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Guy Savoy in Paris - 3 Michelin stars

Rating: 99.
Rating index:
Extraordinary (96-100)
Outstanding (93-95)
Very good to Excellent (89-92)
Above average to Good (86-88)
Below Average to Average (80-85)
Avoid (below 80)
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Guy Savoy (1953) is not a child prodigy. His rise to culinary fame has been gradual and he was almost fifty years old when Michelin bestowed on him the honour of a third star. After training at Le Lion d'Or in Genève, Troisgros in Roanne, Lasserre in Paris and L'Oasis in La Napoule, he opened his eponymous restaurant in the Rue Duret in Paris in 1980. Here, he received his first star in 1981 and a second one followed in 1985. In 1987 the restaurant relocated to the current premises at 18, Rue Troyon (17th arrondissement) and fifteen years later the third star arrived. The kitchens of Guy Savoy have also proved a fertile training ground for younger chefs; Thomas Keller, Gordon Ramsay and Marcus Wareing (to name but a few) have all worked here. Guy Savoy has since proceded to build a modest, if global, gastronomic empire. Other Guy Savoy restaurants in Paris are Le Chiberta (1 Michelin star), Les Bouquinistes and l'Atelier Maître Albert and there are also Guy Savoy restaurants in Las Vegas (at the Caesar's Palace Hotel) and in Singapore (at the Marina Bay Sands Hotel, with its famous infinity pool on the 57th floor).

Guy Savoy Paris is open for lunch and dinner Tuesday till Saturday (no lunch on Saturday) and the restaurant offers an a la carte menu and several multi-course tasting menus such as Menu Prestige (8 courses, €330), Menu 'Colours, Textures and Savours' (11 courses, €360) and Menu 'Innovations, Inspirations' (18 courses, €490). I had dinner at Guy Savoy with my husband on Saturday 27 April 2013 and we both had the Menu Prestige. The lighting in the restaurant wasn't particularly conducive to photography, so unfortunately I have not been able to capture all the dishes served that night on film.

To start there was a 'club sandwich' of foie gras and crunchy toast. This was followed by a silky turnip and celeriac soup with brunoise of carrot and apple, served with some lemon salt. Lovely light sweetness from the apple and the soup had a wonderful creamy finish. When we had finished the soup, the top part of the dish was removed to reveal a crispy filo pastry cup with a turnip and mushroom filling.

Next was Cauliflower parfait with some Baerii caviar underneath, accompanied by pieces of firm egg yolk, covered with milk skin, served with crispy croutons and a quenelle of Oscietra caviar. Wonderful melt-in-the-mouth cauliflower parfait and the egg yolk-milk skin combination was lovely. The elegant touch of saltiness from both caviars beautifully enhanced all the other flavours.

First course of the Menu Prestige was 'Myriad' of young peas. A jelly of fresh, young peas, drizzled with watercress and chive oil and topped with a light and creamy pea puree on which a perfectly poached egg was placed. Around the egg were halved, fresh and crunchy peas. Some toast with a drizzle of watercress and chive oil was served on the side. The pea jelly was lovely and pure and the cream in the puree really intensified the natural sweetness of the peas. An excellent dish with flawless seasoning.

Red mullet 'rôti-farci' (stuffed and oven-roasted) was next. Tender mullet with a delicious spinach and button mushroom filling. Loved the natural creaminess of the mushrooms. The mullet was served 'au gratin' which give it a wonderful, luxurious touch. With the red mullet came a delicious creamy sauce made with the mullet's liver and a few drops of lime, the latter giving the sauce a lovely fresh finish. An absolutely marvellous dish with perfectly balanced flavours.

Third course was Lobster, palm heart, avocado, celery. Poached and subsequently grilled, tender lobster served with an avocado puree, sharpened with a hint of lemon, and a superb Bordelaise sauce. The Bordelaise sauce was thickened and lightly flavoured with lobster roe and had an incredible depth of flavour without being too concentrated. Also on the plate was a celery sponge cake (placed in the lobster shell) and fantastic braised palm heart and shallot tart, both delivering a wonderful touch of sweetness. An exciting lobster dish with wonderful, precise, rich and sweet flavours that were balanced beautifully by the light bitters and sharpness of the avocado puree. The claw meat of the lobster was served separately with a julienne palm heart salad and a fantastic foamy 'chocolate-spice' sauce that had a wonderful touch of spiciness and spectacular length. Two truly inspired and outstanding dishes, executed with great finesse; the brilliant sauces were of the highest order.

Next was Guy Savoy's iconic Artichoke and black truffle soup served with mushroom and truffle brioche covered with truffle butter. An absolutely sensational creamy earthy-sweet artichoke soup served with truffle and Parmesan shavings. Nothing more, nothing less. Elegant but powerful at the same time. The creaminess of the soup was extraordinary and was mainly provided by the natural creaminess of the top-quality artichokes. Lovely warmth and depth of flavour from the Parmesan which provided a wonderful 'meaty' finish. Needless to say the brioche was great too. This mother of all soups should be on Unesco's World Heritage List. Words of mine can do no justice to it.

(photo: courtesy of Caesar's Palace Hotel, Las Vegas)

On to the fifth course: Veal, radishes and new potatoes. Beautifully cooked tender loin of veal, veal sweetbreads and veal's head served with a wonderfully intense and dark veal jus and a fantastic rich and foamy sabayon, that had a lovely sweet and floral finish and a perfect hint of acidity. The veal jus had lovely caramelised flavours. Also on the plate were new potatoes, fried in butter with sakura (cherry blossom), some lovely steamed radishes (sliced and whole) and deep-fried radish greens. The radishes perfectly counterbalanced the rich flavours in this brilliantly executed dish that is a great gastronomic take on the pork-radish combination. Lovely variety of textures too.

Before dessert there was cheese and as tradition in French three-star restaurants will have it, there was a terrific selection of well-matured, soft and hard cheeses on offer.

Seventh course was '2013 strawberry cake', but first we were served a vanilla marshmallow, a mango meringue and two iced lollipops, strawberry-citrus and macadamia-chocolate.
The strawberry dessert was a wonderful feast of different strawberry flavours/intensities and textures. There was a lovely fresh and intense strawberry sorbet, a light granita, thin slices of dried strawberry and pieces of sponge cake that had a hint of almond. Best of all were two delicious fresh strawberries filled with a vanilla creme, topped with perfectly made strawberry meringues.

Eighth course was a dessert called 'All-Black'. A marzipan biscuit base (marinated in lime juice) topped with a layer of rich chocolate ganache flavoured with cardamom and black pepper, served with a gorgeous dark chocolate sorbet. A decadent chocolate dessert with brilliant, complex, chocolate flavours and well-judged use of spices.
A refreshing Earl Grey ice cream with a light custard sauce was served next. Beautifully made ice cream that had a sensational purity to it.

The grand finale of this evening was a dessert trolley that contained an amazing selection of desserts and sweets, such as ice creams, sorbets, rice pudding, cheesecake and clafoutis. Obviously I was already stuffed at this point but I did manage to find some room for some delicious caramel ice cream and a small piece of cheesecake.

It is not easy to define the cuisine at Guy Savoy. It almost seems easier to elaborate on what it is not. It is certainly not modernistic but it is not old-fashioned either. It is firmly rooted in French culinary traditions but I would not call it classical. It is not extremely complex but does not aim to be minimalistic. It impresses without aiming to dazzle. It is perfect without being perfectionistic. It is extremely attractive but not flirtatious, creative but not fanciful, luxurious but not decadent. It is relaxed but does not lack tension. It does not come cheap - you might even say it is expensive. The food at Guy Savoy is about poise, balance, elegance, style and focus. It is perfectly at one with itself. If this food was wine, it would be a great Burgundy or Bordeaux. The top-quality ingredients are the fruit of the terroir and the chef is the cellarmaster who does exactly as much or as little as is required to coax the greatest beauty from the produce of the soil and the sea. How do you describe the beauty of Château Latour or of Le Chambertin? You can't. Not really. You just sense and you know and the memory remains long after the price has been forgotten.

Posted 09-06-2013


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