Monday, June 29, 2009

La Maison de Marc Veyrat

There were 2 restaurants that I really wish to visit: Le Louis XV and Marc Veyrat. Thankfully, I managed to visit both of them in autumn 2008. Even I dined at Le Louis XV twice, whereas for Marc Veyrat I had a meal at his last fine dining restaurant since he had sold La Ferme de Mon Père in 2006. La Maison de Marc Veyrat, located at the edge of a lake in the village of Veyrier du Lac - about a mile south of Annecy, is a world-class restaurant offering a unique dining experience. The food is fundamentally French with the focus on upscale Apline cuisine. The dining experience is unique – scrumptious, innovative and amusing; in fact it’s almost ritualistic. The focus is not on any particular dish, rather than the overall symphony of a delicious but horrendously expensive degustation menu. The dining room is stylish with ceiling frescoes located at the ground floor of his hotel in rustic pine; wood and iron materials dominated the kitchen. The atmosphere is lively in which the staffs are energetic explaining how each dish is prepared and what ingredients are used; obviously they are proud of working in one of the best establishments in France. The service is indeed impeccable. There is only one menu unfortunately, but guests are welcome to let the kitchen know if they have any food allergy. Here is the detail of Monsieur Veyrat’s symphony that he claims to be the cuisine of the 21st century.

Amuse Bouche: Begin with the hot drink from "chemical tube" that is a mixture of fennel, peas & mint; perch fish with light green sauce; onion bread with wild spinach in pizza-shape; and soda-Veyrat containing mint, sour moustard ... it's cooling in the throat, what a start! The beginning of a symphony by a genius

Yaourt virtuel, jus d’acha
(Virtual yoghurt with acha juice) - The low calory of "hot foie gras" served with sour cream and fragrant myrrh, whereas the cold & light foie gras served with chutney and brioche (not buttery)

Les raviolis de l’environnement de Manigod (Ravioli from the Manigod environment) - A selection of local herbs ... carrot & fennel (top), turnip with little black truffle, and tomato & ravioli with white flowers. The parade of different level sweetness among wild plants

Asperge verte sauvage, fruit de la passion, écume romarin (Deconstructed of wild green Asparagus served with Passion fruit and Rosemary foam) - A creative skill of molecular gastronomy where the asparagus would explode in the mouth, in general it's a unique and entertaining dish but not that delicious

Soupe d’ici dite chinoise (This is the Chinese soup) - As the name suggest, this soup containing wild & chinese mushrooms as well as some deconstructed stocks. Simple and tasty without any typical Chinese "medicine" smell or flavor

Œuf à la coque, écume de maïs piqûre de carvi
(Soft-cooked egg served with injection of corn foam and caraway seeds) - In addition, I could taste some pistachio, wild cumin inside the egg, served with egg-white chip flavored with Indian spices. Good, but not better than Arpege's egg

Nouilles disparaissantes (sans farine, ni œuf), sorbet cardamine (Disappearing noodles, without any flour or egg, served with cardamine sorbet) - The virtual noodle made of cheese is melted through the pouring of hot chicken stock soup, mixed with cold watercress sorbet. Excellent and entertaining!

Féra du lac à l’unilatéral, Benoîte urbaine (Fish from unilateral Fera lake served with cappuccino sauce) - A fresh local fish of good texture with the flavor of mint capuccino sauce. Furthermore, there are a mixture of cockle, red pepper, onion and zucchini below the fish

Bar au jus de sardine, emulsion d’avoine (Sea bass served with sardine juice and oat emulsion) - A beautiful combination of sour & sweet flavor while the the bar is fresh with the right texture

Langoustine pochée, bonbon de serpolet (Poached spiny lobster served with wild thyme sweet) - Incredibly tender and tasty langoustine enchanced by the thyme; simple and delicious served in Japanese style

Boudin de perche, jus de verveine (Sausage-shaped perch and lemongrass-verbena juice) - Fish sausage prepared without any butter and cream, very delicate ... just OK for me

Beignet des sous bois cuit à l’azote (Undergrowth fritter cooked with nitrogen) - Chef Veyrat applying molecular technique to form some kinds of lemon/mango and earthly wild herbs meringues, very fascinating and amusing ... oh it's also good

Filet de bœuf, sirop de cresson (Beef filet served with watercress sirop) - Medium well & tender steak is yummy, there are cheese and black truffle in between the pie/bread and the beef. Side dishes: potatoes, mix of asparagus, carrots etc. for the veggies

Tartifilette déstructurée (Deconstructed tartiflette served in a box) - One of the restaurants' signature dishes. It consists of separated cream of bacon, reblochon, potatoes and onion with white wine. Strong tastes and somewhat pungent smells

L’ercheu de notre fierté régionale (Cheese platter from the Ercheu and Savoy region) - I have Reblochon (delicate and nutty), Bleu de Termignon (fragrant and rich, my fav), Beaufort (fruity & salty), Tomme de Montagne (quite light). All of them are from Savoy & French Alps area

Les desserts de ma fille Carine (Desserts by chef’s daughter, Carine) part 1 - Blueberry, shortbread and mild mint foam. Nothing really special here

Les desserts de ma fille Carine (Desserts by chef’s daughter, Carine) part 2 - Lychee, raspberry, vanilla cream, red fruit and short + crumble bread. Creamy, cool and sweet

Les trois crèmes brûlées d’ici et dailleurs (Tree crème brulee and dailleurs) - The white one is licorice, the brown one is chicovete, it's rather bitter. Mixed them and each will tame the other's taste. There are caramel & raspberry, both taste like bubble gum

I opened my meal with a glass of champagne (in-house recipe). There are 3 kinds of house-baked bread only served that day: baguette, pistachio and olives - all of them are tasty. To accompany my long tasting menu, I had 2 additional glasses of wine. The 1st one (white) was 2004 Domaine G. Berlioz Chignin-Bergeron - it lacked in acidity with interesting aromas; another one (red) was 2004 Chateau le Puy - a dark wine with oak smell and a touch of creaminess. The kitchen here is using an open-kitchen concept in which one could see Marc Veyrat was around checking his staffs for the first 30 min after the restaurant opened. This restaurant is quite high-tech comparing to other 3-star places. The staffs used PDA-like device to monitor what dish a certain table is having or when the next dish should be sent in. I would say the meal here was spectacular, my favorite place to dine after L'Arpege. The ugly part is that Marc Veyrat re-defined what expensive really meant for both the food and wines. However, it's worth it and the restaurant was fully-booked too. This is the establishment like no other. It meant even more knowing that a few months later, chef Veyrat, followed the step of Olivier Roellinger, gave up Michelin's and Gault-Millau's highest accolade by closing the restaurant for good.

Marc Veyrat, the son of peasants from the French Alps, is eccentric yet genius. He always wears his large black Savoyard peasant’s hat and dark spectacles, totally the opposite of Paul Bocuse wearing the traditional white toque. In addition, unlike Bernard Pacaud who always gets the meat, fishes and vegetables from the top suppliers all over the world, chef Veyrat used ingredients, mainly herbs and plants, from his own area – the pastures and Alpine woods such as: gentian, wild garlic, green moss etc. Marc Veyrat practices distinctive style of cooking; he revolutionized the rigid temple of fine French cooking to new and creative ideas. He humbly explained that his cooking is the peasant version of nouvelle cuisine. He also wandered around the dining room to amuse primarily his French speaking guests (It's a nice development that the chef could walk again after he sufferend from the ski accident). Veyrat believes that when a client pays €300-400 per head, he/she has the right to have a handshake with the owner/head chef in addition to having an exceptional meal. It is indeed true that dining here is more than enjoying delicious food; it is also about an exceptional experience of the nature and culture of the region. I'm truly grateful to be able to savor the intelligent and creative cooking of Monsieur Veyrat, the France culinary giant. Here are the pictures,

Food (and Wine): 98 pts

Service (and Ambiance): 95 pts

Overall: 97/100