Akrame, Paris 2
June 21, 2016
When we dined at Akrame four years ago, a year after its opening, I wrote: “Akrame is understaffed for its ambitions and potential. The chef obviously has great talent; we hope he can find a way to make his restaurant grow so he can realize it.” Since then Benalil Akrame has succeeded in adding staff, gaining a second Michelin star two years ago and opening new restaurants. Now he is renovating his original flagship restaurant. During its closure he has opened a “pop-up” just north of the Place de la Madeleine. Joëlle joined Linda and me there for dinner on May 12, 2016.
From the rue Tronchet we went through a red door marked only by its street number, and entered an elegant interior courtyard with large sculptures and lush plantings. Akrame‘s door was off to the right.
We were warmly greeted by the staff, which seemed to be plentiful and full of enthusiasm and good humor. The pop-up is plainly furnished, but the tables are well spaced and comfortable enough. We ordered glasses of the house Champagne, which was served from the ice bucket you can see in the photo next to the window onto the courtyard: Champagne de Venoge “Princes” Brut Blanc de Blancs. Very good.
We were given a choice of two undisclosed menus: four-course or six-course. We chose the latter, which turned out to be ten courses plus extras. At the end of the dinner we were given a list of what we had eaten, which I have used below as titles. We ordered a bottle of 2013 “Le Trezin” Domaine Marc Colin Puligny Montrachet. Excellent. Two pots of butter were presented and we were each served a scoop of each one.
The green one is flavoured with tarragon and lime; the other with fleur de sel and tonka bean ashes. (I think that is what they said.)
Bread was served.
Steamed brioches were presented, which were quartered for serving. We were asked to eat them warm.
Nice; almost like a steamed Chinese bun.
The amuse-gueule were
“Comme un “oreo” parmesan/Sardine”
“Papier végétal/Encre de seiche/Anguille”
The “oreos” had a dominant parmesan flavor with a sardine touch from the cracker parts. The “bonbon” tasted of its squid ink and the piece of eel on top.
1. Sable / Asperges/Pistaches
One asparagus spear had been grilled. The other was sliced into thin ribbons which were wrapped around a spinach and pistachio filling. Underneath was a pistachio sabayon and a dab of spinach purée. This dish was excellent.
Couteaux/Cœur de palmier
Shreds of razor clam with shreds of heart of palm were on top of a parsley purée. Light and nice.
Puffed and smoked rice was presented in a cover dish on top and then poured onto the pasta “risotto” with oysters. The smoke and crunch of the rice was an excellent enhancement to the oyster flavour and texture. Successful invention.
Jars were presented filled with lobster tail pièces on top of a clump of herbs, dill etc. A hot broth was poured onto them and the jars sealed.
Plates with various sauces and aromatics were put in front of us.
With some difficulty, the lobster was extracted from the jars and placed on the plates. The soggy herb clump came out of the bottom of the jar and was put on top of the lobster chunk.
Very good and we enjoyed the show.
The chef stopped by to say hello and mug for a photo with Linda.
5. Le Marin/
St Pierre/Petits pois/Fruit de la passion
A marinated, herbed and steamed filet of St Pierre was served on a bed of passion fruit cream. Alongside were peas in a bowl with garnishes I do not remember. This dish was okay, but perhaps the least interesting of the evening.
As we had finished our white wine, glasses of red wine were brought.
Ris de veau/navet
Our sweetbreads were roasted on top of a bed of green (at the start) coffee beans. They picked up a rich, dark coffee-flavored crust on their bottom. They were served on veal glaze with a turnip wafer. This was probably the best sweetbread I have ever eaten.
Ice Aperol Spritz
The trou normand in the hollow of the ice cube resembled a very cold Campari and soda.
Abbaye de Cîteaux/Poire/Cumin
A wedge of cheese from an abbey in Burgundy had been blasted is if it were crème brûlée. It was served with a pear cumin purée and two other dabs. We were served pieces of a frozen passion fruit dish directly into our mouths. Well, this was good and a lot more fun than your grandmother’s cheese tray.
Pomme en croute d’argile
“Hypnose” vanilla fumée/Framboise
An apple had been slow baked overnight in clay. A wedge of it was served on sorrel purée with pistachio ice cream. Alongside was a raspberry and smoked vanilla dessert. Really good.
10. Tenter de rendre L’éphémère, inoubliable…”
The mignardises were little square chocolate cookies and a thin, hot slice of tarte tatin. A fine ending.
We had a very good time and enjoyed some excellent cuisine. The young staff seemed also to be having a good time serving us, which created a fine ambiance. The pace was good and the noise level okay. I am certainly glad that the announcement of the pop-up motivated me to try Akrame again. We will be back at the main restaurant after it reopens.
To see our meal at Akrame four years before click here.