Au CrocodileMarch 23, 2007 at 1:17 pm | Posted in art, food | 10 Comments
What? You endured a four hour train ride, both ways, for lunch?
Oh, but what a lunch it was. This being the low-season for fine restaurants, the Etoiles d’Alsace is running their yearly Formules-Jeunes promotion, which means people under 35 can get a delectable two-star meal (and five courses worth of specially paired wines) for a mere 86 Euro.
Strangely enough, this exceptional opportunity was a bit of a hard sell to my companions — they were both ravenous by the time we stepped off the train, but our reservation was still an hour away. As we walked the streets of Strasbourg, enticing smells of choucroute and sausage threatened, siren-like, to sway them off our course. Sensing imminent disaster, I dragged them up to Strasbourg Cathedral as a distraction technique.
Nothing like a little Rayonnant Gothic architecture to stave off those hunger pangs! Well okay, maybe I’m the only person who finds old churches as engrossing as fabulous food, but my companions gamely played along.
Once inside, Jesus and a figure of Death helped us mark the minutes via an amazing astronomical clock:
The creepy little automatons were supposed to be preparing us for the final reckoning, I guess, but we were more interested in the lunch bell. Which brings us to…
Food! This velvety mushroom soup was one of a number of “amuse gueules” meant to get us in the mood for the real repast. Not strictly necessary, but definitely appreciated. After that, we moved onto a luscious slab of foie d’oie with mango chutney, a delicate yet firm carp with morels, and…
…a rich, delectable magret of duck served in blood sauce, for the gourmet vampire in everyone. Oh, and that little pastry? On the menu it was identified as a “Galette de Béatilles,” but we had no idea what béatilles were. Brumaire bravely asked the waiter, who responded by shrugging an pointing to his mid-section. Eventually we were able to determine that the pastry was stuffed with tiny morsels of duck’s heart and liver.
Whoops! My flash went off. Oh well, at least I got a nice photo of this red berry coulis topped with pistachio crumble. A lovely, palate cleansing combination of sweet, tart, and crunchy. And all that leads us to what was clearly the pièce de résistance:
Meringue glacée a l’Extrême. What was so extreme about it? Well for one thing, the meringue was dunked before our eyes into a silver bucket of “hautes liquides,” which Amanda translated as liquid nitrogen. Then a warm strawberry soup was ladled onto the flash frozen meringue, which caused the smoke you see in the photo. Better yet, Brumaire was quick to discover that if you exhaled with some of the dessert in your mouth, it made smoke come out your nose like a fire-breathing dragon. Talk about a showstopper! I think that poor little ball of litchi sorbet in the background was developing an inferiority complex.
After that came coffee and a few post-prandial snacks (which, sadly, I could not manage to force down my gullet).
All in all, a delightful meal, one that I would have no trouble rating among the top five of my life. But what really made it spectacular was something that can’t be captured on film or digital: the wine pairings. From the Moët et Chandon with the amuse gueules to the sweet yet complex Gewurztraminer accompanying the meringue, each course’s wine and food brought out the best characteristics of the other. The 1997 Domaine Saint Martin de la Garrigue with duck in blood sauce was particularly inspired.
If you’re interested, you can check out the full meal (with wine pairings) in my Strasbourg photo set.
*Never trust a restaurant’s own website. Despite the claim in the page title, Au Crocodile is a two-star restaurant. It hasn’t been a three-star since 2001.
Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.