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Restaurant Jérôme Blanchet, in Hotel Crillon Le Brave
May 5, 2015
Named after its talented young chef, Restaurant Jérôme Blanchet, in Hotel Crillon Le Brave is quite simply a spectacle of Provençal cuisine at its best. When you walk down the steps from the calmly modern Le Grange and into the dusky splendour of Jérôme Blanchet it is hard to understand how to so starkly different venues can reside within metres of each other.
The atmosphere here is deeply intimate, romantic yet relaxed. The dim lighting and candles dance on the rough limestone brick interior. The stone coloured tablecloths reflect the surrounding with only the simple red fabric chairs providing an accent of colour. A mezzanine private dining area sits above the main room, partially obscured by stone bollards, and it is here that we are lucky enough to dine.
The menu is classic and reliable with a subtle balance of southern flavours paired with painstakingly sourced ingredients from trusted vendors. We are the first to sample to new Spring Menu and our waiters can only shrug when we ask them what they like best on the menu.
We opt for the Sea Bass Carpaccio marinated with Espelette Pepper, served with Crisp Provencal Small Snails and French Caviar. The sea bass comes presented in a long rectangle, topped with breaded balls of snails and garnished with herbs and caviar. The Carpaccio is light and fresh, if a bit chewy. The seasoning is light, allowing the aromatic nature of the fish to play through. The snails in contrast are rich and deep in flavour but not so much to overpower the fish.
For our main course, we opt for Young Pigeon cooked in two ways, Stuffed Leg, Swiss Chard and balls with Foie Gras. The meat is beautifully succulent and fantastically sauced. The Foie Gras lies like slices of creamy cheese on top of balls of questionable but tasty origin, melting in the mouth with the heat. It pairs wonderfully with the Grenache (Château Les Eydins, Cotes du Luberon, Cuvée des Consuls, 2009) we are recommended – a dark peppery wine with jammy red fruits, creamy character and an easy drinking volume.
We are then presented with an exhaustive array of cheese which makes us simultaneously drool at the mouth and clutch our happy swollen bellies. There is a large number of goats cheeses and a wonderful stilton all by Claudine Vigier, the wonderful woman who gave us a cheese tasting earlier in the day. We are unable to turn the cheese course down and power on through a cross section of the board.
Once this has been vanquished we unbuckle our belts and lie back in our supportive seats. However, this is not the end. The menu comes back out and we are cajoled into sampling dessert. The Guanaja Chocolate Soufflé with Tarragon Sorbet proves too tempting a proposition to turn down and we order that with a sweet red Muscat (Muscat De Beaumes De Venise, Domaine De La Pigeade, 2013). The soufflé is everything you want in a soufflé but the tarragon sorbet proved overly strong and did not pair well with the Muscat.
Despite this, we ended the meal on a blissful note and we tumbled out of the restaurant. The produce was undoubtedly excellent and whilst Blanchet’s classic recipes with interesting twists were not always perfect, they captivated our interest and made us want to come back in two weeks to see how he had altered his dishes after this initial trial.
Vicky Ilankovan – Lifestyle Editor