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It's one of those places where every detail counts, where a Michelin star is taken very seriously, where perfection is found in the smallest of details, where the decor is enchanting and service is just perfect. Dinner at the St.James is an experience I would recommend to all my friends and would repeat every time I have the chance to. Be welcomed to Paris' only castle hotel and live like the princes and kings of the last century.
The restaurant is really enchanting... it is deserving of two stars, not only the one it has been awarded, especially when compared to other "one star" restaurants I've visited lately. I mentioned my garlic intolerance by email and was asked about it on arrival.
As a start, a small amuse-bouche: a velouté de courgettes, served in a glass cup with mayonnaise câpres et anchois next to a tempura de choux romanesco served warm and crunchy.
Fraîcheur de concombre, anguille fumée followed, a creation by the chef to whet your appetite. I would call this magic with a cucumber, a light airy cream of cucumber infused with mint and mixed with crunchy cucumbers and a zest of lemon. If this is the first impression, I can only imagine what the main dishes are all about.
Jean-Luc Rocha, master of the kitchens is worth mentioning; bravo chef!
A basket of bread passed around, a plate of three different butter mixes, the candle was lit, wine poured while the experience started taking shape. Three kinds of butter, yellow, orange and black: piment d'espelettes; algues; sel fumé.
I was happy and transported, enjoying the details, the staff moving around in style and the details of every decorative item added in the large room. A high ceiling, portraits to decorate the walls, chandeliers suspended from above, large relaxing sofas, silverware, soft lighting and the same carpet as in the bedroom, soft and smooth imitating the pattern of parquet flooring.
For the food:
- Foie gras chaud en croûte de sesame et pavot, pickles de légumes et sorbets melon.
- Maigre marine au jus de yuzu, herbes potagères, sorbet de poivron jaune et passion.
- Filet de lotte rissolée au beurre de kasha, légumes de saison.
- Filet de bœuf Aubrac réduction de betteraves rouges, asperges vertes et cromesqui de blettes au jus réduit.
The plates look like pieces of art, paintings on round porcelain, colors and shapes, passion and fun. I loved how things were presented, how the waiter described them, so much to enjoy even before getting to taste.
The food is succulent:
- A crunchy envelop of sugar and sesame embraces a warm foie gras served with melon balls and melon sorbet. Oh my God I screamed looking around in case someone heard me, the different textures, the foie gras' temperature, the sweetness of the melon and coldness of the fresh sorbet all together in one balanced bite will make you scream. Oh Wow! It's an amazing plate, the end notes of salt, the sweetness... the love poured into it! It is beyond great!
- White fish, yuzu, lemon, cold and soft, crunchy and tender... a plate to activate your five senses. The chef knows how to play with your senses... a rollercoaster of feelings around my palate, the acidity combined with sweetness and the sour notes. Loved it!
- Filet de lotte, a hard textured fish served with crunchy nuts, butter and colorful vegetables. The fish texture is a bit hard, juicy but not soft as I expected it to be. Good food but not super exceptional like the starters. Couldn't write more than the lines above.
- Expected better from the meat dish: tender meat prepared blue with a beetroot sauce, oregano gnocchi and a side plate of asparagus and scallion. An interesting plate of several flavors but again not as great as the starters I tried. Amazing meat, a simple sauce but below average gnocchi.
We even had a pre-dessert! Never had this before. Pineapple basil sorbet with baba au rum. A bed of pineapples, a strong flavor of basil, a light cream and a moist soaked bread. Interesting!
- Chocolat garupano en fine mousse. Craquant à la noix de pecan, coulis de cacao avec glace au lait.
- Fraises des bois, mousse au citron noir, fraises ciflorette en sorbet et compotée, croustillant pistache.
Oh my goodness! Is this real I ask myself? The chocolate dessert is out of this world. Dark chocolate from Venezuela, salted biscuits, crunchy pecan, vanilla ice cream... what a mix! A Master's challenge to one of the world's best desserts, a balance of butter and sweetness, dark and light, crunchy and soft: a super dessert.
Then tiny little strawberries, a zesty soft mousse and a crunchy pistachio biscuit.
Amuses bouches to wrap up this amazing experience, leaving me happy and amazed by every single detail this restaurant has thought of. Two thumbs up for making me happy, bravo chef and most importantly bravo dessert chef Mathias Alet. Choix au citron, fraise Rubarbe and milk chocolate with lemon, three bites to confirm the professionalism and perfection of this restaurant.
I loved it here! An experience you will enjoy.