The food was served in dainty little portions, beautifully plated.
To start, we had Tomato Gazpacho with Mustard Ice-Cream. A chilled light tomato based soup - with its flavours softened and mellowed by the melted down mustard ice-cream with the tiniest still crunchy croutons. It was served in an espresso cup with a doll-house sized spoon next to it. A recipe for a basic gazpacho can be found here.
King Prawns with Asparagus with Citrus Vinaigrette and Acacia Honey was next. Now those sea prawns were burstingly-fresh and the asparagus was tender/al-dente and married well with the mild tangy dressing.
A Corinthian-style Seabass followed, served on top of a bed of semolina with aromatic herbs, almond emulsion with orange blossom. I loved this dish as the seabass was very fresh; lightly browned on top, with a tender, creamy and flaky inside.
Next came the Fillet and Cutlet of Lamb with Eggplant Bayaldi with Herbs and Crispy Onions. Jean Eric, Le Meurice's Food and Beverage Manager joined us at this point and I begged him to tell me how to produce such tender, juicy, flavourful lamb.
Ahhh, he refused to share his trade secrets and finally admited that you just start with the freshest ingredients you can get your hands on and then use the choicest parts only .....
Conversation halted temporarily and was replaced by sighs, long and short, murmers and moans of appreciation and little cries of omg's...... When we arrived at the end of this course, we unanimously agreed that this was the favourite for everyone.
After the incredible lamb, we certainly needed this to calm ourselves down. A refreshing timble of sorbet with tiny French Pastries; the chocolate almost set us all off again.
and finally, dessert was Roasted Heart of Pear with Vanilla with Tonka Bean Tuille and Caramel Ice Cream. The heart 0f pear was sitting on a bed of mashed sweet pear, topped with a crispy tuille with the caramel ice-cream balanced on top.
So simple but such a perfect ending to a meal using ingredients we are not unfamiliar with, but prepared in an exciting and yet gentle, loving and unintimidating manner. If the Empire Hotel holds another promotion such as this in the future, don't miss it.
Regretfully, we didn't get to meet Chef Yannick Elleno, but Jean Eric was totally charming and gracious. Patiently he stood by our table, answering our questions and giving interesting bits of information about the menu and ingredients.
He also obligingly wrote down the names of wines which he would pair with the meal (if we had wine that is!!). Here he is and here is a snapshot of the menu with his wine recommendations. I'm always excited to meet people who can talk food with such passion for ages so I was thrilled by our conversation. He appeared to be happy with being monopolised with us too. Thank you, Jean-Eric.
And for Hafiza of the Empire Hotel, we enjoyed your company and thank you for being such a gracious host. I apologise if we were all a bit slow to start our courses as we each painstakingly took several pictures before picking up our cutlery.
Lastly I will leave you with a photo of Christine, being led by the Phantom through the labyrinth below the Paris Opera House. Doesn't the lagoon pool look mysteriously still and calm in the dark?
Please visit Anak Brunei, Tina & M's blogs for more. Links are on the right. (All food photos here are taken from M's blog, thanks M).
- I like the fact that there were no salt & pepper shakers on table although I noticed some s & p in little pots in the service areas on my way out so some guests may have asked for these. Personally I felt that any extra seasoning will mar the flavours so carefully created by the Chef. But each to their own.
- Quite long breaks (up to 20 mins) between each course. Some people may become impatient, but the conversation on our table was as sparkling as the champagne as I wished we had, so the time between each course did not bother me at all.
- I like to admire my food and look at it in all its glory before eating so I would have preferred more lighting on our table. AB's camera flash came in handy during these moments.
If you were at the dinner too on Sat, or any of the earlier nights, I would love to hear your comments too.