Paris, October 2014 – Following a wonderful lunch at Pierre in Hong Kong, Restaurant Pierre Gagnaire (#17 Best Restaurant in 2012) was at the top of my bucket list. It was a beautiful autumn day, when Mr. King and I visited the Michelin 3-star flagship restaurant of “the father of modern French cuisine”.
Early on in the 1990s, Gagnaire broke away from the conventions of classic French cooking by introducing jarring juxtapositions of flavors, tastes, textures, and ingredients. Gagnaire is an icon in the culinary world and at the forefront of the fusion cuisine. In 2015, Gagnaire won a Best Chef in the World award.
His restaurant is inside the small luxury Hotel Balzac, located off the Champs-Elysées near the Arc de Triomphe end. At a glance, there were no more than 10 tables spread across the contemporary and elegant dining room.
The Gagnaire Spirit is best described in his own words: “The notion of balance is essential and I am particularly attuned to it. This notion of a team is essential and I am very conscious of it. It is me who imagines the dish, who conceives and gives it impetus. It is the people who work around me every day who translate this and build on it using their own abilities. For a dish should be good. To be good it needs to be open to the entire palette of emotions.” (Pierre Gagnaire)
Le déjeuner (lunch) was essentially a 3-course menu, but there was a twist to it. The Cocktail de poche or appetizer was actually a medley of 5 dishes. Instead of serving each individually, the waiter brought all 5 to the table at once. Mr. King and I almost didn’t know where to begin!
Rillette of young rabbit flavored with kumbawa, palm tree heart, carrot juice.
Smoked haddock milk thickened with potatoes, burnt avocado and grey shrimps.
Green pepper granite, Green velvety soup and razor clams.
Sardine: glazed, raw spiced with paprika, duxelle of Paris mushrooms thickened with a parsley infusion.
White beans from Paimpol, octopus and eggplant from Florence, cecina, crunchy sage leaf.
The main course was veal breast spiced with mace simmered in the oven with citrus fruits, served with sweet onions and grapefruit au gratin, corn cream sauce and wild mushrooms pie.
Last but not least, dessert time. Another medley of “some Pierre Gagnaire desserts” arrived along with a verbena plant. I ordered the verbena tea, and the waiter added the freshly clipped off verbena leaves from the plant into my teacup.
One could sense the attentiveness to details in each presentation. We appreciated that each morsel of food was so delicate – thoughtfully conceptualized and faithfully executed.
The holder of 13 Michelin-stars, Pierre Gagnaire is still at the top for his game – experimenting and bringing imaginative cuisine to the table.
All photos were taken by Mrs. King.