Arpège, Paris 2

November 6, 2018

On October 1, 2018, Linda and I went to Arpège for dinner. We had not been there for a long time. Our first two meals there were before blogging. I had enjoyed a fabulous four-hour lunch there with another restaurant blogger in 2009. Arpège has had three Michelin stars for over twenty years and is always rated near the top in any restaurant list so we were looking forward to a great meal.

We were seated by the entry with a view of half of the crowded dining room, including the Lalique panels.

We had already enjoyed champagne at an event so we skipped an apéritif. A plate of hors d’œuvres was put on the table.

Chef Alain Passard is very proud of his vegetables, grown on his biodynamic gardens outside Paris. He offers an all vegetable menu, but also offers seafood and poultry in his Terre & Mer menu, our choice. We ordered a bottle of 2008 Morey-Blanc “Clos du Chapitre” 1er Cru Aloxe-Corton red Burgundy.

We were given two slices of bread; it was good bread, but surprisingly ordinary.


The first course was
Chaud-froid d’œuf au sirop d’erable.

This is a classic Alain Passard starter. The egg whites have been removed, the yolk cooked slowly in the shell and the whites replaced by maple syrup-flavored whipped cream.

Fines ravioles potagères multicolores
consommé éphémère 

Three raviolis with different vegetable fillings are in a clear vegetable broth.

Celerisotto Monarch aux éclats de noisette de Pouques-les-Eaux
Parmigiano Reggiano

This “risotto” was made of finely diced celery mixed with crushed hazelnuts and parmesan. Thin slices of porcini topped it. Like the raviolis, this was okay, but lacked the interest one expects in three-star cuisine.

Velouté autumnal au speck de la ferme de Grundbach
crème soufflée 

A thick cream soup was made with carrots, chestnuts and verbena. It was topped with a scoop of bacon-flavored whipped cream. This was a nice seasonal creation.

We were shown a grilled turbot, which would be the source of our next course.

Pêche côtière du Golfe du Morbihon au Côtes du Jura
pommes de terre Belle de Fontenay

A slice of the grilled turbot rested on a generous serving of sauce of vin jaune, a nutty, sherry-like wine made in the Jura region in eastern France. Various vegetables completed the garnish. This was an excellent dish.

Minestrone “belle saison” aux palourdes du Croisic
boucles d’encornet grillées

A light seafood broth contained clams and grilled squid.

Tartare vegetal au couteau à l’estragon
betterave de plein terre

Finely chopped cooked beets were mixed with onion, capers, tarragon, pickles and mustard. The mound was topped with flavored whipped cream and surrounded with various garnishes. The acidity in the tartar hid the flavor of the vegetables.

Oignon Red Baron farci à la bourguignonne
poivre rouge du Cambodge

The potential subtlety of the onion was submerged in a heavy red wine sauce.

Grande rotisserie d’heritage Louise Passard
éleveurs de nos regions

A spit roasted duck was presented to us. Then it was carved and served with cherry tomatoes and potatoes. The crisp skin and pink meat were delicious.

tuile, nougat chocolat, petits choux

What would have been end of meal mignardises elsewhere were served to us at the start of the desserts so that we could enjoy them at our pleasure; not a bad idea.

Ile flottante moka-citronelle du Gros Chesnay
caramel lacté

This was an updated version of traditional floating island with good mild flavors.


Millefeuille croustillant aux fruits de nos vergers

The fruit of the day for this beautifully executed pastry was figs. Excellent.

The chef, looking somewhat rumpled, but obviously enjoying himself, came around to each table for a chat. He enthusiastically greeted some of the diners. He spent a lot of time in the dining room.

We left feeling quite unsatisfied. We found the vegetable tartare and the onion to be unsatisfactory (and unfriendly to wine.) Only the turbot and the millefeuille were what we consider to be three-star cuisine. The other courses were merely good. We know that Passard’s talents and his vegetable quality and concepts can, or at least used to, do much better than this. Fortunately there are many other great places to try in Paris..


To see my last meal at Arpège, and the contrast with this one, click here.




One Response to “Arpège, Paris 2”

  1. Sam Spektor Says:

    Three dishes with whipped cream. Hard to understand what is going through Passard’s head.

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