As I found out today, I kept my honesty and integrity for the bargain price of 32 euros. Let me backtrack a little for the complete story...
Today was my much-anticipated lunch at L'Arpege, chef Alain Passard's famed 3-Michelin-star restaurant. I unwisely packed my morning with a frantic schedule that included multiple stops in some of the busiest stores in Les Halles (E. Dehillerin, G. Detou) plus visit to the Christian Louboutin boutique nearby. Needless to say, by the time I figured out my metro route to Varenne, I had only seconds to spare before my arranged time for reservation at the restaurant.
Chef Passard is famous for his vegetable dishes and I was determined to find out for myself. Although the set menu looked rather interesting, there was a couple of dishes on the regular menu that really caught my attention. This is what I had:
- Homard « Arpège » au miel du jardin: one of chef's classic dish of lobster with honey. It was absolutely the best lobster preparation I've ever had. The sweetness of the lobster flesh was enhanced by the flavour of the honey. So refine in an understated way...I will never look at lobster the same way again.
- Arlequin potager à l’huile d’argan chou, carotte, navet, oignon, betterave, radis d’hiver, céleri-rave…: This was unlike any thing I've ever had before. The huge round plate was totally filled wtih an explosion of colour provided by all the different vegetables in this dish. Each piece of vegetable offered its own unique flavour profile. It was a reminder of all the wonderful gifts nature has given us. It sounds really cliché but this dish was a revelation to me.
- Grand cru de chocolat noir: a dark and delicious chocolate souffle that so satisfyingly proper. I needed it to erase my last chocolate souffle memory.
Of course, there were also an amuse of softly set egg in its shell flavoured with maple syrup and mignardise of pâtes de légume (just like pâtes de fruit except that they were made with vegetables) and puff pastry rounds glazed with whiskey.
Compare to my other dining experience at Pierre Gagnaire and Taillevent, I must say there's nothing much in common. I felt pampered in every way at Taillevent but the food was not particularly memorable. At Pierre Gagnaire, I was blown away by the innovation and showmanship of chef Gagnaire's cuisine. At L'Arpege, neither the service nor the creativity measure up to the previous two but there's a certain sincerity that really shone through.
Now that you're forced to read through my thoughts on the meal, I can finally tell you about the 32 euro story. When the bill arrived, I was surprised to find that the chocolate souffle was not included. I struggled long and hard, trying to decide if I should just take the advantage or remind them of the missing item. I decided to be honest.
I can only hope that I'm building good karma (and boy I know that this good karma has not come back to me yet...).