Recently I had the opportunity to dine at Le Comptoir, one of the most affordable tasting menus in this city at $79 for 7-courses, and L’Arpège whose vegetable tasting menu will set you back quite a few Euros for 12-courses.
Both restaurants feature vegetables picked from the chef’s personal gardens, which might explain why Le Comptoir has only two seatings at 6PM and 8:30 PM, and only 4 nights a week. Located in Koreatown inside the Hotel Normandie, the restaurant seats only 10 guests at a time at the countertop where every seat has a perfect view of the delicate dance between Chef Gary Menes, his two assistants, and one dishwasher. The very essence of dinner theatre.
A lunch at L’Arpège is a nearly 5 hour dining extravaganza with dozens of servers swirling around you while still managing to keep this 3-Michelin star experience down to earth. Chef Alain Passard earned his first star just a year after the restaurant opened in 1986, and his third star 10 years later in 1996. Visiting in 2016 it is nice to see that 30 years later he is still visiting each table at lunch and has not been blinded by the Michelin stars in his eyes.
While I generally find myself asking “where’s the beef” when presented with an all veggie entree, these are two experiences where the vegetables and I were as happy as peas and carrots. Please enjoy a walk through the gardens of Chef Gary Menes and Chef Alain Passard with me.
Note that Le Comptoir is shown course by course while I just picked my favorites from L’Arpege.
Amuse…Something Amusing – Le Comptoir
Amuse Bouche – L’Arpège
Japanese Mountain Yam Velouté (Pre) – Le Comptoir
Japanese Mountain Yam Velouté (Post) – Le Comptoir
Louise Passard’s “Parmentier” Kasha Grains – L’Arpège
Vegetable & Fruit Plate – Le Comptoir
Mesclun with hazelnut praline Mibuna, mizuna, chose… – L’Arpège
Poached Organic Hen Egg…Lettuce from the Garden – Le Comptoir
White asparagus from the Sarthe region with olive oil – L’Arpège
“Peas and Carrots” Pommes Puree, Jus de Truffe – Le Comptoir
Spring Cabbage stuffed with Nettle leaves fresh Thermidrome Garlic – L’Arpège
Butternut Squash, Scallion, Wheat Berries, Dried Fruit Relish – Le Comptoir
Vol-au-vent with Côtes du Jura Wine Peas, Turnip, Mangetout peas – L’Arpège