Category Archives: Michelin

Quique Dacosta 2017: Terroir and history

16992200_1225335157535267_4256279803511112785_o

DNA La Búsqueda, that is the name of the new culinary proposal of three Michelin starred chef, Quique Dacosta, for 2017 at his restaurant in Denia. It fully puts the attention of his clients on his terroir. And boy do we know how much Quique loves his terroir! From flavours of his childhood to typical preparations of local shepherds from the hills behind Denia to the delicious rice from the region, and of course the magnificent seafood, with the absolutely queen, the Red Prawn of Denia… Taste combined with ancient techniques with a personal Quique twist, that is why you should travel to this restaurant! A unique cooking style with a razor sharp view on how a plate should look, smell, taste…

To make things complete, there’s a magnificent wine list with really interesting price levels and the exceptional service by Didier Fertilati and his team.

In a world were trends and techniques are copied and duplicated at warp speed, it is so satisfying to see a chef with a clear vision, with respect for his terroir and culinary heritage and most of all, with an almost obsessional love for his profession….

website

(pictures courtesy of Quique Dacosta Restaurant)

 

PREMIÈRE ÉDITION DES «SUCRÉS DU LUX»

Hier, lundi 28 novembre, La Cristallerie restaurant gastronomique de l’Hôtel Le Place d’Armes a eu l’honneur d’accueillir la première édition des «Sucrés du Lux».

A l’initiative d’Yves Jehanne, Chef Pâtissier du Place d’Armes, «Les Sucrés du Lux» réunit des pâtissiers passionnés et passionnants autour d’un thème précis afin de partager, d’échanger et de promouvoir leur vision sucrée en repoussant leurs limites mais sans compétition aucune, hormis celled’épater les copains !

• Benoît Leitchnam
Chef Pâtissier de la Hôtel de préfecture de Moselle, Ambassadeur au championnat de France de desserts

• Liberty Ducarme
Fondatrice Sweet Factory // Come à la Maison

• Lionel Marchand
Chef Pâtissier de l’Hôtel Le Royal

• Jonathan Schneider
Chef Pâtissier du Pain de Mary

• Youri Neyers
Chef Pâtissier du Restaurant Schéiss
Champion du monde de pâtisserie en 2003

• Yves Jehanne
Chef Pâtissier de l’Hôtel Le Place d’Armes

Yves était soutenu dans ce projet par 5 amis de la profession: L’idée leur a parlé tout de suite, car ils ont tous un objectif commun, faire grandir la pâtisserie au Luxembourg; un art précis et distinct de la Cuisine.

Il est coutume que l’hôte choisisse le thème, ainsi pour le lancement du club Yves avait challengé les pâtissiers avec l’Exotisme.

Benoît Leitchnam a concocté un Choco/Coco/Citron, Liberty Ducarme un magnifique Sweet Brésil, Lionel Marchand une superbe Piñacolada, Jonathan Schneider la Passion de Mary qu’il déclinera pour les fêtes en bûches de Noël, Youri Neyers nous a gâté de succulents Fingers
Mojito et Yves Jehanne a préparé le Retour de Bali et la Mangue Poivre rouge du Cambodge.

Accompagnés pour la plupart de leurs proches collaborateurs ou amis du métier, les échanges respiraient la transmission et le partage, dans l’unique but de faire progresser la profession.

Il y a plus de 10 ans, en 2005, Christophe Michalak et Christophe Adam lançaient le «Club des Sucrés» pour rassembler chaque trimestre l’élite de la pâtisserie française, autour d’un theme donné par l’hôte du jour, allant de “voyage” à “fraise” en passant par “mojito”, ou encore “lait sucré”.

Cette idée a été perpétuée dans plusieurs régions de France et nous sommes fiers qu’elle s’établisse aujourd’hui au Luxembourg.

(source: communiqué de presse de l’Hôtel Le Place d’Armes)

Yes we can! High level gastronomy in Luxembourg…Ma Langue Sourit/Moutfort/L/1*

I had a very good meal at this restaurant in December 2014… As I wanted to share my experience with a few fellow foodies, I came back here this week to enjoy chef Cyril Mollard‘s most recent creations.

After a series of tasty appetizers we got off to a great start with the Moelleux de sandre, oignons des Cévennes, truffes noires, pain de mie croustillant…a perfectly executed fish quenelle with fried onions and truffle…a deep, rich flavored dish…We would love to see how this dish would taste if a saltwater fish would be used to add maybe a more intense fish taste to the quenelle…16/20

Second was the Noix de Saint-Jacques saisie, beurre salé, pieds de  brocolis, choux pointus, jus de coquillages…a lovely preparation of scallop, grilled on the shell, with textures of brocoli, green cabbage and a light creamy shellfish jus….a classic of chef Mollard and one hell of a good dish…18/20

The chef really likes to work with pork from the famous Livar pig, so we continued with Poitrine de cochon livar braisé, pomme de terre alliance, mousseline aillée et croustillante, potage parmentier...very very good…17/20

A final fish starter was served: Médaillon de lotte cuit vapeur,  épice rêve de cochin, bouillon anisé, poireaux, fenouil…again a well balanced dish showing the skill of the chef both technically and in his way of composing his dishes…17/20

We got a little extra dish the chef wanted to try on us and boy were we happy he did! The dish that came next is the textbook example of what I really look for when going to a high level gastronomic restaurant…the dish that leaves you speechless…perfect execution, perfectly balanced, great textures and flavors, well measured acidity…a thin slice of marinated John Dory, a sorbet of Kalamansi, confit Kumquats, a crunchy sesame cracker and a lovely soy based sauce….THIS IS IT….This dish makes a visit to this restaurant a MUST….really..20/20.

On to the mains…a very good heart of veal sweetbread was served with a cylinder of salsify and a mille feuille of turnip from Les Paniers de Sandrine…a local organic veg farmer..Sadly here, the veal reduction was slightly to salty…Noix de ris de veau, réglisse, salsifis, millefeuille de navets boule d’or, Sarazin torréfiés…14/20

Following this we had Pièce de Blonde d’Aquitaine rôti, poivre kumpot, carottes, moelle fumée, condiment confit , jus au genièvre…A straightforward, tasty preparation of beef aged for 45 days that worked really well…18/20

On to the last part of the meal…desserts…

First up was the Ganache chocolat Illanka du Pérou, café, crumble cacao, marron glacé… a dessert that made someone who’s not really into chocolate like me eat every last bit on the plate….the chocolate taste was not overwhelming (63% of cocoa)…great…17/20

Chef Mollard is smart enough to know that the last dish may very well be the one the customers remember best…so he decided to blow us away once more with his Tartelette citron Meyer de chez Bachès, confiture de  pamplemousse, sorbet épinette…a divine combination of delicate, perfect pastry, airy light lemon foam and a pine sorbet…magical!!!…19/20

In december I was already impressed and happy to find this level of cooking but what Cyril showed us today was without doubt some of the best cooking I enjoyed in Luxembourg so far…

A special mention also for the sommelier who, after the bottle of white from the already legendary Abi Duhr which we picked ourselves, made us discover two really nice reds, one from the south of France and one from Germany (Pfalz)…he did a great job!

Service was, as always, very efficient, friendly and professional.

Conclusion

Yes we can!!! High level gastronomy in Luxembourg…it’s possible…this is cooking that can stand the test of comparison with many ‘fine dining’ restaurants in Europe…I even see potential for this restaurant to be amongst Europe’s finest in a few years…I’ll definitely be back….soon…

Based on today’s visit, I give Ma Langue Sourit an overall rating of 18/20

http://www.mls.lu

IMG_0001 IMG_0002 IMG_0003 IMG_0004 IMG_0005 IMG_0006 IMG_0007 IMG_0008 IMG_0009 IMG_0010 IMG_0011 IMG_0012

DINNER BY HESTON/London (UK)/2*/SPTOP50 N°5

IMG_7377_3I have to confess, I waited an awful long time to go to Dinner by Heston Blumenthal. A chef, creating some of the most innovative dishes/dining experience revisiting some historic dishes dating back to the 16th Century…It felt awkward…I couldn’t help thinking about liquefied black pudding and stuffed colibri ice cream….no thanks… Also, the stratospheric rise of Dinner all the way to the 5th place in the 2014 San Pellegrino Ranking of the world’s best restaurants made me suspicious…

All changed when my friend Mark Hastings made a move from general manager at Hakassan’s HKK to Dinner. On one of my trips in late 2014, I decided to drop by and say hi as a welcome pause from shopping at Harrods with the Mrs. I was immediately won over… Mark gave me a tour of the beautiful dinning room, overlooking Hyde Park and of the huge kitchen with the number one eye catcher…the wood fire over which the pineapples for the epic Tipsy Cake were being roasted. On top of this, a few of my Belgian Foodie Friends and Chefs had been to Dinner during this period and they were all enthusiastic about their visit…

So, after a few long weeks of waiting, it was my turn to step into the kitchen of Dinner to take my place at the Chef’s table, next to the pass, for a dinner I would not soon forget! Indeed, only here can you have the tasting menu. Subject to seasonal changes, it is composed of eight delightful dishes. The rest of the restaurant is à la Carte…quite impressive at a 2* level…especially if you know that they serve several hundreds of customers a day here…Madness!!!

As the Executive Head Chef of Dinner, Ashley Palmer-Watts was working very hard with Heston on the other side of the globe for the opening of the Fat Duck Melbourne; one of the excellent sous-chefs was at the pass tonight, Allan Herrick. Allan took all the time we needed to explain every single dish and to answer all our questions. At the same time he mastered evening service in the most perfect way. A Buddhist temple could not have been quieter and calmer than this kitchen, except for Allan’s occasional announcements to his staff and their swift ‘Yes Chef’ replies. Service tonight was in the very competent hands of Andrew Lewis; he did a brilliant job at making us feel at home in this very special place in London.

Back to the food…here’s what we had tonight:

Hay Smoked Mackerel (c.1730)
Lemon salad, gentleman’s relish, wood sorrel & smoked roe
IMG_7359_3
An assortment of tasty raw vegetables (mainly salads), cold smoked (on hay) mackerel, gentleman’s relish (a delicious garlic and anchovy based sauce historically used as a preservation method)…the freshness and acidity of the veg worked really well with the fatty smoky fish and the relish lifted this dish to the next level… 18/20

 

 

Roast Scallops (c.1830)
Cucumber ketchup, roasted cucumber, bergamot & borage

IMG_7360_3Scottish hand dived scallop, roasted, with a zingy cucumber ketchup made of chardonnay vinegar, cucumber juice and pickled sjallots, roasted cucumber (vacpacked and finished on the plancha) and herbs. Again an outstanding dish bringing together very balanced flavours and textures. Pure delight. 19/20

 

 

Meat Fruit (c. 1500)
Mandarin, chicken liver & foie gras parfait, grilled bread

IMG_7369_3Truly legendary dish in itself makes a visit to Dinner worth your while… The most amazingly smooth, creamy chicken liver and foie gras parfait, covered in a triple dip layer of mandarin jelly, using freezing techniques to obtain an identical texture as the actual skin of a mandarin. Presented with a generous slice of toast, grilled in the Josper oven. It takes no less than three days to make a meat fruit…and in one week, Dinner serves out over a staggering one thousand meatfruits! Perfect. 20/20

IMG_7374_3

 

Frumenty (c.1390)
Grilled octopus, smoked sea broth, pickled dulse & lovage
IMG_7392_3
Next up was grilled octopus, cooked tender at 85°C for four hours, garlic butter coating and seared on the plancha. Served with loveage emulsion, a deep smokey sea broth, seaweeds and pickeled Buddha’s Hand. Great dish. 18/20

IMG_7382_3

 

Chicken cooked with Lettuces (c. 1670)
Grilled onion emulsion, spiced celeriac sauce & oyster leaves


IMG_7399_3
Succulent perfectly prepared juicy chicken, crisp wedges of chicken skin, lettuce, mayonnaise, oysterleave…aka Chicken Oyster….amazing flavours and textures, once again… 19/20

 

Beef Royal (c. 1720)
Slow-cooked short rib of beef, roast onion, calf’s tongue, red wine, anchovy &truffle

IMG_7409_3After all the very original, but high level dishes, we felt that this dish brought us back to reality… Of course, the 66 hours slow-cooked beef short rib, truffle, smoked carrots, mushroom ketchup and triple cooked fries were technically perfect and yes, if I had just this dish, I would have been very happy about it, but somehow, the magic, which was so well built up, seemed a bit lost here… 16/20

 

IMG_7413_3

 

Gingerbread Ice Cream (c.1600)
Salted caramel, mulled wine poached pear & smoked walnut

IMG_7414_3Very nicely presented winter dessert with the full flavours of lush ginger bread and mulled wine…and pear, but hey…I am to extatic about the next one that I will just keep it at this… 16/20

 

 

 

 

Tipsy Cake (c. 1810)
Spit roast pineapple

IMG_7420_3Simply EPIC dessert…you HAVE to eat this one at least once in your life!!!!!! Spit roast, syrup coated pineapple….gently roasted over a wood fire in a corner of the kitchen…served with a cocotte filled with the lightest, airiest brioche I ever had, sugar coated and with the most divine caramel at the bottom of the cocotte….wow, just wow…..THIS IS AMAZING….. 20/20

 

 

Nitro Ice Cream Trolley

IMG_7451_3A reference to the almost scientific approach of food at the Fat Duck in Bray with this last dessert…A Crème Anglaise is turned into ice cream using a specially designed tableside icemaker and liquid nitrogen… More of an attraction than a real culinary treat if you ask me…but then again, I was still floating on a wave of pure delight following the Tipsy Cake 😉 15/20

 

IMG_7430_3

 

CONCLUSION: OVERALL RATING

18,50/20

At 200 GBP a head, the tasting menu may seem to come at a steep price, but to me, this experience was worth every penny. Having the chance of tasting all these divine dishes, seeing them being prepared just feet away from where you are sitting, having access to the chef, getting all the explanations and the excellent spotless service made this to me one of the very best restaurant experiences I ever had. Of course, I would return any day in the main dining room because I am sure that the meatfruit, the tipsy cake and all the other dishes are equally delicious sitting here 😉

www.dinnerbyheston.com

Table d’Amis/Matthieu Beudaert/Kortrijk (B)/1*

Matthieu Beudaert and his charming wife, Sofie Delbeke are about to spend their last week at the initial location of their Kortrijk based 1* restaurant Table d’Amis. Indeed, they are leaving the current 1892 built house and move to a new location in the historic center of Kortrijk.

So I was just in time for my first visit to the place where it all started, where the Michelin star was won…

Matthieu serves very nice, daily changing dishes based on arrivals of high quality produce like prime Spanish veal and superb fish. He cooks clever, well balanced dishes with a lot of care for maintaining the identity of the main ingredient in every dish.

Tonight we went for the à la carte, but for sure I’ll try his tasting menu next time. The delicious sweetbreads , the superb veal, cooked to perfection…the perfectly matured cheeses….everything was high level and a great motivation for a next visit!!!

I wish Matthieu and Sofie the best of luck at their new place and I will certainly visit them once they have settled in… They are friendly, passionate and very down to earth people who love their job and who take great pride in what they do.

A restaurant to watch…www.tabledamis.be

IMG_7707

IMG_7710

IMG_7713

IMG_7702

IMG_7714

IMG_7715

IMG_7699

IMG_7704

IMG_7711

IMG_7700

A place full of history…and great food: La Paix/David Martin/1*/Anderlecht (B)

Brasserie La Paix/David Martin/Anderlecht (B)/1*

This beautiful brasserie opposite the former Anderlecht meat market/slaughterhouse is a historic place. It opened its doors in 1892 and was a favourite amongst butchers and meat wholesalers for decades. They would come in, early in the morning for their sandwich (pistolet) with minced meat (gekapt) and a pint of world famous Geuze to wash away the adrenaline and excitement from the market. It has been in the same family for generations.

Today, David Martin is behind the piano in the kitchen. His wife, Nathalie is in charge of the spectacular traditional dining room and even her parents still help a hand. David has worked in a few well known restaurants, like Bruneau.

The restaurant offers two main options: the refined and technically perfect cuisine of David and the grilled meats that have been served in this iconic place for over a century.

We opted for the first and from the photos you will see the pure delight that we have been served…of course accompanied by some of Belgium’s finest beers! Light, elegant dishes in which David perfectly integrates some Japanese elements…memories of a trip to the land of the rising sun in a not so long ago past…

At the end of my meal, the Chef took me down to the basement to show me where he aged the beautiful cuts of beef served in his restaurant…a nice experience and a real honour. For sure, this is what I’ll try during my next visit….the sooner the better actually 🙂

Despite the fact that the chef is French, it does hardly get more Belgian than here…a must visit if you want to be able to say ‘I have been to Belgium’

http://www.lapaix1892.com

IMG_7779-0

IMG_7776-0

IMG_7777-0

IMG_7778-0

IMG_7734-0

IMG_7773-0

IMG_7745

IMG_7761-0

IMG_7775-0

IMG_7774-0

MICHELIN BELUX 2015

IMG_6190 So, after Gault Millau, yesterday it was the Red Guide’s turn to announce the restaurants that they found so good in 2014 that they deserved a Michelin star….there were no restaurants that received a 2nd or 3rd so it was a bit of an inferior vintage…Nevertheless there was a huge turn out from the industry and a large part of the Belgian and Luxembourgish (Belux) Michelin starred chefs made their way to Ghent. You probably know that I have mixed feelings about guides. Obviously, even I still consider the Red Guide as a reference, even though I do not always agree with their choices when distributing the much wanted stars…the Culinary Oscars. I have specifically been struggling in the past with the relative comparability, both within a country and internationally. This has predominantly been the case for the 1* segment. I was curious to see if in 2015, things would be different…. The Belux area counts 137 Michelin starred restaurants in 2015, three 3*, seventeen 2* and one hundred seventeen 1* (of which 11 newcomers). Finally, six restaurants lost their star. It was very clear from Michael Ellis’ introductory speech, 2015 is all about going back to basics…back to ingredients and simpeler, purer preparations. This was clearly reflected in the new stars…mainly restaurants that could be qualified as ‘gastrobistros’. With classical cooking becoming seemingly unfashionable, I was very concerned that Geert Van Hecke’s De Karmeliet would have to return one of their three stars…but this wasn’t the case…He  continues for a twentieth year as one of Belgium’s 3*’s. No changes in the 2* department. So what to conclude after this edition? First of all, making a guide is one hell of a difficult job…it’s never going to be perfect and there will always be criticism. Secondly, I am not convinced that the trend towards simplicity is doing the status of the Michelin star a lot of good and last but not least…the 1* segment is again showing some painful inconsistencies. Ok, statistically this is probably unavoidable if not in the least because the fact that this segment has the largest number of restaurants…but hey, there are still very good bloggers around too 😉 They keep the pressure high and provide a very fine addition to the red guide.

Hedone, Chiswick (GB), 1*, 19/20, 06/11/2014

Last Thursday, we had the immense pleasure of returning to Hedone for our fourth visit of the year.

The consistency of the meals we had at Mikael Jonsson and Aurelie Jean Marie Flore’s this year has been amazing so after three meals at lunchtime we were back for our fourth visit, dinner this time.

With the aperitif we were served three appetizers: a beautifully balanced cherry meringue with a foie gras cream and thin slices of mushroom, a crisp cone filled with tuna and spices, packing all the typical ‘salade niçoise’ flavours and a sour dough crisp filled with Jerusalem artichoke cream topped off with some caviar. Mikael immediately had our undivided attention with these three heavenly creations (18/20).

Oyster, green apple and echalotte were the main ingredients for our first starter of the evening. The oyster was served poached, in the shell, resting on a foamy cream of apple and onion…nice dish, but could have done with a bit more saltiness and ‘seaflavour’ (16/20).

Second dish was one of the legendary Mikael Jonsson flans…. this time eggplant flavoured, topped with variations of cucumber (coulis, pickled, sorbet)…what a dish!!! This was very very good cooking and we were only just getting started! The depth of flavour in this dish was just wow…and then the subtle eggplant aroma, which worked very well with the fresh cucumber (18,5/20).

Now it was time for what will probably be part of my best starters 2014 overview: a delicate cylinder of sliced avocado, filled with apple and Dorset crab, topped of with an incredibly light, fragrant pistachio cream and finished off with a foamy curry emulsion…it doesn’t get better than this, really, a perfect dish (20/20).

Up next was a warm preparation of scallop, chestnut, Jerusalem artichoke….and a generous sprinkling of white Alba truffle…oh yeah…life can be good…what an evening, here in Chiswick….(17/20).

To follow this came a beautiful piece of wild turbot…again, with some well chosen additions…a creamy smoked potato puree, shavings of baby fennel and a black olive and olive oil sauce. To me, another perfect dish (20/20).

Even though I had the next one a few times this year, I simply cannot get enough of it…the delicious liquid parmigiano ravioli with horseradish foam. No words can describe the sensation you get when you bite into the perfectly cooked ravioli and your palate is flooded with the lush, delicately salty liquid parmigiano…Oh man…(20/20).

Five to six week Porc Noir de Bigord suckling pig came with superb Cévennes onions, quince puree and a thin slice of pear…what an ode to this kitchen style…less is more, a few first class ingredients make the day…The cracking of the crisp skin, the perfectly cooked pinkish pork, the onions….amazing (19/20).

Pickled carrots and baked and raw cèpes came with some beautiful deer for the gents, duck for one lady and monkfish for the other…a special thank you for the flexibility of chef Mikael here who wanted to accommodate all of us in the best possible way (19/20).

After a very nice cheese selection (18/20) we finished this glorious meal with two desserts. The first was a superb Raspberry/Hibiscus/Vinegar and Lemon Meringue creation which could be enjoyed this late in the year because of the mild Indian Summer we had (18/20) followed by the traditional Choc/Vanilla Ice Cream/Raspberry (16/20). We ended the evening with a chat with chef Mikael and some tasty mignardises.

We opted for the wine pairing, which is one of the best you can get, but do note that it comes with a price, 105 GBP, which could seem steep compared to the price of the Carte Blanche menu, 95 GBP. However, given the quality of the wines poured, you will not hear me complaining!

We had another great meal here and what a pleasure to see a restaurant performing so consistenly! Without the slightest doubt, I give Hedone a 19/20 rating.

No wonder that Andy Hayler (www.andyhayler.com) has come to this restaurant 52 times since it opened it’s doors just over two years ago now…this is as good as it gets…. without any distraction what so ever from what it’s really all about some of the best food and wine you’re ever going to enjoy.

IMG_0003 IMG_0001 IMG_0004 IMG_0005 IMG_0006 IMG_0002 IMG_0007 IMG_0008 IMG_0009 IMG_0010 IMG_0011 IMG_0012 IMG_0013 IMG_0014 IMG_0015 IMG_0016 IMG_0017 IMG_0018 IMG_0019