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Image 1: Perhaps surprisingly, Anne-Sophie Pic is the only female chef boasting 3 stars in Michelin France today! I guess it’s this uniqueness that gives her the self-confidence to feature such a big portrait. We passed her cooking school just 200m from the restaurant.
Image 2: Interesting façade – couldn’t help thinking of a Tom & Jerry mouse hole.
Image 3: Go through this arch entrance and you come to the restaurant. As well as a bistro serving more casual food, it has guest rooms, too. The nightly prices range from €300 a room to €600 a suite. Maybe I’ll pass!
Image 4: On the wall of the restaurant entrance is proof of their prestigious status! Michelin 3-star!
Image 5: Grand Chef Relais Gourmand.
Image 6: Traditions & Qualité.
Image 7: Amazing! The reception area has a full collection of Michelin guides dating back to 1900, overseen by portraits of Anne-Sophie's father and grandfather.
Image 8: We were excited to be here as France has had no other female French 3-star chef in more than half a century! There’s got to be something special about her, about her restaurant, and most importantly, about the food. We ordered the Generation menu consisted of a series of dishes selected from three generations of the Pic family.
Image 9: So - let the meal begin! This Anne-Sophie PIC amuse bouche holder had four delicate-looking treats - we were advised to start from the left. So we did – and our first bite was an airy macaron with a tangy-sweet creamy beetroot filling. Then, on to the hemisphere sitting on the flat spoon - wow! It exploded in the mouth, flooding the taste buds with the flavour of pumpkin and citrus!
Image 10: Next, a cute "eater-friendly" cube of chestnut and peanut custard. And, last but not least, an intense and velvet foie gras mousse with honey-glazed pistachio on top. Together, these little gems made a complex and stimulating start to our meal – the perfect way to stimulate the eyes and arouse our palate!
Image 11: Just as we were discussing how the foie gras had such great depth of taste, they served another amuse bouche – this time a foie gras crème brulée. The contrast of fragile caramel with the sweet, foamy apple mousse topped with popcorn was simply unbelievable! A wonderful course!
Image 12: A vividly coloured stack of vegetables, consisting of black truffle, onion, leek, asparagus, bamboo shot and carrot, all on a crust base. Closer examination of the crust revealed bits of truffle!
Image 13: We didn’t see it at first, but inside was a pocket of almond cream (SEE VIDEO HERE) which gave a warm and mild nutty touch to this fresh and colourful salad – but it didn’t take anything away from the other flavours of the dish. It definitely reminded us of Bras's gargouillou. A sophisticated salad, for sure!
Image 14: This dish was perfected by Anne-Sophie's grandfather in 1929, who based it on an original recipe of her great-grandmother’s.
Image 15: Under this top-browned skin was a thick creamy soup...
Image 16: ... with crayfish and black truffle. It was a powerful-tasting soup, that’s for sure - strong and heavy on the palate. Perhaps a bit too salty, though.
Image 17: According to the manager, many diners come just for this course. It’s a recipe of Anne-Sophie’s father’s from 1971: line-caught bass covered with Aquitaine caviar, in a foamy champagne sauce.
Image 18: Definitely a wonderful course, with remarkably flaky and firm flesh, complemented by a great marriage between the buttery champagne sauce and the sea saltiness from the caviar. Anne-Sophie explained to us that the fish was cooked in vapour for just three minutes, so that it would keep its flavour and texture. Unlike many celebrity chefs, she was working hard in the kitchen - even during the lunch service!
Image 19: We took a short break in the courtyard before the main course since we were starting to feel full.
Image 20: Now, a quick palate cleanser before the meat – a glass of coffee ice, filled with lemoncello foam. Coffee and lemoncello - very bitter, but also very refreshing!
Image 21: Three generous portions of beautifully pan-roasted Bresse chicken, stuffed and crowned with black truffle, resting on parallel asparagus stalks bathed in lemon and truffle jus. Bresse is pretty famous gastronomic circles for its chicken, and no wonder – the moist meat itself was brilliant: a fine texture with a slightly gamey taste. The fruity lemon sauce was a little odd, but it gave a nice lift to the dish.
A large selection of cheeses before the desserts.
Image 23: Here’s a distinctive pre-dessert - underneath a citrus mousse lies a white tea and white chocolate sorbet. White tea is a specialty of Fujian, with minimal oxidation of the leaves. We were surprised – in fact, astounded - that the flavours of the white tea and white chocolate blended so well together. An awesomely innovative combination!
Image 24: A soufflé demonstration. SEE VIDEO HERE! The menu offered a choice of hot or cold soufflé. Both were made using the same ingredients.
It's a classic soufflé - Timeless hot soufflé with Grand Marnier
This Iced soufflé with Grand Marnier of my father was unique, like ice cream but less dense. Both had a strong dose of Grand Marnier!
Image 27: Accompanying the soufflé were a few more mini-treats before the final dessert. The peanut meringue on the left was a bit too sweet, and a toffee praline. Lastly, and nearest to the camera, a sensational glossy and wobbly ganache (CLICK HERE) with a runny chocolate centre. This was sensational: an explosion of melting chocolate that completely coated the tongue, followed by the crunchiness of the crispy wafer underneath. It produced a simply incredible and heavenly mouthfeel!
Image 28: You could be forgiven for thinking that the previous chocolate experience would overshadow any further dessert. But it didn’t. Because the next desert was this amazing artwork. It was our final dessert - rings of chocolate crisp enclosing a crunchy Taïnori chocolate finger, and all balanced on a sponge cake between ‘rails’ of violet chocolate.
Image 29: This smooth, seductive-looking cake consisted of milk and violet chocolate mousse, layered on a dark chocolate sponge. As you might expect, they use top-quality chocolate here. This, in fact, was made with Dominican Republic cocoa, and it had a nice bitter-but-fruity taste. A magnificent finish to our meal!
Image 30: Coconut and dark chocolate petits-fours drew a conclusion to our unforgettable visit to this historical and landmark restaurant.
Image 31: From Anne-Sophie’s large portrait outside the restaurant to the dining room walls and the utensils with the Pic signature, this place carries a strongly personal touch. The food was great, too. Every dish was outstanding, hardly a flaw worth mentioning, and one or two were verging on the magical. Together with the excellent service, I think it’s safe to say that this restaurant thoroughly deserves its Michelin 3-star rating.