Chef/Owner: Alain Passard
General manager: Frédéric Le Clair
Sommelier: Stephane Thivat
Arpege was having a 20th anniversary menu at the unheard of price of 130 euros. Their normal tasting menu is 320 euros. However, I did add on a lobster course so it wasn’t exactly “cheap” at 200 euros per person for food. At one, there were only 5 people in the restaurant. Eventually they ended up serving 16 people.
I loved the sculpture on our table:
Amuse – two tiny tarts. One with langoustine and apple that was excellent and one with vegetable mousse that was tasteless.
This is the famous Arpege egg. It is actually an egg yolk, simmered in the shell for 3 minutes or just until the yolk begins to set, It is then seasoned with salt and pepper, a sprinkling of chives, some lightly whipped cream with sherry vinegar and finally a drizzle of maple syrup. I noticed that this time, there was less of a sweet component and I am guessing that less maple syrup was utilized. The quality of the egg was outstanding and as I make this dish often, I couldn’t help thinking that I will never be able to replicate it as well with my market’s eggs.
The ravioli were filled with langoustine and the consommé was outstanding. There was a pronounced Indian-spice taste in this dish.
Sweet onion gratin with parmesan and lemon, mache lettuce on top. I just don’t get this dish. John’s comment was that this was an “el cheapo” nothing dish.
How can spinach and carrot mousse be exquisite? But it was. Of course “bottom-line John” wondered what the food cost was in this dish.
Monkfish with mustard sauce, flagelots and fingerling potatoes. The fish was spectacular – my notes say as good as it gets. The mustard sauce had a lard flavor to it – excellent.
Conclusion: If I ignore the entire question of value and just focus on the food, there is no doubt that Arpege is a unique experience. Some of his dishes are sublime, his vegetables are wondrous and the lobster dish absolutely wonderful. (By the way, we ordered the lobster as a one for two split.) I just don’t get the onion gratin dish and would never order it a la carte.