- Rating: 20/20
- Address: 1 Avenue Dutuit, 75008 Paris, France
- Phone: +33 1 53 05 10 00
- Price per pax (after tax + tip, some champagne): €290 ($395 at 1 EUR = 1.36 USD)
- Course Progression: snacks – bread service – 1 amuse – 3 mains – 1 cheese – mignardises (1st round) – 3 desserts – mignardises (2nd round)
- Value: 5/5
- Dining Time: 160 minutes
- Chef: Christian Le Squer [wiki-biography]
- Style: Classical with Modernist Touches
- Michelin Stars: 3
[Edit (Jan ’15): we need not have feared, Chef Le Squer has moved to 2* Le Cinq and is producing all of his signature hits there].
Farewell, Christian Le Squer and your wonderful Ledoyen. We stepped into Ledoyen without knowing it would be our last meal at the place, in its current incarnation. The reason for that last meal, is that head chef Christian Le Squer is quitting Ledoyen, and his last service will be on June 30th. For 15 years he has headed Ledoyen, and for 12 of the 15 years of his tenure Ledoyen has been a 3-star restaurant. Only this year in 2014, has he been awarded 5 toques from Gault-Millau. But what a meal we had there: we encountered a restaurant performing at the top of its game.
[Le Squer will be replaced by Yannick Alleno (lately in charge of the 3* Le Meurice in Paris before quitting to start his own company, and having Le Meurice taken over by Alain Ducasse). Le Squer plans to cook in his 1* restaurant etc… in the 16th arrondisement until the end of 2014, until which he will try to crown another venture with 3 stars.]
One regret is that I’ll not get to taste the spaghetti dish at Ledoyen. Here’s a picture from Luxeat. That is one of the stunning dishes of world cuisine. It was out, because Le Squer doesn’t do them with non-aromatic mushrooms – only morels, or white truffles, or black truffles. (the black truffles are the one recommended by the maitre d’) I will have to find them at Le Squer’s next venture.
I found the blend of modernist and classical touches here delightful (though the modernist touches on the amuse were a bit weaker than the classical dishes). There is very little new I can say that a lot of other bloggers have said besides [e.g. Andy Hayler, Ulterior Epicure], the classics menu was perfect in execution, and perfect in conception. Ledoyen’s classics menu is perhaps one of the touchpoints for a gastronomic education. A second regret is that I won’t get to try Le Squer’s modernist menu.
Might I also repeat how much I enjoy haute-cuisine in Paris? It is not just the divine food, it is the history of the dining spaces I eat in – a couple of days ago, we sat in the room of the old L’Archestrate, and the previous day, we sat in the quarter-century-old setting of L’Ambroisie. Today, the two-century-old Ledoyen. One might succumb to Stendhal syndrome…
During the late 18th century, it was a haunt of Louis de Saint-Just and Maximilien Robespierre and they dined there on 26 July 1794, two days before their execution. Napoleon and Joséphine de Beauharnais reportedly met at the restaurant and the restaurant was also a favourite of artists and writers such as Danton, Marat, Degas, Monet, Zola, Flaubert and Guy de Maupassant. A mid-19th-century account states that the restaurant was also the breakfast place of duellists, who, after shooting at each other in the Bois de Boulogne, reconciled over breakfast at Ledoyen. – Wikipedia
“Yes, there had been early warning signs of turmoil in the haute cuisine. First came news that Mme. Ghislaine Arabian, the highest-ranking woman chef in France, had been forced to leave her ill-starred two-star kitchen at Ledoyen in the park of the Champs-Élysées after she angrily fired one of her young cooks on camera during the making of a television documentary.” – Jeffrey Steingarten, “Is Paris Learning?”, It Must’ve Been Something I Ate.
The Breton Christian Le Squer took over the kitchen right after Mme. Arabian in 1999, and Ledoyen held its two-star rating, and elevated to its third star in 2002.
- Spherified rosewater (3.5/5) – subtle, not sweet let alone cloyingly sweet which is a credit to the kitchen, good taste
- Spherified olives (4.25/5) – recalling el Bulli? Good olive flavor
- Poppy seeds and lettuce roll (3.25/5)
- Foie, cherry, crab mousse (?) (4.5/5)
Salty crackers. Squid crackers.
Olive; whole wheat; baguette; Bordier butter
- Amuse: Fresh melon, verbena, almond jelly, sprinkling of fresh almonds (3.5/5)
- A bit lacklustre. From what I remember, the sweet melon dominated.
- Grosses Langoustines Bretonnes, émulsion d’Agrumes (5/5)
- One in the shell, one within a breaded and fried dumpling. Acidulated olive oil + vinaigrette
- The langoustines were sweet and firm in both, the kitchen able to get the great texture in very different preparations. It paired brilliantly with the acidulated foam.
- Blanc de Turbot de Ligne juste Braisé, Pommes Rattes Truffées (5/5)
- A rectangle of turbot, with just-mashed potato, and a truffle-butter sauce.
- The mashed potato chunks, not really mashed potatoes in the puree sense we have come to know it, but chunks of potato that have been mashed, were swimming in a most decadent truffle butter sauce, beneath a foam. On top, a conceit of plating, stripes of black truffle bits. The turbot was two filets stacked on each other, though right at the start, so it wasn’t evident when I cut it.
- Since we weren’t in black truffle season, the truffles used were frozen. This decreased the truffle aroma, but increased the evident decadence of the butter sauce with turbot, which had its gelatinous texture well brought out. This was clearly a perfected dish.
- Truffles: Ledoyen under Christian Le Squer may have been a winter play
- A video of Le Squer making the dish: http://www.francechef.tv/recette-blanc_de_turbot_juste_braise_emulsion_de_pomme_ratte_truffee.html
- Ris de Veau en Brochette de Bois de Citronnelle Rissolée, Jus d’Herbes (5/5)
- A whole lobe of sweetbread, skewered by lemongrass, roasted, and sitting on a bed of beans. The sauce was made of 9 different herbs, very good
- The sweetbread had a soft creamy texture, the generous portions allowing me to savor each bite – the texture of this lobe was reminiscent of another roasted-but-soft-inside ingredient, foie. Their two soft textures explain why they are so prized. A sweet glaze outside, the inner lemongrass skewers giving the sweetbreads a vague Thai flavor. Fantastic
- Les Fromages (5/5)
- Eaten in order from clockwise from 12 o’clock:
- The maitre d’, going off my three choices of St Felicien, Mimolette and Beaufort, rounded it off with the Banon. Nothing to say, except that the cheese mini-tasting sequence was absolutely superb, each cheese playing off the other (5/5). The Banon in particular was a welcome palate-cleanser in between the sweet-potato-ish Mimolette and the salted-egg Beaufort. This may be the very greatest cheesecart I’ve ever tasted.
- Saint-Félicien (5/5) – seeking something close to my beloved Saint-Marcellin, I got a superb Saint-Félicien
- 46 month old Mimolette (5/5) – from North of France. A hard cheese, its sweetness resembling a sweet potato
- Banon goat cheese (4.5/5)
- 24 month old Beaufort (5/5) – sweet, salty, starchy, with the mouthfeel of salted egg, a truly marvelous cheese, which contrasts completely with the creamy textures of younger Beauforts. Unique.
- Mignardises 1:
- Spherified pineapple (4/5)
- Pistachio macaron (4.5/5)
- Raspberry stuffed in strawberry (4/5)
- Passionfruit pastry (4.5/5)
- Yeast ice cream / White caramel film / Meringue / Silver Leaf (5/5)
- “Chef wants you to have this, in order to ‘shock the palate’ “. The yeasty flavor (which yeast? what proportions, if a mixture?) was pronounced, capturing a hearty, bready flavor. For such a thin film, the caramel flavor came through strongly.
- Croquant de Pamplemousse cuit et cru (5/5)
- One of the best no chocolate/ no cream desserts I have tasted.
- From bottom up, 4 layers of grapefruit celebration, in increasing order of abstraction away from the fruit:
- First a sweet confit grapefruit skin to form a fruit leather base, to capture some of the bitter tastes of the fruit
- Second fresh grapefruit, to give the tastes of the original fruit
- Third sorbet, to refresh the palate, and give a cool temperature mouthfeel.
- Fourth a grapefruit sugar glass to give a crunchy texture.
- Chocolat / Framboise, Cacao légèrement Fumé (5/5)
- A perfect classic chocolate/ raspberry combination, a classical bookend to the meal as the amuses were modernist.
- Mignardises 2:
- Chocolates and Caramels (5/5)
- Kouign Amann (5/5)
- A very strong end to the meal.
- We had feared the kouign amann was soggy from the caramel, but it was perfectly crisp.
PHOTOS OF OTHER DISHES
Homard au Naturel en Gelée de Sucs de Carapace
Daurade Royale Snackée, Câpres et Tomates Acidulées
Grillade de Pigeon, Fleurs de Navets
Fouetté de Chocolat Blanc en Crumble Acidulé
Givré de Citron Vert, Fruits du Marché
OTHER NOTABLE LINKS:
- Ledoyen (December 2012): Gastromondiale:
- ON THE LANGOUSTINES: “This is a house classic. I have eaten this dish at least ten times and, if I could, I would eat it every day. The langoustine quality here is a close second to what I can find in the great seafood temples of Spain (Galician langoustines) or in La Taupiniere in Brittany (another victim of the Michelin guide’s palette challenged inspectors). Probably they are fresh frozen and sent to Paris immediately. But they are still succulent and sweet, although a bit less firm compared to langoustines that have not seen any ice. LeSquer prepares a brilliant mousse-like olive oil-agrumes infusion with the two large langoustines, one encased with kataifi and deep fried, and the other appropriately cooked a la plancha, as they do in Spain.”
- ON THE SWEETBREADS: “This is always a masterpiece, a 20/20 dish. It is light, creamy, and intense and excellent quality. The whole lobe of milk-fed veal sits on a lemongrass or citronelle stick. The lobe is glazed with jus, crispy dried sweetbread crumbs and lemon peel. Salfsify sticks are cut in a rectangular shape and braised with butter. The herbal sauce is rich, complex and refreshing (due to the agrumes jus and raspberry vinegar used in deglazing). The sweetbread is crisp outside, but very juicy inside. This is an exceptional, 20/20 dish.”