L’Ambroisie

| September 19, 2005 | 15 Comments
  • 15 Comments

This is the best meal I have ever had. In my whole life. Ever. Period.

Three friends were in town and treated me to a late birthday celebration at L’Ambroisie, a 3-Michelin star restaurant in the heart of the Marais. We were also celebrating their victory in a landmark case against the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, INTERVENOR (as the Court’s Order read) so adrenaline was pumping, hands were high five-ing, and champagne was popping.

The unrivaled Chef Bernard Pacaud opened L’Ambroisie in 1981 and a year later received his first Michelin star. His second star arrived the following year and his third star in 1986. He has not wavered since. Here are a few snippets about his 17th century treasure in Place des Vosges, the oldest square in Paris.

…if ever there was a master craftsman in the old-time sense of the word, he is it: tradition at its glorious and soaring heights, tradition which follows the “rules” that gave French cuisine its name. Each dish is flawlessly finished… Noblesse oblige!

One of Paris’s most talented chefs, Bernard Pacaud draws attention with his vivid flavors and culinary skill. Expect culinary perfection… Pacaud’s tables are nearly always filled with diners who come back again and again to see where his imagination will take him next.

This is where his imagination took him recently…

Les entrées (appetizers)

Soupe crémeuse d’écrivesses au céleri, chutney de poivron et ananas ~ Creamy crayfish soup with braised celery and pepper pineapple chutney

Corolle de noix de Saint-Jacques à la truffle blanche, mousseline de brocolis ~ Scallops with white truffles and a broccoli mousseline
* I thought of the poor intern toiling in the kitchen whose entire job was to find the perfect broccoli florets to slice into uniform sizes. that and scrub the ovens.

Oeufs de poule mollets à la Florentine, râpé de truffe blanche d’Alba ~ Soft boiled eggs with spinach puree and shaved white truffles from Alba
* This is the only dish I will write about or we’ll be here for days. It is the best dish I have ever had. In my whole life. Ever. Period. The bowl was the size of my two hands cupped together. Two of the most perfectly soft boiled eggs perched gingerly atop a bed of finely pureed spinach. A feathery sabayon crested over topped with a mound of shaved white truffles. When I broke my spoon through the egg, the warm yellow combined with the emerald green puree and the sweet sabayon, igniting the intoxicating white truffles. Holy guacamole! The fat lady sang, New Years, 4th of July and Bastille Day, fireworks and all rolled into one! I could have bathed in it! We all took a moment of silence as I held up the dish in homage to these precious “oeufs” and the brilliant chef that created them. Absolutely the most spectacular things we have ever eaten and a dish that will not be forgotten. Price: 110 euros. Experience: priceless.

Les Plats (main course)

Escalopine des bar à l’émincé d’artichaut, beurre léger au caviar ~ Sea Bass on sliced artichoke hearts in a light caviar butter sauce

Gigotin d’agneau de lait braisé à la moelle, ragoût de cocos à la sauge ~ Milk-braised leg of lamb with bone marrow and a ragout of tiny potatoes and onion in a sage sauce

from the oven

to tableside service

to our plate!

Etuvée de homard en petite nage, mousseline de fenouil à la vanille ~ Steamed lobster in a light fennel-vanilla sauce

Assiette des Fromages (cheese course)

Les desserts

Tarte fine sablée au chocolat, glace à la vanille ~ Chocolate tart with vanilla ice cream

Velouté de fruits exotiques, babas bouchon au rhum ~ Exotic fruit soup and a baba rum cake (bouchon is the plug in a wine barrel)

Sablé aux noix, crème glacée moka, poëlée de coings ~ Sautéed quince with mocha ice cream topped with a nut tuile

Arlette caramélisée au fromage blanc, coulis de citron ~ Caramelised with fromage blanc in a lemon coulis (fromage blanc is similar to plain yogurt)

Mignardises ~ Little bite-sized desserts

Formidable!

___________________

L’Ambroisie
Chef Bernard Pacaud
9, place des Vosges
75004 Paris, France
+33 (0)1 42 78 51 45

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Category: Bay Area Bites Food + Drink

About the Author ()

After a decade in Silicon Valley, Laura traded her keyboard for a cutting board and moved to New York City to immerse herself in food and wine studies and restaurant operations. She graduated from the French Culinary Institute where she studied under Master Chefs Jacques Pépin, André Soltner, Alain Sailhac, and Master Sommelier Andrea Immer. While in New York, Laura cooked with some of the world's most highly acclaimed chefs including Mario Lohninger (Danube), Morimoto, Mark Franz & Emily Luchetti (Farallon), Michael Romano (Union Square Café), Mario Batali, Marcella Hazan, Jonathan Cartwright (White Barn Inn), Martin Heierling (Bellagio), Dave Pasternack (Esca), Richard Reddington (Redd, Auberge du Soleil), and the legendary Alice Waters (Chez Panisse). After working as the Back Kitchen Chef of Jacques Pépin's PBS cooking show, "Fast Food, My Way", Laura moved to France to cook her way around the country. She cooked at the Cannes Film Festival, then to the northwest corner of France, to Britanny, to cook on a lobster boat, then east to Paris to the world famous Pierre Hermé Patisserie where she made thousands of his macarons every day! Laura cooked for the fabulous Olivia de Havilland and interned at 3 Michelin Star Le Cinq under Chef Philippe Legendre and Pastry Chef Fabrice Lecleir. Laura was the executive chef and cooking instructor at the DaVinci Code chateau outside of Paris where she was on set during the filming of the movie. In Fall 2007, Laura worked on Jacques Pepin’s most recent PBS television series as prop and food stylist. "More Fast Food, My Way" should air in the Spring of 2008. “My Keyboard for a Cutting Board ~ Adventures in a French kitchen v1.0”, Laura’s first book highlights her first three months cooking in France, was published in Summer 2006. Convivialité is her second book and will hopefully be published in the fall. Laura now splits her time between Paris and the San Francisco Bay Area doing private chefing, teaching cooking classes and leading market tours when in Paris. Bon Appetit!
  • wendygee

    What a feast! I am booking my flight now! My mouth is watering and it is only 7:30 am here! I love the Marais district — we stayed there last time we were in Paris — the neighborhood is an interesting mixture of gay and orthodox Jewish communities. One of the best falafels I have eaten was at L’as du Fallafel pictured here.

  • cucina testa rossa

    thanks wendy, it was indeed a feast, a once-in-a-lifetime feast. You’re right on about the marais. it is one of the most vibrant, diverse, thriving sections of paris. i now know where i’m going for my next fallafel…thanks for the tip!

  • cedichou

    Hey, impressive. Question: 110 euro was the price of the whole meal, right? Not just the truffle dish? In one case, I’d go, in the other, I’d resign myself to poach eggs myself for the rest of my life.

  • cucina testa rossa

    looks like it’s poached eggs at home…..cuz the DISH was 110 euros! incroyable, non?

  • Anne

    I adore the Marais, and I’m thrilled to see that its wonderful restuarants are getting more press on this side of the pond.

    I wholeheartedly second Wendy’s falafel recommendation. There’s another place just down Rue des Rosiers, across from the bakery, that makes equally great falafel.

  • Casseroles2Nawal

    Amazing !!!
    Merci pour ce reportage plus qu’alléchant … Chanceuse va !

  • mercotte

    Absolument superbe ! mais Bernard Pacaud est vraiment un chef remarquable !
    Bravo pour ce reportage qui nous met l’eau à la bouche !!
    Ced, n’a pas la notion des prix des 3 étoiles en France !!! elle m’a bien fait rire ! ce serait trop beau si on pouvait avoir le repas pour ce prix !!

  • Brett

    Your meal sounds amazing. The internet is so fun. I love the fact that the comments are as much about the falafel in the neighborhood as they are about that amazing sounding 110€ egg dish.

  • MobyP

    Thanks for the pics, but you just have to write about more of the dishes! How was the lamb and marrow? And the white truffle scallops with broccoli?

  • Anonymous

    I was recently at L’Ambroisie and yes the food was excellent! The bill was $500 with tip and tax for 2 for lunch with a 1/2 bottle of wine and no dessert. They were a little traditional for my taste (not the food) as evidenced by the fact that prices were listed only on my husband’s copy of the menu. It was fun and interesting, but I probably won’t return. By contrast, for $250 my husband and I had an exquisite dinner with a bottle of wine and dessert at C Restaurant in Vancouver, BC. Cindy

  • Ulterior Epicure

    ohmygosh!! this will have to be an experience saved for when my best friends bust out the landmark judicial victory!!

    geez!! dare i ask the pricetag for the entire meal (for one)?

    u.e.

  • cucina testa rossa

    Hi Anne – Thanks for the recommendation. I popped by your falafel place on rue des rosiers last week. You’re right, it was awesome!

    Merci Nawal! Merci a vous! Et oui, je suis tres chanceuse! :-)

    Bonjour Mercotte – Merci beaucoup pour vos mots gentils. Le prix, alors…… je ne veux pas dire exactement mais c’est pres de la prix d’Anonymous en bas! Ooh la la!

    Hi Brett – Thanks, the meal was amazing. It is incredible how the internet has opened the world and made it borderless. Falafels in the Marais and those OEUFS are also amazing… though perhaps not in that order ;-)

    Hi Moby – Thank you. It would take a book to truly pay homage to that meal but at some point i will try to write up a description and I’ll let you know. Suffice to say the lamb was the best I’ve ever had. Perfectly cooked (pink) and juicy beyond belief. The scallops with truffles and broccoli were other-worldly. I was just amazed at how each piece of broccoli was perfect and god bless the poor intern that had to find and cut them!

    Hi U.E. – Exactly or “tout a fait” as they say here. Celebrating a tremendous accomplishment or a momentous occasion make the meal so much more delicious. The price was about in the range of what Anonymous’ bill came to, just multiply that by 2 and add some as there were 4 of us…………..

  • P Jonvik

    Magnificent!

    May I inquire what camera you used to capture these exquisite photos?

    Was it a camera phone? Did the restaurant have any objections to you photographing the dishes?

    Absolutely fab!

    Paula Jonvik
    Seattle

  • cucina testa rossa

    Hi Paula – Merci beaucoup! I use a canon sureshot elf 450. i bought because it is very thin and fits in my chef’s jacket pocket. The restaurant didn’t seem to mind – granted we tried to be discreet at first – but then the waiters got into it, wanting to see the pictures after we’d taken them.

    My friends, who whom I dined on this occassion, went back to l’Ambroisie last week and brought copies of the pictures to the staff and they were thrilled.

  • scott_p_solomon

    There now exists a group on facebook.com called Restaurant L’Ambroisie Bernard Pacaud Appreciation Society. If you have a facebook.com account and are a L’Ambroisie fan, please join.