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LUCCIANO ZAZZERI, Italian Michelin Star Chef, Visiting Lebanon
Spend one tasting night with Chef Vardon from the 39V restaurant, Paris and you’ll never look back. A couple of weeks ago, the InterContinental Phoenicia hotel hosted a special high-end tasting dinner with a French chef coming directly from Paris, France. Chef Frederic Vardon is a neoclassical cuisine lover that has collaborated with Alain Ducasse as corporate Chef for 14 years, and now set up at 39 Avenue George V, a unique place in the heart of Paris. His gastronomy defines the contemporary, rich and delicious French Cuisine. Elegant, seductive and right, the cuisine draws its inspiration from French culinary heritage, using new techniques in modern style. The first impression is very catchy.
The chef left a written note in his proper handwriting, welcoming us to this journey. He wrote in French: "Toute l'equipe du restaurant Eau De Vie et du 39V se joint a moi pour vous remerceier de voter presence parmi nous."
We experienced a beautiful dinner in 7 courses filled with the finest and noblest ingredients handpicked by the chef: -Urchins, Scallops and line caught Sea Bass delicately complement Foie Gras, Truffle and Farm Veal. - Royal-style warm sea urchins, slice scallops with crispy celery & truffle. - Duck foie gras with toasted & pickled brioche: cold dish comes in 4 layers of gelee and patee with three slices of magret de canard. -Yellow soft brioche with raisins. - Roasted Sea Bass in a green herb sauce with salted butter: 2 pieces of shrimp, 4 pieces of mussels covered with bread crumbs. - Roasted French farm veal, seasonal vegetables & slightly spiced sauce. This voyage of discovery ended with sublime desserts and, of course, Frédéric Vardon’s signature dessert, the 39V Crispy Chocolate Cake.
We had: - Pearly meringues, fresh cream cheese ice cream & chest honey. - Crispy dark chocolate cake with golden leaf. - coffee, sweets & chocolate.
Five wines were carefully selected to accompany the dinner: - 2010 Blanc de Blanc Ksara. - 2003 Rudesheimer Berg Roseneck, Riesling. - 2007 Chateau Fontareche. - 2003 Chateau Meyney, Saint Eatephe. - 2004 Lacrima D'oro Kefraya. Honestly, I didn't understand what the Blanc de Blanc was doing with this selection, and as a first wine. We should have started by the finest and the best. Allow me at the end to add some four small notes that may be mere details, but very important and crucial for this kind of event. The dinner was very good, tasty, amazingly presented, carefully prepared but lacked a bit of savor. Whenever a star Michelin chef invades a kitchen, he should have an 'mmmmmmmm' effect on his guests. By that I mean, closing your eyes after every bite: that, I didn't really feel. The taste would have surely been better if the dishes were less complicated. The music was inappropriate. Lounge music? Followed by Rock? Dance to end it? It was all too loud and that was unacceptable. It is known worldwide that for this kind of event, classical music is a must.
The menu: a French chef, French cuisine, Michelin star, French wines–all this imposes to have a French menu. I have toured restaurants all around the world, even in Seoul, the menu is written in French and maybe translated to English if needed. The price was high, a bit too high compared to events of the same caliber around town. The overall experience was acceptable.