They say you can’t go back, that things are never the same, that you will be disappointed. So we were fearful to return for a dinner at Guy Savoy because we went seven years ago and it was so bloody good that we were sure we couldn’t repeat the experience. So we decided to take the plunge and we rebooked. And Wednesday night, all dressed up in the best gear we travel with, off we went.
We were about the second couple to arrive and were greeted by a host of people. Hubert, the Maitre d’ we recalled so fondly from the last trip, greeted us too, checking we were most comfortable speaking English and showing us to our table in one of the further rooms. The restaurant is divided into a number of smaller rooms. Ours had six tables, so you don’t feel overwhelmed by large numbers of people around you.
In rapid succession we were offered an aperitif from the gorgeous drinks trolley which sprouts large silver ice buckets of champagne and other delights; shown the different types of butter and offered bread from the bread trolley, probably about 10 different types, cut to order and offered repeatedly throughout the meal. We knew this from last time and were circumspect. Though very good indeed, there were better things to fill our tummies tonight.
Then the carte, offering several degustation menus and a la carte options and Hubert happy to discuss any likes or dislikes and explain possible choices. The waiter who would serve us for the night then took our order while happily dispensing the tiniest of foie gras toasts on little silver swords.
For me the signature artichoke soup with truffles, mushroom brioche and truffle butter; veal cooked several ways accompanied with asparagus and a dish of lemon sabayon sauce; dessert, well, if you can’t make up your mind, have half portions of two, that’s no trouble, so I had a salty meringue with raspberries followed by a cherry dish. cherries, some of which were whole but somehow stuffed with crispy meringue, sitting on cherry granita. As you will see they were actually a bit more elaborate than that. Nick opted for a dish called “myriad of young peas” followed by lamb cooked three ways and a dessert of strawberry textures.
That settled, the sommelier arrived with a huge book of wines and a stand on which to rest it. Some discussion followed and finally a Chablis Premier Cru was selected, a Montee de Tonnerre 2005. This was carefully tasted by the sommelier and then decanted. I noticed all wines were decanted.
There followed a small cup of asparagus soup with the tiniest of asparagus tarts with pastry so fine it shattered in your mouth, just to keep us amused as we finished our welcoming glass of champagne. Then the presentation really started.
Madame’s artichoke soup was presented and described. The brioche was ceremonially cut, showing layers of mushroom duxelles and spread with truffle butter. Meanwhile monsieur’s pea dish, consisting of a layer of jelly of peas, then creamed pea puree, topped by a salad of tiny half peas which I swear were all removed from their skin was also described and the poached egg on top ceremonially slit to release a drop of yolk. His toast soldiers were placed beside. Pure theatre!
Artichoke and black truffle soup with layered brioche and truffle butter. Ahh, the aroma.
Nick’s pea dish. The flavours reminded me of eating peas straight from the shell as a child and evoked all sorts of lovely memories
After that it was proper to have a slight wait. To maintain interest a bowl containing weeny mussels and mushrooms, cooked together in mingled broth, was served. Nick’s first mussels. We joked that this was a bit different from the moules frites I had been eagerly devouring in Brittany, and of course it was. Refined and balanced and just a few spoonsful.
Mussel and mushroom soup
The veal was a complex dish, again described in detail as it was presented. Pieces of loin were wrapped in ribbons shaved off asparagus, while squares of belly of veal reminded me of those pork belly cubes, but oh, so much more refined. Crispy on top and melting underneath, they were topped with a fat green asparagus tip. In the centre was a crisply browned veal sweetbread and on the side in a cute little dish was the lemon mousseline sauce. The suckling lamb came on two plates, one a black slate with a potato gratin with three tiny chops and a roasted saddle, separately the confit shoulder. This little lamb died very young I’m afraid.
Veal and asparagus
The suckling lamb. Look at the size of the cutlets.
Cheeses for madame. You bet! From about 60 cheeses, divided into cow/goat/sheep and soft/harder I chose a rochebaron (runny blue and coated in ash it was just begging to be eaten); morbier, a raw milk cow cheese, rather mild; and caruchon, a blue washed rind cheese from the Aveyron.
Part of the cheese trolley. That grey one on the left was begging to be eaten. By later in the night it was all gone.
Dessert, well my two choices were both unusual. The salty meringue was a hollow dome sitting over milk sorbet, with large raspberries stuffed with avocado cream. Loved the salty meringue, a little less enamoured of the avocado with raspberries though it all worked well together. The cherry dish was a bed of cherry granita, several poached, split cherries with a jelly in the centre and several that appeared whole but had a meringue “stone”. No idea how they did it. The waiter cut one cherry to show me the centre. I thought perhaps the flavour of cherry did not come through strongly. It was maybe just a bit too delicate. Still good though.
Salty and sweet dessert, half portion
Cherry and meringue, the other half
Now Nick’s strawberries were very simple to look at on the plate, sliced strawberries over strawberry jam with granita and strawberry juice, topped by slices of crisp strawberry, Strawberry crisps are a new one on us, but lets have some more. The dish looked small but Nick was very happy with it. We were also a bit naughty and had a dessert wine each, Nick a Gewurztraminer and mine a Jasnier.
And then, well the dessert trolley of course, to fill any holes you might have left. While they offered substantial things like cheesecake and clafoutis, they also had little marshmallows home made in different flavours, about 6 ice-creams in beaded, cold, silver jars and they handed out iced lollies on sticks and tiny soft poached meringue squares with strawberry jam centres and earl grey sorbet and chocolate mousse (Nick) and salty caramel icecream (me).
(Sorry, I use a small camera hand held, and the pictures here were just not in focus)
It all sounds excessive, but it really was in quite small portions and spread over three hours. It was delicious, it was theatre, it left you feeling very good indeed from the whole experience. The warmth of the attention and service was judged just right to be polished and professional but not fawning or supercilious in any way. We exchanged comments and jokes, met Guy Savoy himself, who personally greets all guests, and left feeling that we had had a wonderful evening. Oh, and I asked for a copy of the menu and it was given cheerfully, in a Guy Savoy carry bag.
Sometimes, my friends, you CAN go back!
Bottom line, for those who will want to know, was E700 or about $940aud. Approximately 1/3 of that cost was wine.
The Prestige menu of 8 courses is E298/head
The Colours, Textures and Savours menu of 11 courses is E360/head