Sunday, 5 July 2009

My New Favorite Restaurant

A new one-star Parisian restaurant that is one to watch

I was so lucky to go to Arôme the other night. It is run by perfectionist Eric Martins who is a long-time friend and a most charming host. Arôme is his creation and he has hired a superb chef who earned the restaurant its first Michelin star. The champagnes that Eric chose for the apéritif are wonderful: Vranken Diamant Bleu 1999, and a Veuve Cliquot Rosé 2004. I tried each one and loved them both.

Before our appetizers, my friend, Noriko (who hails from NY and with whom I dine in great restaurants when she visits Paris) and I were served brochettes de gambas aux zestes de citron vert (jumbo shrimps tempura-style with lime zests) placed in a round glass half full of a mousseline aux fruits de mer (light seafood sauce). What a delicious way to start a meal and what a lovely idea for an amuse-bouche.

Noriko had an first course of fresh mackerel placed on a rectangle of grilled watermelon and garnished with cucumbers and a mild pepper sauce. It was a stunning combination. I had a rouleau de printemps (spring roll) stuffed with fresh crabmeat that had been lightened with verbena and served with a sauce ponzu à ma facon (the chef's way).

For our main courses, Noriko chose the beautiful belly of tuna just grilled, served with zucchini, sundried Pacchino tomatoes and cilantro flowers. I won't eat cilantro but for those who do, this is an excellent dish. I had lobster served with grilled spring and summer fruits and vegetables including yellow peaches, white asparagus and baby yellow squash. It was absolutely lovely.

The sommelier suggested glasses of Riesling Domaine Gapée 2006 Grand Cru that was very flavorful and married well with our dishes.

Our desserts were chocolate soufflés flavored with cinnamon and served with a wonderful salted caramel ice cream served separately in a dark chocolate sauce. The combination of the flavors and the hot and cold was excellent.

Arôme serves an 89 euro tasting menu without wine or that menu with wines for 129 euros. It is closed on the weekends and open for both lunch and dinner during the week. It is a lovely restaurant with a modern decor and is quite large. However, reservations are strongly recommended.