purees, one peanut and the other citrus reminded me of gado gado for some reason.

shellfish in yuzu broth

shellfish in yuzu broth

The south-east asian theme seemed to extend into the fish course, a perfectly cooked piece of whitefish sitting on a peanuty base. I was most impressed however with the bowl of shellfish broth that came with the fish. Till now I remember the sensation of unnaturally sweet raw clam slithering down my throat, the concentrated flavors of the cold bonito-based broth enlivened by a fragrant yuzu oil.  

lentils, pepper and jabugo

lentils, pepper and jabugo

Chef Barbot is unafraid of incorporating global flavors, and the next dish, AOCed lentils with chorizo accents and an a slice of cured ham is thoroughly Spanish. I wish I had rice or toast to sop up the lentils, sauce and all. The meat course is usually always the most boring, but we loved our intensely flavored grilled veal, served simply with some meat sauce and fried leeks. The shiraz paired there was another high point.

one of 6 desserts

one of 6 desserts

Dessert is usually my favorite part of the meal, and L’Astrance’s line up with very strong, with 6 desserts from a grapefruit custard to a sugar cylinder layered with a sesame tuile. My favorite was a meringue roll-up filled with citrus cream. Least favorite? A fruit bowl, novelty for caucasian diners, but rote at Chinese restaurants. To add insult to injury, the lychees weren’t even that sweet!

L’Astrance is the smallest of the 3-star restaurants in the city, possible the most casual too, with a decor that is bright, modern but pedestrian and good but often slow service, given only 3 front-of-house members rather than the army of waitstaff we encountered at Taillevent later that week. The fact that we were seated in a small loft area above the main dining room, aka restaurant Siberia and had to fight to get the waitstaff’s attention did not help. However, the food is top notch and P and I relished each moment of it, of Paris, good food, the two of us and our plans to chase our Michelin etoiles!

L’Astrance

4 rue Beethoven

http://lastrance.abemadi.com/fr/r/Paris/132/

Advertisements