Sunday, March 27, 2005

Birthday Celebration Round 2: French

So did you think that after my seam-bursting dinner at Luxor on my birthday I’d take a break from heavy eating? Oh no, we got right on it the very next day at Sens & Saveur , the super chic French restaurant that opened a couple of years ago on the 35th floor of the new Marunouchi building. S&S is the brainchild of the Purcel brothers (one word of advice: instead of your own pictures, please put shots of your food on your PR material, they are much more attractive) and the Hiramatsu group. Jason has been there twice already for dinner and liked the food and the ambience, so I thought it’d be the perfect venue for a day-after-Bday lunch. Another ulterior motive for going at lunch-time is so that I can take pictures. (Jason had agreed to break the no-pictures in restaurants rule reluctantly for just this once, as long as I snap my pictures at lightening speed. Deal!)

Despite the dark wood and blood red entrance, the main dining area is light and airy, with floor to ceiling windows overlooking the Imperial palace and the tops of some ugly buildings in the surrounding area. Jason comments on how differently it looks during the day.

We start off with a glass of champagne from the Île Saint-Louis, the group’s main restaurant in Paris, for Jason and a glass of ginger ale for me. There are three lunch courses, ranging from one with a simple entrée, main, and dessert to a five-course affair. I was having an internal discussion with my sensible self on whether to go light, taking into account of our heavy dinner last night, or to pig out again, when Jason said, “Do you want to go with the 8000yen course?” Which one is the 8000yen course? Wait, there’s no price in this menu. How does he know how much? We then discovered that our menus differ in that everything is the same, except there is no price in mine. I don’t know whether a woman with more feministic views would be offended, but I found this immensely amusing. In the end we decided to go with the in-between course and I refrained from saying to the waiter, “I’ll take the 8000yen course.” They were only trying to be thoughtful.

We started with a creamy cold soup with a dollop of tomato mouse and dribbles of pesto sauce. Very refreshing. Next came a skewer of Dublin bay prawn and new potatoes sitting atop a ratatouille of southern French vegetables and basil vinaigrette sauce. The prawn was meaty and tasted like lobster, and the thin cheese cracker on top was so fragrant and warm like it just came out of the oven.

The fish dish is sea bream grilled until the skin has achieved the perfect crunchiness, served with green pea puree and balsalmic sauce. The thin slice of grilled pancetta on the side was the best I’d ever had. Wait, isn’t pancetta Italian? We then had guinea fowl stuffed with foie gras in a lovely green bullion sauce (looks like green cappuccino). The baby carrots on top are a variety from Kyoto called Princess carrots. How dainty!

After the creamy green sauce, I felt like something spicy to end the dinner, so we ordered a mimolette cheese plate. It was scooped out of a wheel the size of a kabocha and had the color of golden apricot. I finish mine and also had some of Jason’s =o)

Up until this point, everything was perfect: each course was brought out in a slow but nicely timed pace; the service was tentative but not obstrusive; the staff very politely tried to explain things to Jason in English whenver they could; and the Christofle flatware was a nice touch. Sure, the sommelier could use some deodorant, but since I wasn’t drinking, it wasn’t a big deal, and the place was kind of warm after all, with all that glass.

Then we waited for our dessert and waited, and waited. I was about to say something, but remembered the last time I did so, at L’Atelier De Joel Robuchon, our dessert turned out to be chocolate fondant. Since I don’t remember what the dessert is this time, and whether they are cooking it the oven at that very moment, I decide to wait. What’s my hurry anyway? It’s only been two hours since we started eating! So fifteen minutes later, a plate of chocolate macaroon sandwiched with mascarpone mousse and some sort of ice-cream finally came out. This took almost thirty minutes to assemble? Were they whipping the egg whites and baking the macaroons one by one?

I don’t know about you, but a three-hour lunch sure seems long to me. At this point we just wanted to end this saga and get home so I can walk Libby while the sun is still out. So we hurriedly gulped down the cappuccino and the three kinds of little sweets: mini madeleine, lemony marshmallow, and teeny meringue drops, and grabbed the check. This could have been a perfect lunch, had it not been for the eternal wait for the dessert.


Jessica said...

Happy birthday!

Lynn said...

Thanks Jessica!

Karen said...

Ah, sybaritic meals are very Iberian, or perhaps Latin. Come to the Philippines, you'll know what I mean.

And I forgot to greet you happy birthday earlier! And happy easter too!

Lynn said...

Thanks, Karen!

A relaxed and drawn out meal every once in a while is ok, but I'd simply go nuts if every meal is a 3-hr affair. When do you have time to do other stuff?

keiko said...

Hi Lynn - belated happy birthday! You're a lucky girl to have had such nice celebrations! Look at the guinea fowl! I'm jealous! Although I lived in Tokyo for a long time I left there a while ago and I haven't been to Japan in almost 3 years, so I don't really know what's going on there... (it's sad, I know) You must show me around next time I go back, you know so many nice places.

And don't worry about getting old - I turned 40 last year!

Lynn said...

Thanks, Keiko!

Wow, I am so flattered to have a Japanese person ask me to show her around Tokyo! I will gladly do that.