Since becoming a Chef, one of the things I immediately put on my bucket list was to dine at a Michelin starred restaurant. Now I’ve always been a foodie, and of course heard and seen pictures and read reviews of the food served in these fine establishments, so I’ve always known about them. But I also knew we didn’t have any in Canada so just put it out of my mind. I don’t know why we don’t have any Michelin starred restaurants in Canada. We certainly have world class Chef’s here – Lynn Crawford, Chuck Hughes and Mark McEwen to name a few (we have too many in my opinion to mention all). I’ve eaten at their restaurants so I had something to compare to.

While in Paris we dined at Cobea. A delightful place that combines classical French techniques with molecular gastronomy to provide a wonderful meal. We spent a couple of weeks in school making various molecular dishes so I was familiar with the foams and such, but clearly the Chef here spent more than a few weeks making foams to go with the dishes. Subtle but recognizable tastes. Together with the wine pairing, the knowledge and friendliness of the staff and the ambiance of the restaurant, it made for a fantastic dining experience. So I’ll try to do justice by telling you what we had and how it was presented. Unfortunately, the pictures are cell phone quality which look great on the phone but don’t translate very well onto a blog. But at the risk of looking like a typical “tourist”, I thought it best to leave the big camera (yes that’s what I call it) at the hotel.

Couple of advantages to early dining. When you arrive, you almost have the restaurant to yourself. Our reservation was at 7:15 and of course they open the doors at 7:15 so we had our pick of tables and chose this wonderful location in a quiet corner. While it wasn’t 50 shades of grey, the colors and décor were classic, simple and like the food, tasteful.  As we sat down to enjoy our 6 course meal (really seven with the amuse bouche), the waiter brought over wooden tray with a small tumbler with a little warm water in it and what looked like a large oversized aspirin. The waiter was quick to point out it wasn’t edible. The idea was to put the pill into the warm water, and as it absorbed the water it expanded into a warm towel. He told us a story of how someone tried to eat it before he had a chance to explain what it was. No, it wasn’t me, but really, I could see how it could happen in a restaurant serving haute cuisine. I know if left unattended I would have thought it was edible. From the amuse bouche to dessert, the wines and the service, an awesome meal.

Our meal began with an amuse bouche of Iberico Ham, cut thinly and draped over two shrimp spring rolls along with carefully placed and piped shrimp mousse. The spring roll was crispy, the shrimp inside nicely done, meaty not chewy. The ham thinly sliced into curls. Quite delicious!

The first course was White Asparagus with a shaving of Green Asparagus. Some lemon foam was on top of a comte cheese mousse, light and airy. Again, a few dabs of avocado mousse and some chopped nuts, and the plate was ready for consumption.

The second course sea bass, barely cooked, was presented with a lemon foam and a more powerful lemon confiture to compliment the sea bass.

Following this, another fish dish – cod, cooked perfectly – moist inside, served with potato and almond foam more flavorful spots on the plate. As I wanted to know more about the spots on my plate (just what was I eating) they  – yes we had two waiters serving us every course, are at the mercy of the Chef who gets inspired daily by what is around him.

The main course was farmed pigeon breast with peas – pureed, fried and steamed. Along with this, was a small ball of what tasted like a salted cod meatball (only it would never be called a meatball in France). Again, the pigeon breast as you can see, cooked perfectly. Everything was garnished with micro-greens for an elegant presentation.

Oh there was more. Our next course was a gorgonzola cream with pecan dust. Beautifully presented and ready for tasting. A lemon sorbet served as a palette cleanser. Tarty and most refreshing.

Finally dessert – wow! We were presented with 3 different items. Meringue, shaped like an egg-half, was topped with strawberry sorbet – tucked between the hollowed meringue and the sorbet was a macerated strawberry. On the next plate, chocolate millefeuille – wafer thin cookies sandwiched separating dark chocolate and the third platter (okay platter is a bit of a stretch – this is fine dining, perhaps (very) small pedestal stand) containing a lemon cookie and a chocolate cookie. Each topped with lemon mousse and caramel mousse respectively.  Passion fruit, tart and yet sweet at the same time. 

All in all a very civilized dinner. Definitely didn’t leave feeling like I needed to loosen my belt, but just enough to feel good about the meal.  Would I do this again? Most definitely worth the experience as a foodie.

The wines were from local wineries – small but sensational. The first white, I didn’t get the name of but it was a wonderful Sauvignon Blanc – fresh herbs and grapefruit came to mind. The second wine was a chardonnay – Jeff Carrel Morillon Blanc. Although oaked, it was actually very good. I’m not a big fan of oaked chardonnay’s, but this one paired nicely with the cod. It wasn’t aged very long in oak so not a lot of the oakiness that can be overwhelming at times. The red, Villa Baulieu cuvee Berengere, a blend of Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon – harvested manually and only after the grape has the right taste – a remarkable wine.

There was one other delightful feature of this restaurant. Just before entering the washroom, you had to walk past a clear tiled floor, under which the wine cellar was housed. Very nice!

Iberico Ham and Shrimp Roll

Iberico Ham and Shrimp Roll

Asparagus

White Asparagus and Comte Mousse

 

Sea Bass, Lime Mouse, Avocado Mousse, Fish Roe

Sea Bass, Lime Mousse, Avocado Mousse, Fish Roe

Cod with Potato and Almond Foam and Lemon Confiture

Cod with Potato and Almond Foam and Lemon Confiture

Farmed Pigeon Breast with Peas 3 ways, boiled, fried and pureed

Farmed Pigeon Breast with Peas 3 ways, boiled, fried and pureed

Lime Sorbet

Lime Sorbet

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Gorgonzola Cream with Pecan Dust

 

dessert2

Strawberry Sorbet in a Meringue cup, mille feuille, passion fruit, Lemon Cookie with Lemon Mousse, Chocolate Cookie with Caramel Mousse

Towel

Towel tablet and a little warm water to set the tone for what was to come.

Restaurant Setting

Restaurant Setting