A few weeks ago, I got invited to a Christmas dinner organized by Badoit at Jean Imbert’s Acajou restaurant (he won Top Chef – season 2).
We were a a couple of bloggers, and during the evening, there was an Instagram picture contest: the person who took the prettiest picture of our dinner would get to come back for dinner with a +1. Pretty motivating right?
The Christmas dinner was pretty neat, I enjoyed the Chef’s food a lot, but I’ll admit I was a bit disappointed compared to what my idea of what it would be like. Group dinners aren’t really the best way to determine someone’s true cooking abilities: there are timing constraints to be taken into account (having to serve 25 guests at the same time is never an easy task), you have to prepare bigger quantities etc. Hence my slight disappointment I guess.
But destiny works in mysterious but positive ways, for guess what? My Instagram picture was selected! My SO immediately appointed himself as my +1 (you can be sure he’ll be interested if there’s food involved). Which is how we found ourselves back at the Acajou a couple of days ago, giving the restaurant a try in its usual working conditions!
Dinner is a unique 70 euros menu: you can choose 3 dishes – the combinations are up to you: 2 starters and a main course, 3 starters (for those who are dieting) 3 main courses (for those who want to challenge the dieters) etc etc. This menu also includes cheese and 2 desserts! Wow, this is no joke!
Starters and main course
After choosing the menu, we sample the espelette pepper butter with some bread and oh my, the bread is perfect. I should have asked for the baker’s address. We’re also offered an amuse-bouche (cream of endive soup if I remember correctly).
Here comes my starter: leek with its orange mousse. A subtle mix of flavors and textures (the crunchiness of those little croutons!), perfect to make you hungry for more.
My SO tried the scallops tartare – I had a few bites (kind of like with the bread, I’m finding it hard to stop coming back for more): it’s really the kind of starter I like: fresh scallops paired with a sorrel-banana cream and crunchy radishes in thin slices: I love it.
Our second selection arrives: my yellow pollack on its coconut-curry mousse is superb, and perfectly seasoned.
My +1’s caviar and organic egg is divine, and once again the combination is to die for with the cream and little potatoes at the bottom of the plate.
For our third choice, we chose the casserole beef for two, with a black olive based sauce (if I remember correctly).The mashed potatoes were all but heavy. We ate it all.
Fromage and desserts
The Saint Nectaire cheese comes as a perfect excuse to have another piece of that delicious bread.
And then it’s time for the two surprise desserts.
Well not quite: I had already tasted the first one during the Christmas dinner and I had been disappointed, for it had been served in a quenelle shape in the middle of a plate. Not polished enough for a dessert I had thought.
But this time, it’s served in a bowl, and in bigger quantities: I thought it was perfect (the ogre is back!): a great association of grapefruit, pumpkin sorbet and white chocolate mousse.
I thought it had lacked a crunchy element during my Christmas dinner (when that element disappears, it can bring the whole dish to ruin!). This time, I don’t know why, I find it perfect just the way it is. After such a copious meal, I couldn’t imagine it paired with anything else.
I can however perfectly imagine it coming with another dessert; and this one tops it all: an apple toped with an airy brioche and covered with caramel sauce.
(So good!), served in plates that perfectly represent the idea of sharing. This dessert is a perfect ending to this perfect meal.
So in short, never stay on a first impression (especially if it’s a group dinner): you might tell me I might be biaised for I was invited that evening, but honestly, this whole evening, this dinner, my +1, the quality, quantity and service … everything was absolutely perfect…maybe just the bread crumbs on the table, but that would be my inner Bree Van de Kamp talking. ( English translation by Bleu Marine)
35 bis Rue Jean de la Fontaine