We had been to Clos des Sens when it was a no star. We were so impressed that I wrote to Michelin telling them how good it was. Lo and behold, the next year they got 1 star. A few years later they got the second star. We were really looking forward to the culinary experience and staying at their new small hotel.
I had written to Madame Petit, the chef’s wife and co owner. I corresponded with her about her son who had been at the Waldorf in New York as a pastry chef. He is now in London, married with one child.
Clos des Sens is somewhat difficult to find and the parking situation, especially in a steady down pour is lousy.
The room was not ready so we opted for lunch.
We ordered their dejeuner menu.
Amuse: Crispy vegetables – a beet chip, a potato chip.
First Course – A series of amuses bouche or what Madame described as a “picnic”
(1) On a rectangular wooden board, a cornet filled with Robluchon cheese and onion, a potato chip and on a cold stone marble square onion ice cream. Our favorite was the cornet.
 Beef consommé in a tall shot glass with some 1/8″ dice of carrots infused with a Chartreuse-like spirit. We were not getting much help with descriptions from our nice but not helpful server.
 Boudin noir soup with shellfish ice cream – mismatched flavors – we were both thinking about the gorgeous boudin noir sausage that we had at Auberge Iparla.
 Nage of snails with smoked milk and some sort of crispy tuile
 Duck foie gras topped with a bit of caramel with dried fruits to the side.
me–a bowl is presented with a lot of ¼” dice “somethings” Server explanations were “non-existent!” Then a thick creamy pheasant soup was poured on the top. I had hoped for a clear bouillon since I was recovering from some intestinal flu. The soup was very rich, heavy and creamy. To be fair to the restaurant, this was executed well, but it was not what I hoped for or expected.
John–Fera [fish] with quinoa, watercress coulis, spinach and hazelnuts–excellent! – not pictured
Dessert–“New” apple tart with apple ice cream, freeze-dried apple on some sort of pastry.
Dessert Discovery- chocolate nougat, pistachio something, a paper hand bag filled with a chocolate disc, a paper cone filled with sugar coated nuts and a square of apple gelee–like a gum drop. Ok but nothing wonderful.
We have very mixed emotions about this meal. Many service issues reduced the enjoyment of this meal. Some of the amuses bouche were delicious i.e. the foie and the cheese filled cornet. John did love his fish, but the boudin noir soup was a complete miss.
The room at Clos des Sens is very contemporary. I loved the pot-bellied fireplace in the middle of the room. With the cold, rainy weather it was a blessing.
We were expecting a very good, very special meal in light of the rapid Michelin promotion to 2 stars…
Amuse # 1:
The same cornet, the same ice-cream, the same chip. Bad start!
Amuse # 2:
The same beef consommé–remember Georges Blanc would not let us have the “same anything” and at L’Arnsbourg Chef Klein served 7 completely new amuses at dinner.
We were very surprised that no effort was made to serve something different and more interesting. We ordered the large menu called “Sens du Gout”.
A huge bowl of “salade de jeunes pousse de fleurs”…in our opinion “a bowl of weeds” There was no finesse, no creativity–just a bunch of baby shoots thrown in a glass bowl…dressing boring, over-all rating a 1/10.
Huitres Speciales, chou vert, caviar d’Aquitaine served with a wasabi Rouchefort sauce. Essentially this was a green cabbage, oyster, eggplant terrine encased in some sort of gelee. The dish was completely out of balance–the oysters got lost and all you tasted was cabbage – horrible.
Gratin d’ecrevisses recuisine or translated as a gratin of crayfish recooked. There was a crayfish mousse ball enclosing crayfish liquid with cooked crayfish, surrounding the ball. The ball sat on a square crayfish chip. The crayfish were overcooked and rubbery and the saucing way out of balance.
Foie gras poche snacke et fruit de passion…foie gras grilled and poached with a snack of passion fruit. This was the best dish so far [not saying much]. The passion fruit was actually caramelized on top of the foie. Unfortuantely, this was served within seconds of their taking the crayfish gratin away — pick it up put it down, rush rush service.
Poisson sauvage, 44 degre’s a Coeur “Aglandau” crogenisee…this course was served within 60 seconds of the foie. I am not kidding – one server took our gratin away and another standing beside her, put down the fish. We made them take it back.
We later learned that neither the chef nor Madame were there that night …
Maybe, this rush rush was sort of a “while the cat’s away approach to service…get ’em in, get ’em out…go play. There was not one experienced person on the floor, no supervision and no interest in doing it right. By the way, we are not talking about a packed restaurant – in fact there was a total of 10 people – 4 people having the large tasting menu (our menu) and 6 having the mini tasting menu.
Obviously, they were shocked when we made them take the fish back. Eventually after a decent interval the fish was served. We don’t know what type of wild fish it was (no help from our server). We think it was slowly cooked–maybe sous vide to an internal temperature of 44 degrees? It was served with an olive oil emulsion with frozen olive oil spooned on top. It made smoke like a volcano—in spite of everything it was excellent
Poitrine de Pigeon pochee, cuisse rotie, feuilles a feuilles truffes et cotes de blettes–the breast of pigeon had been poached with some sort of leaf surrounding it. On the crispy tart was ??? mystery stuff, who knows. This dish was mediocre at best – middle of the road, not exactly exciting or even delicious.
Lunch: 2006 Sancerre F. Cotat, over priced due to Euro, but nice.
2006 Saint Bris “Ste Claire”…very nice wine introduced to us by Mike Bonaccorsi when he was the sommelier at Spago.
2005 St. Joseph, “Ro-Ree” Cheze–excellent, full bodied..if the food had been better it would have been a great match.
We were supposed to have cheese and dessert as a part of the menu, but we couldn’t endure the lousy service and ended up taking the cheese to our room with the rest of our red wine. Bottom line: this is not a 2 star restaurant – the food was mediocre and the service was horrible. We won’t go back.