PRICE PAID: $375 PP (LIST PRICE- PRE-CHALLENGE)
FINAL SCORE: 8.0/10
About two hundred yards to the West of the Petit Palais along the river Seine in Paris sits Yannick Alleno's gorgeous Pavilion Ledoyen.
Built as a garden mansion for Napoleon III more than 150 years ago, the pavillion was taken over in 2014 by the Alleno group and serves as a restaurant, event space, and bar. From the walking tour I took after the meal, it was clear that they were still growing into their space- much of it was built out and restored, but some parts were very much untouched since the Second Empire.
The gilded entrance, like most of the rest of the structure, is beautifully restored.
Let's kick things right off. To start, you're brought a small panorama of nature that happens to include small bites to eat.
The ravioli is creamy and cumin-y, with a tropical dairy texture. The hibiscus and sweet onion is crunchy and the flavors reminds me of Hawaii- coconut oil, pineapple, etc. There are some pretty amazing dim sum and soy flavors at work too- a strong start. 9/10. I also really like the spongy platform that the course is served upon.
A colorful offering of salted and unsalted butters, along with some pretty awesome breads.
Next up, Iberico ham with a rich sauce. The ham is well-salted, and the fermented gelee is a heavy idea so early on in this menu's story. 6/10. Good but mouth-burningly salty.
"Twice-marinated anchovy" - Wonderful, crunchy texture, but the fried components (that tasted a lot like fried onions) layered another portion of butter and fat on an already rich start. 7/10.
The pasta in this next dish is poured right on top of the remains of the previous- an interesting statement about refreshment and renewal. The sole has an almost sushi-fresh quality- cool and clean. 9/10.
The fifth course was a lovely dish of panko and sauce- we were encouraged to dip the bread in the sauce for the maximum experience. 9/10.
The lettuce serves as a gentle "border" and the sauce delivery is beautiful to watch. Check it out:
Next up: caviar with delicious, tiny, crunchy squares. As good as caviar gets. 10/10.
Next up was sole with green tomato sauce. The sole pairs with green peas fantastically well. Chanterelle mushrooms make this guy sing. 10/10.
Peas, mint, and langoustine next. An absurdly colorful dish with tons of flavor. 9/10.
I'm not sure if this is the official title, but the server described this as "lobster and cabbage bones." A beautiful design that looks like sculpture, bright and spongy lobster pairs well with crispy, crunchy cabbage. 8/10.
During the course of this project, I've experienced a relatively wide array of Wagyu beef on a few continents. This was, hands-down, the absolute best. I want you to imagine beef the consistency of actual butter, but with pure grassfed flavors that give it an otherwordly aura. You can taste hay, the farm, fresh oats... It was quasi-religious. 10/10.
These dessert bites were served "on the beach," a nice, if confusing, statement in the narrative of the meal. He's wishing us a good vacation? We need a beach trip after all the food? Not quite sure what he's after here, but still delicious and gorgeous to look at, 9/10.
This was pitched as Calvados apple pie without the pie, which I'll admit I sort of understood. It was just simply-presented, awesome pie as far as I was concerned. You can see someone took the time to gently cut small lines into the surface before laying down some vanilla ice cream. 9/10.
Going tropical again, this time with a coconut and white biscuit dessert. Really strong coconut flavors speak nicely to some of the earlier courses. 9/10.
I was offensively stuffed at this point, but they managed to get me involved in this final round- beer pie and truffles, a classic and spectacular ending. Loved every part of it. Man was this thing a marathon. 10/10.
And, a final goodnight to this beautiful structure. Amazing meal, amazing service, truly worth the journey.