We were at Le Clarence last fall for lunch and so this spring we tried their dinner service. The physical location had not changed but it did feel different without the sunlight streaming in the windows. The same menus cost more at dinner but they offer the same great and friendly service at both times. Of the 3 tasting menus we chose the Menu Inspiration. The meal was presented with groupings of different plates, sometimes presented together and others in succession. It made for fun combinations. We ended up at the exact same table, but that was fine because I think it is the prettiest of the rooms. However with the large, well spaced tables, all the rooms offer a lovely atmosphere for dining. Chef Christophe Pelé was in house and stopped by to say hello to Frankie, as did restaurant manager Cédric Servain. Chef’s creativity and flavor intensity make this a place a must when you are next eating in Paris. It is pure, relaxed elegance. I did take photos of a number of the old photographs in the menu and will place them throughout this post.
We had a Negroni cocktail while we looked over the wine list and munched on some tasty amuse bouche. Besides the long, thin, crisp and tasty breadsticks there were a whelk, fried French goat cheese and a Comté cheese gougere. The whelk was chewy, moist, plump and wonderful. The goat cheese was inside a light fried shell in a huge air pocket. It was tasty. Gougeres are about the most wonderful appetizer when done right and these were with nicely flavored Comté and a perfect pastry. They brought a lemon water finger bowl for afterwards.
Langoustine was plated with radish, creamy buffalo milk and langoustine roe. It was a nice combination of flavors and textures.
A brioche roll was next and it was more like a croissant in a roll shape. There was a little salt on top. Totally buttery bread with a flakey crisp outer layer, it didn’t need butter but they brought it in case you wanted to really indulge. I could have eaten a tray of them and they did offer to bring more but I wisely declined as I knew there was much more to come. A bread basket offered a selection of the same breadsticks, a brown country bread and baguette slices. All fresh with good crusts and nice dense interiors.
Cuttlefish, green chili pepper, curd of ewes and fresh almonds made up the first part of the next set. A piece of ham was curled on the top which added a nice amount of saltiness and was good. The cuttlefish had been cut with a pattern that made it very tender and the chili pepper enhanced with a bit of spiciness. The cheese moderated all.
A deep fried cuttlefish was plated with daikon radish and “tonnato sauce”. Underneath was some raw squid with and oil and garlic sauce. This dish was full of interesting textures and fun flavors.
Grilled red mullet with the skin, Paris mushrooms, raw duck foie gras and fermented plum and citrus was the first part of the next series. The foie gras and citrus helped to moderate the stronger flavor of the mullet to make a good combination.
Raw red mullet, avocado, borage, candied orange and broad beans made up the second part. The avocado was in a tasty cream form. This plate had excellent flavors helped by the borage herb. The raw fish had no pastiness and rather tasted wonderfully fresh.
Brill fish, pilpil sauce, cockle, smoked sausage, Indian cress flowers and peas were the first part of the next round. The fish was sweet and moist and the peas were amazing without a hint of starch. This was an excellent dish.
With it came morels, oyster and sorrel. The oyster was wrapped in the sorrel leaf and the juicy plump morel was on top. A little buttery salty sauce tied it all together.
The last part of the group was green asparagus with sabayon and a citrus condiment topped with a raw large prawn. The large asparagus were perfectly cooked with good strong flavor. The citrus element was excellent with the asparagus and prawn. Excellent flavors here and an overall really good grouping of options.
A stand alone course was a sweetbread “KFC” style with green chili pepper and Chinese caviar. The sweetbread was creamy with no chalkiness. The sauce had a hint of mint and spice that went well with the organ meat. An amazing combination – a really perfect pairing of sweetbread and caviar. This one was a new pairing for me and a wonderful one at that.
Duck, spaghetti of potato, cuttlefish ink and anchovy started the next set of dishes. This was a good plate with very blendable flavors.
Ravioli of Swiss chard, almond butter and amaranthine leaf was even better with the amazing ravioli bursting with flavor.
The final part was fried artichoke, duck and foie gras. The fried artichoke was stuffed with the well done bits of meat for a really yummy hash affect and then topped with a piece of seared foie gras. This was a wow one and a total yum. They left the extra sauce on the table and it was so well reduced it turned into jelly. Talk about packed with flavor, this was great smeared on bread.
A selection of refined cheeses from the cheese cart was next. They offer a good range of choices – sheep, cow and goat – that are cut when you pick them and give you a nice bit of your choices. Alongside was mango and vanilla preserves that were amazing and outstanding paired with the delicious cheese.
A selection of desserts followed. Lemon cream with basil jelly, grapefruit sorbet, mango & passion fruit chunks with candied pistachio on top, a Pavlova (meringue) with grapefruit and red fruits and a biscuit filled with almond cream.
Next came a chocolate soufflé, a black chocolate mousse from Sao Tomé and vanilla ice cream with black rice.
The final treat was a macaron of vanilla cream and nougatine.