Review: Antoine

8 October 2015

After two evenings of rather disappointing dining in Paris, I was not very optimistic for my third and final dinner. Last night in Akrame was rather disappointing to be sure, but was still far better than the disaster that is Hexagone

I had an even longer day, running through more than half of the arrondissements. I was completely knackered when I got back to my room, but I got myself sorted and pushed off across town once again to have dinner just north of the Seine.

Tonight’s dinner was at Antoine, which boasts a single Michelin star. Not many people rave about this place, but from what I read it’s a safe place. Frankly, I’m sick of places people “rave” about because they tend to be disappointing; so Antoine seems like a good fit for the final meal of this leg of this trip.

I was a few minutes early but unlike the previous two nights, they more than happily seated me and was ready. With an apertif in hand, I looked at the menu and decided to go with the tasting option once again. I asked for a wine pairing and they said they don’t really do one, but will sort something out for me. I’m already relaxing far more than the last two evenings…

Then quickly the amuse bouche train arrived, the first was quite cute…

AB1b-lobster chip

Essentially the claw was a “lobster chip” — nice flavours. It really did not need the huge plate of dip (not pictured — it was such a turn-off…) next to it as it was good. I love how they had to explain for diners NOT to eat the decorative fish bones… 😀

AB2-prawn avocado

The second amuse was a prawn and avocado morsel. Not bad, again an interesting presentation. I think they are exploring more creating presentation here… The third one then followed and it was another of these…

AB3-mackerel sushi

If you can see it, there is a mackerel “sushi” in the middle of those rocks. The mackerel was very nice, but the rice was just absolutely awful. Yech…someone really, really messed up back there in the kitchen! Later in the meal I saw a diners gag on the rice… Not a good sign… But then the fourth and last amuse brought it back to the right track.

AB4-potato salad-herring

Under this foamy appearance was herring, and the foam was actually of a potato salad. So it worked out pretty well. Not too blown away by the amuse but it was on the right track (except for that rice…). The first wine made an appearance and the first dish followed soon.

01-black mullet

We had a tasting of black mullet. The first was the crudo, which was a little bland despite the nice use of bottarga, but was good. The picture of the second part didn’t come out, I apologise, as it was a slightly different way to have raw mullet. It was better, in a tartar format, with citrus. A good start.

So far not bad as we moved into the second wine and the second dish, the so-called crayfish dim-sum.

02-crayfish dimsum

This was delicious, though hard to eat. You have to basically consume the whole thing to not lose the juice, but it was extremely flavourful. Had a lot of wine left for that pairing when they poured the next wine, but left it all for me to enjoy at my own pace. Finally a sommelier who was working well, after two nights of hiccups. I can eat much more of this dish, excellent! Then the next dish…

03-squid

Wow — that was the first thing I said. Visually beautiful, this was actually squid, poached in bacon broth, with egg creme and truffle. Visually alluring, the aroma was also beautiful — bacon and truffle in beautiful harmony. Another excellent dish. I am actually happy dining in Paris, go figure. 🙂

I was relaxed and enjoying myself finally on this final night in Paris. More wine arrived before the next dish, one of my favourite things, John Dory.

04-dory

This blew the Dory from Hexagone away, totally. Preserved, it was a different prep than I am used to for Dory but it was excellent. Very flavourful fish. The roots were a bit sour but worked well with the fish. The fish was cooked perfectly. Really good stuff. Then we moved into the reds with the next dish, veal.

05a-veal

Not the most thrilling piece of veal, but cooked well — although the rub was on the sweet side. A bit lacking in imagination, but a solid dish overall. The healthy amount of mushrooms here made it for me. To be honest a little anti-climactic for this excellent tasting being the final savoury course but it was solid.

I relaxed a bit, happy with my dinner so far, before the wine and cheese dish was presented. I went with a diverse selection of cheeses to get the full effect…

06-cheese

There’s a hard cow cheese, a runny goat cheese, and some sliced sheep cheese. The bread was just normal bread, so it was a bit voluminous than having something thinner — not easy after a full meal. But it worked well especially wiht the runny goat cheese. Sorry I didn’t catch all the names, as I am very bad with cheese names. But a good selection (my choice out of a list).

Then we finished with a proper dessert…

07-puff-chocolate-mango

A nice puff pastry featuring chocolate and mango, alongside a dollop of mango sorbet. Worked nicely, so that was a good close. And I relaxed with a wonderful calvados that the sommelier recommended because I said I preferred this evening a harsher but richer calvados. He knows his game much better than his counterparts at Akrame and certainly at Hexagone (which was truly awful the selection).

I settled up afterwards and smiled, as I finally had a good dining experience in Paris. I should trust my instincts, as Antoine was the only place that was not recommended to me — one I found on my own. The cooking is excellent, the service better than the previous evenings, the wine superior to those 2 other places. At least this stay in Paris ended well, as the RER and CDG — and Praha — beckons in the morning…

Antoine*
10 Avenue de New York
Paris, France

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2 thoughts on “Review: Antoine

  1. Agree with you totally. am beginning to feel the same way about new books. Much raving by the author’s friends often doesn’t translate into a genuinely good reading experience.

    When are you coming back to Estonia?

    • I think we are just all mentally geared to like our own thing. The whole “people raving about it” has gotten worse with social media and it homogenises opinions. Food even worse, because unlike books, complacency could make a previously good “raved-about” place turn 180 degrees south…

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