Thursday, January 11, 2007

Top-tastic table

I do occasionally book restaurants through toptable and as a reward for using their site they award me points. And when you get enough points you can exchange them for a special menu at a few selected locations. However, if you don’t use your points within the year, they expire. I suddenly realised that my points were expiring on the 12th January so I’d made a swift booking at Le Pont de la Tour and persuaded the enigmatic ZZ (or possibly soon to be renamed to ’The’ J at his behest!) to accompany me on this mission.
The meal was in the main restaurant and not the bar so we had the ’posh’ china and tablecloths and they gave us a glass of Champagne as part of the set menu.
The set menu only had a few choices but there were a few interesting options so that’s perfectly acceptable, it only becomes an issue when the chef has gone on some massive tomato and goats‘ cheese bender - fortunately, he hadn’t!
We both started with the foie gras chicken liver parfait with toasted brioche. This was extremely smooth and flavoursome and served in one of those fluted ramekins sealed with a little clarified butter. Just how it should be! We also had some melba toast to tuck into and the proffered bread basket just in case the brioche wasn’t enough.
I then selected the daube de boeuf with pomme mousseline but I did check that they weren’t planning to spoil one of my favourite French bistro classics by adulterating it with tomatoes and olives, à la Provençal if you will. I was assured by our waiter that wouldn’t dream of such a travesty. And a mighty fine exponent of the daube family this was, just perfect and if I had a spoon I would have eaten it with one to prove that I could. It was possibly the darkest piece of meat ever and I would have taken a better photograph by placing a lump of coal on a pool of black treacle. But it tasted so much better than it looked in this picture. And the mousseline; well of course this is the creamiest, softest mash ever to mop of the gorgeous meaty juices. Another worthy addition to the mash potato hall of fame.
‘The’ J tucked somewhat happily into the roast salmon, with a fricassee of wild mushrooms, parsley puree and fresh truffle. I am quite intrigued by salmon and truffle as they don’t seem the most obvious of marriages, though I guess perfect with the fricassee.
Rather unusually ‘The’ J examined the three choices of desserts - crème brulee, bowl of ice cream and sorbet or the infamous petit pot au chocolat with a warm Madeline and challenged our (now) waitress to ’surprise him’ between the crème brulee or pot au chocolat. But definitely no sorbet! I ordered the petit pot au chocolat, naturellement! But as you’ve probably guessed, they ignored The J and gave him the raspberry sorbet and mint chocolate ice cream and I had totally forgotten that they poured a gallon of cream over the pot au chocolate - sacré blue! So we swapped! The raspberry sorbet was a wonderful flavour and the ice cream was very good also, it saved me from having to send the chocolate pot back and the J got his surprise after all! This was all washed down with a bottle of Portuguese Lokal Silex 2004.
I think that this was a great meal, I like the way Le Pont de la Tour serve beautifully made bistro food but in a terribly refined environment. There is a lack of pretension to their food; you hear the gently tinkling of the grand piano in the bar and get to choose from a very un-bistro like extensive wine list ably guided towards the more ’impressive’ bottles by the sommelier. He gave me a choice of three ranging from £25, £55 or £90 but said that the cheapest was not right with our meal! Hmmm, naturellement!
Now that I’ve eaten in le Pont de la Tour restaurant as opposed to the bar and they served me such an immaculate daube and mash, I think they should get another fork. Thank you toptable for encouraging me to partake in such a delicious meal.

No comments: