The Ledoyen is one of the oldest restaurants in Paris. Alléno at Pavillon Ledoyen, in addition to being a 3 Michelin star restaurant, is also ranked #31 in the world this year on the Pellegrino top 50 restaurants in the world list. Apparently, Degas was a regular here, and supposedly Napoleon met Josephine here. Since 2014 Yannick Alléno has been at the helm. We did not even think we were going to get a table here as it was impossibly booked after news of it’s ranking on the Pellegrino list came out, but a spot for lunch miraculously opened up the day before.
The ambiance was by far the fanciest so far of all the places we went on this trip.
There was a giant tornado of glued chopsticks that looked as though they were swarming into the restaurant.
I loved the greenish hue that pervaded this place. Very elegant patina’ed look everywhere.
Every detail reminded you that this was 3-stars all the way.
The linen tablecloth, the Venetian plaster’ed look of the panels, the color palette they chose, the antique brass lighting. Exquisite!
I was a very happy man.
I don’t even like carpet that much, but if you are going to do carpet, might as well make it look like cashmere or velour.
As we were sitting around, admiring the furniture, we hear a familiar booming baritone voice from behind us. Erika was the first to notice and tells me, “turn around, look who it is…”
Not only did we have the good fortune to get a table here, but probably the biggest name in wine and food in LA that we know, Dan Pirrelli of the Wine Hotel and our friend Dave who we met at a Waddell and Reed function. Dan is a wine God with encyclopedic knowledge. Dave is a baller who has an epic wine collection and has been basically everywhere in the world. When I first got into high-end wine dinners in LA, these were the people I looked up to. It was crazy that we haven’t seen each other for months in LA, yet we randomly run into each other in Paris.
I’m going to shamelessly plug him and his shop in LA.
What a fucking way to start the day, with a $1000.00 Euro bottle of the year 2000 vintage of Dom P2. Perfect aperitif for this collection of amuses bouche.
The red thing you see was actually a cured watermelon ceviche served on a bran crisp with cream. In the first bowl was the fried artichoke hearts. It was presented nicely on a bed of dehydrated artichoke skins. In the back you see the dough they bring to the table to watch it rise before they cook it for you to make the brioche at the end of the lunch. The other dish is a fennel caper pastry.
Here he is slicing and dicing it up. I think Erika just wanted an excuse to take a picture of the waiter.
A good-looking man using tweezers to serve his meat. As far as myself, I need a wheel barrel, not tweezers, if you know what I mean.
What looks like raw bluefin tuna is actually cured watermelon, as mentioned above. I never knew you could cure watermelon as I thought it was 90% water. When I asked them how they did this, they said: “very carefully”. Here is the video explaining the technique.
Here is Chef Yannick himself. He used to be at Le Meurice before coming here to start his own empire.
First wine pairing was a Corsican white, which was quite nice. Never had a Corsican wine before.
I did not take notes of the flavors, etc, but I must have liked it if I took a picture for future reference.
I have no idea what this was, we did not take a menu home with us since we were going to walk around town that afternoon, and we were really sloppy with taking notes this day.
If I had to guess I would say it was a caramelized leek on top of a leek foam. It could just as easily have been a seaweed salad.
Then the langoustine under rice leaf, strawberry juice, and parsley oil.
This was quite a spectacular dish. As if your food was wearing lingerie. I guess its sexier when you leave something to the imagination,
It reminded me of the dish I was wowed by at La Madia in Sicily with the same concept but with prawns and octopus instead. See photo of this dish below.
The next dish was a violin zucchini salad, and it was great with the aged balsamic they had.
They also served this ‘almond blancmange’ in the champagne glass seen above. This is like an almond milk pannacotta basically.
I’m clueless about the cold-pressed juice. Not sure if it was parsley, or something else.
The white wine pairings were expertly skilled here. Obscure regions such as Jura that I love. In Jura, which borders Switzerland, they have these wines that ferment under a thick slimy layer of yeast, and it gives it such a nice funky, oxidized and nutty flavor. Of course, I am referring to the vin jaune (or yellow wine) from Arbois seen below. They actually used a yellow wine, like the one seen below, to cook the mushrooms with, in the next few pictures below.
Jura also has some pretty mainstream white varietals, which we had at this restaurant, made from Chardonnay, but the famous grape of this region is the Savagnin.
Went perfectly with the chanterelle mushroom consomme. Drinking the butter/yellow wine/shroom sauce with the Jura white wine was out of this world. Talk about forest floor to the max. Probably the most crave-worthy dish we had here.
It was ridiculous.
Here is a fadeaway shot.
This came right in time before the mushroom jus was finished. This white from Bordeaux was so unbelievably good. I fell in love with this rare subtype of Bordeaux, their white wines 6 years ago on my first France trip. For example, the Blanc de Lynch Bage completely knocked me off my socks the first time I had this in Bordeaux back in 2012. It’s made from the Sauv Blanc grape, so just imagine an NZ Sauv Blanc, but much more complex.
This was a lightly steamed Turbot with a consomme of peas and lentils. Major faux pax to have them serve it like that spilling over the lip of the plate. I mean if you want to get 3-star critical that is.
The white Hermitage killed it with the Turbot. I was in white wine heaven. France is one of the few countries where you can have 80% white wine with all the meals and you don’t feel like you are being cheated or need to find a red, etc. The amount of variety they have is so extensive, champagne varieties up the yin-yang, white Hermitage, white Bordeaux, white Burgundy, Jura, Condrieu, Alsace, I could go on and on.
Curdled fresh milk with barley and bacon. Wickedly good. I love anything fermented or rotten, so this was right down my alley.
So damn good. Heavy, but super savory and mouth coating, especially with the bacon bits.
Pre-cheese cart cheese. This was like a sandwich of Tome cheese w/ milk mousse & seaweed jam.
Y voila…cheese cart
We hit this cart hard.
Here is the waiter with the cheese roll-call. Apparently, Napoleon called Saint Nectaire the “caviar of cheese”.
This was my favorite cheese of the trip here. It was the smooth straw colored one that looks like a flint. It is called Saint Nectaire. If I had to pick one cheese that is my favorite in France, this would be it.
Saint Nectaire Fermier +/-200g
Some Mimolette, and Bleu de Termignon, like we had at Flocons de Sel, and other fine specimens I cannot recall at this time. All unpasteurized. The way nature intended.
This was something I have never experienced at any Michelin restaurant. A specific pairing of wine for each piece of cheese. I was so surprised and caught off guard I forgot to ask which was what and just went with the flow. But let me tell you, this one-on-one wine/cheese pairing totally changes everything you have ever know about a cheese tasting.
Of course, I have had a single wine pairing recommended for an entire cheese course before, but never a 1-1 pairing for each piece of cheese. This is some next level shit. Given that this would not make sense in the US with how many bottles they would have to open for every piece of cheese served, in France, it probably goes without saying that everyone just does the cheese cart, so it is easier to pull such a pairing off given the volume of wine paired this way.
Time for dessert, which was also endless in scope. Let’s start with something to cleanse the cheese off the palate. This was strawberry and flowers. That ball was like a gelatin gummy filled with strawberry essence.
This was an interesting arrangement as if there was the main dessert plate with an accompanying sidekick in the bowl above that I forgot to ask what it was, with a brioche on the side.
Here is the mysterious accompanying cup of what looks like yogurt to be eaten with the strawberry flower dish.
Almost looks like a custard or yogurt parfait with honey and granola. Makes sense to pair with the strawberry and flower consomme.
Now it was time for the bread that was rising on our table to be cooked in front of our eyes and served with strawberry ice cream.
Who knew? Kalamata and apricot brioche. What a pairing that made, the sweet reduced apricot flavor with the salty and oily meat of the kalamata, a perfectly sweet and salty contrast.
Oh, by the way, we’re barely halfway through dessert…
Rhubarb cooking under crusted sugar.
What a serving tray btw.
Wow, so pretty.
Rhubarb powder on top of ice cream sitting on a sugar crust cooked rhubarb stalk. They cooked this rhubarb under a mountain of sugar the way they cook our Santa Barbara spot prawns under a bed of sea salt at Providence in LA. As if it was the dessert version of this cooking technique.
How about a rhubarb crepe to go with that…have mercy!
Money shot of some dessert porn, rhubarb creampie scene.
What better way to end an amazing meal such as this, where only the privileged few can eat, with an equally rare cognac. Hennessy Paradis Imperial, only 10 out of 10,000 blends are chosen at their peak maturity to make this. Runs about $3000.00/bottle.
The cognac went perfectly with the chocolate bonanza at the end.
The fact that this looks like tree bark is no coincidence. This was actually an extraction of fir in frozen coffee jelly. This is the first time I have seen a boba ingredient in a Michelin restaurant. They served it with what they called shards of crystalline, which was like a smokey, coffee-infused caramel crisp.
Chocolate cream decadence.
Talk about a masterful pairing. Wow, to eat these candied orange slices dipped in chocolate that was crusted with gold with my last mouthful of cognac. Kill me now, I am at the apex.
Look at those cute meringue mushrooms.
What a lunch! It’s really hard to say that this was ‘the best’. For instance, there was more joy in our lunch at Le Truffiere, but as far as having the most classic and elegant 3-star experience, this took the cake on the entire trip. Wines here were out of control, but the prices were unapproachable if you wanted to buy bottles. Dessert was mind-boggling, kept going and going.
What a kick-ass last lunch in Paris! Tomorrow night Guy Savoy for dinner and we are headed home. The fun doesn’t end here. Off to see if Mexico can pull off a miracle and beat Brasil in the World Cup quarterfinals.
Luckily, we were a quick walk around the corner from a street-side cafe where the game was playing with other Team Mexico fans who happened to also be on vacation.
Dos Coronas, por favor!
Too bad Brasil put an end to that dream. I thought Mexico was going far after beating Germany in the first round in this World Cup, but France won it all in the end.
This was one of the best summers we have had in a while. I can’t say this enough, but what a way to celebrate my 40th birthday. Pre-celebrations began in the UK with Scotland whisky shit show and England Michelin tour in May, followed by a sojourn through France starting in the French Alps, and ending in Paris in June. All the while our favorite teams playing well in the World Cup, with France taking it home.
Before stopping at our hotel we came to this place for a souvenir. So several years ago, people where I work started asking me if I was related to this perfumier Francis Kurkdjian. My name is kind of rare, but to make it even more of a coincidence that we are probably related, I dropped the “d” from Kurkdjian when I became a naturalized US citizen to make it easier to pronounce my name.
This guy is a French-Armenian that worked for all the big perfume houses before venturing out and making his own brand. He even makes a bespoke cologne or perfume for an individual after an extensive interview and lab analysis of their skin oils, scent preference, etc. Too bad it costs $20,000.00 for this service. I know that my wife calls me a ‘principe’, but I am not a Saudi prince afterall, unfortunately. Why pay $20,000? My name is already on the bottle.