Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The 10 course lunch

How my 8 course (10 course if you're either (a) not good at math or (b) are stretching it) lunch at L'Assiette Champenoise in Reims went. It's a 2 star (yes I'm being a snob at the moment)...but I wasn't one when I was there. JP and I strolled in in jeans and t-shirts. We were the only ones at first and got the table smack in the middle of the restaurant with a view of the patio. And then people in suits started coming in. Apparently in very expensive cars. But anyhow...after being led in and seated, the waiter hurried over (they also followed you when you got up to go to the bathroom...)

Would you like some Champagne? Would I?! Of course I would. I'm IN Champagne! Oh, there's no prices just a ton of bottles on top of an iced cart...mmm, Rose, who cares how much it costs...And oh, yes, and later on I'd like coffee AND I'd like to drink it outside. If you could just put the heat lamp on...perfect. Merci! Why hello Mr. Chef, I don't know what you're saying to me but yes, I like your food! Merci!

Of course, to start, you get bread. Freshly baked in house, we got bread 3 or 4 more times, and an extra slab-full of butter, because we couldn't keep our hands (knives?) off the Bordier salted butter. Yes, Bordier makes an appearance, again. I tried all the breads, but the mini-baguettes were the best.

(1) A pre-amuse bouche followed by (2) an amuse bouche with chicken that had the texture of foam on top of a bed of liquefied spinach. Very strange. Very good.

And this is where the real menu starts. 

(3 + 4) King crab and grey shrimps with avocado, smoked herring eggs and boullion. What it was:

A huge chunk of king crab leg, with a shrimp sauce, grey shrimps, and smoked herring eggs on top of avocado mousse. Anyone wanna bet they used tweezers for the fish eggs, mini leaves and shrimp on the avocado? And then, a bowl of flaked king crab leg with grey shrimp in a crab sauce. I don't like crab. Or shrimp. And yes, I had some but JP ended up eating my crab leg. And I just checked their menu online and that course, a la carte, is €52 which is almost what my entire tasting menu cost...And some more bread here

(5) The best part of the meal. Cochon Noir de Gascogne. Or, in other words, PORK! Presented three ways (pork belly, a crunchy bacon disk, and some other porky goodness) on a bed of lentils. This is delicious. And some more bread (and butter).

(6) Cheese course! It was cheese from Philippe Olivier (not that I knew who that is but now I do). We are in France after all. A huge domed cheese cart is wheeled over, I let the fromage guy pick mine for me, because I was way too overwhelmed. I just told him to go with the soft cheeses, and to include epoisses (so stinky, so good). And you don't just eat your cheese, you eat it in a particular order as dictated by said fromage man. JP doesn't like cheese but you can't skip a cheese course, especially if its paid for! I told cheese man to give him harder cheeses, so he got like...parmesan and gruyere. They give you different bread for cheese, you don't get to pick. So more bread here!

(7) Time for my dessert! Wait no, that's not my dessert. It was a huge spread of petit-fours (profiteroles, canneles, some kind of mini sugared hot dough), chocolates, candies, cotton candy (yes, cotton candy), marshmallows and who knows what else. We ate 90% of it and took the lollipops with us. 

(8) Ok, HERE is my dessert. I don't remember what it was. It was full of lemons though. Lemon curd, lemon sauce, lemon sorbet, and some meringue in there somewhere. JP got a ball of white chocolate with some more white chocolate and something...

(9) Like I said, coffee time! We asked to sit outside but they were going to propose it anyway. And of course, its not just coffee, they also give you chocolate squares to go along with it. Which I proceeded to drop all over me when I was trying to show JP how the heat lamp had melted them. Yes, melted chocolate all over me. Fantastic.

(10) Oh why not just make this an even 10 courses? They give you a brioche to take home at the end.

So the tasting menu was only €59 per person. But if you're going all out, you pair it with wine, which we did. So after 3.5 hours of wining and dining and sitting and taking a work conf call for a good 50 minutes while JP was drinking his coffee, we left a little poorer (somehow €59 per person turned into a €250 bill) and a little heavier, but also just a smidgen happier.

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