Alexandre, Nîmes 2

January 29, 2019

Linda and I returned to Alexandre on December 28, 2018. We had been there over eleven years before for lunch with Terry and Helga, who used to live nearby. Alexandre is south of Nîmes, near its airport. It had two Michelin stars then and still has them, both under chef Michel Kayser, who took it over thirty-five years ago from a chef named Alexandre. 

The holiday decorations created a festive mood.

Fortunately that did not involve noise; Alexandre is one of the blissfully quietest restaurants I know. We started with glasses of Champagne. A toasted tomato brioche bread
was served.

With it three little bottles of olive oil were put on the table for pouring or dipping. They stayed on the table through the savory courses.

The Quintessence de Saison menu can be ordered with eleven or, our choice, eight courses.

 

We ordered a bottle of
2013 Ballot-Millau Santenots Volnay.

Excellent. 

The first menu course was
Interprétation de la brandade.

This traditional emulsion of salt cod and olive oil was smoother than what I am used to, but it had the same brandade flavor, enhanced by the little curl of cod on top. The toasted rectangle added needed crunch.
.

Aparté de cuisine de l’Homo habilis en Camargue
(-2,4 à -1,6 millions d’années)
Tartare de taureau de Camargue relevé de Tuber Melanosporum.

The nearby swampy Camargue is famous for its flamingos, white horses and bulls being raised for the bullfight arenas in Arles and Nîmes. Underneath the white gel is a mound of beef tartare from these bulls. The preface to the title presumably implies that primitive man here would have this in his diet. It was topped with winter truffles shaved over it at the table. The sorbet was of spirulina algae, often used as a healthfood supplement. Well, with all the tricks this also tasted very good.  

The bread basket was passed.

.

Noix de Saint Jacques saisies à l’huile d’olive
Fondant de salsifis à l’ail noir
Miroir de Châteauneuf du Pape corsé de langues d’oursins


Two good, large scallops had been seared in olive oil. They were presented on a  sauce of reduced Châteauneuf-du-Pape red wine enriched with sea urchin. There was also a little pitcher of the sauce for those who wanted more. We were warned not to pour the sauce directly on the scallops as it was unusually rich for them, which was true, but it went surprisingly well and I used a bit more. Alongside was a cylinder of shredded celery root and a cube of salsify purée coated in black garlic. They enhanced the richness of the dish.
.

Confit d’oignons doux des Cévennes glacé
Trompettes de la mort marinées

Tuile de riz de Camargue

A sort of sweet onion ice cream was on top of marinated black trumpet mushrooms. On top was a crisp of rice grown in the nearby Camargue. Successfully inventive.
.

Ile flottante aux truffes de Provence
Sur un velouté de cèpes des Cévennes
(Création Michel Kayser)

This is a signature dish of Michel Kayser emulating the very traditional French dessert, floating island. A light, truffled egg white dumpling sat on a cream of cèpes (porcini) from the nearby Cévennes mountains. It  was topped with a crisp truffled wafer, adding crunch. The seasonal woodsy flavors and aromas of the truffles and mushrooms really showed through in this preparation.

Râble de lièvre rôti
Croustillant des cuisses cuites en civet
adouci à la Reinette du Vigan
pressée de coings de Costières parfumés de fève de Tonka

A thick slice of the back of a roasted hare was topped with a slice of lardo di colonnata, or cured Tuscan fatback, which offset its dryness. Underneath was a rich red wine sauce as in Lièvre à la Royale.  Alongside was a crisp mound of its stewed thigh meat. There was also apple from the Cévennes and quince gel with tonka beans. This dish was to be enjoyed slowly.
.

The pre-dessert was
Sabayon froid de mascarpone à la truffe d’Alba
Biscuit « cuiller » caramélisés, Mousseux à l’orgeat

A cream cheese custard was topped with shaved white truffle and surrounded with an almond flavored foam. Elegant flavors. 

L’écrin de gourmandises « Kayser »

A large lattice-work contraption was wheeled over to our table and unfolded. It contained many desserts for us to select. It reminded me of the “grand chariot des desserts” which used to end big French meals.
The first photo below was Linda’s selection, pears and vanilla ice cream. The next two were mine: a baba au rhum with chantilly au Grand Marnier in a chocolate ball on top and a scoop of banana/passion fruit sorbet.



Mignardises

We really enjoyed our meal. There was successful inventiveness with references to tradition. Top quality local and seasonal ingredients were used a lot. The service, pace and ambiance were all good. We should come more often; as Michelin says, it is worth the detour. 

Alexandre ‘s website:
http://www.michelkayser.com/?lang=en 

To see our meal at Alexandre in 2007 click here. 

 

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