Monday, September 27, 2010

Ze Kitchen Galerie

We've been talking about going to the restaurant where SC is doing her stage, or internship and I'm glad someone finally took initiative and said "thats it, we're going to Ze Kitchen Galerie on Saturday, if you're in let me know, if you're not too bad" (I don't think he said that last part). It ended up being one of the favorite meals of the year, definitely my favorite meal in Paris. Apparently they had jut changed the menu that week so SC only had a few recommendations - all of which I pretty much disregarded (she recommended the duck or the whiting for the entree).

The space itself is not much to look at I don't think - its set up somewhat like an art gallery with white walls and contemporary artwork. Not my cup of tea but, it has an open kitchen (love when restaurants that let you see their kitchens and what the chefs and cooks are doing) in line with its theme of being an artist's studio/living space/gallery. And the food which is French with an Asian (mostly Thai) twist...well, read on...

All four of us started off with a bouillon. The Thai broth with octopus, shimp and ginger confit looked ridiculously good - I only tried a tiny bit of the broth (epi-pen was standing by in case, oh, I don't know, some sturgeon sneaked in there?)

But you know what was ridiculously good that I almost licked my bowl clean? My cepe (porcini) and lemongrass broth with artichokes, cepes and spicy condiment (no clue what was in the spicy condiment, nor did I find it spicy, or even notice it for that matter but whatevs!). The lemongrass flavor cut through the meatiness of the mushrooms in a pleasantly unexpected and refreshing way.

And then came the plats with what would become one of the best entrees I have eaten in my life - certainly the best veal preparation (sorry baby cows, you're cute but you're too tasty for me to stop eating you - which I already tried once, in high school). Behold - veal cheek confit with tamarind, black olive condiment (the blobs) and Thai jus.

It's really not much to look at. A few chunks of meat strewn here and there, with some red sauce, some zucchini and (a lone?) sliver of eggplant to liven up the colors. I actually think that the entire sauce part was a tamarind sauce and the red canapes were some kind of tomato puree (trust me, I know tamarind when I taste it, and I think I also know what tomatoes are, even if I don't know what Thai jus entails) . But the veal cheeks were so fall-apart tender (according the SC, they get braised and then sous-vided) and the sauce was swoon-worthy and played up the sweet-and-sour taste of tamarind and the tomato canapes were so sweet and...sorry, had to wipe some drool off my keyboard and compose myself again. Lets move on to other, no-less mouthwatering dishes.

Voila! My dining companion across from my ordered the tempura of soft shell crab with grilled squid, white beans from paimpol and finished with a thai basil emulsion. He said it was really good. All I know is that those white beans were amazing. Must have sucked to sit across from me as I kept reaching over to pick at some more...

I'm also glad I got to try the duck - I love duck but I don't love foie gras and this duck from challans with a plum-mostarda condiment also came with foie gras. Oui s'il vous plait to the duck but non merci to the foie. It was a perfectly medium duck with a spot-on texture that they sous-vide and then sear (but my favorite still goes to that one dinner at A Voce in NYC when Carmellini was still the chef...le drool again). And it came with what look like beets to me. I heart beets.

And lastly the grilled Merlan (whiting) with Kalamenji (quoi?!) vinaigrette and Thai curry jus. Isn't is gorgeous to look at? That's bok choy and (maybe) arugula on top. I wasn't in the mood for fish and I'm actually not a huge fan of whiting (I find it somewhat tasteless) but if you like whiting, this might just be the holy grail of preparation for it. The sauce was definitely tasty.

AB couldn't bring himself to finish the foie gas and SC claimed she was full (granted, she eats these things all day, but in a deconstructed version) but SM and I became members of the clean-plate club (him moreso than me).

Ce quoi ca? Gifts!

We like gifts, especially when they are gifts from the kitchen (kudos to SC). We had each ordered a different dessert on the menu (there are a total of five) and the one we didn't order - corn soup with soy, rice pudding and miso marmalade - was brought out for each of us.
I'm not sure what those crunchy things were - it had the texture of toasted coconut, so maybe it was that - but the taste was pure corn sweetness which uncannily reminded me of the semolina porridge I use to eat when I was a wee-little korovka living in a communist country. Ah, childhood.

With our real desserts, SC ordered the fig cake with ginger-jasmine ice cream which also came with what seemed to be a raspberry reduction and SM went with the white-chocolate wasabi ice cream with pistachio condiment.

I enjoyed my Reine Claude and Mirabelle plum confit with lemon-green apple jelly and caramel apple sorbet but secretly wished I had ordered the gelee'd coconut with praline and gianduja that AB ended up ordering (it was a compromise I made so we all could order different desserts). It was like a coconut milk panna cotta with hazelnut chocolate. So good.

A sweet ending to a most seriously delicious meal.

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