Monday, April 3, 2017

Le relais de l'entrecote, Paris

I never liked restaurants with huge menus that serve every kind of dishes and cuisines. It had to be a seafood place, a meat place or Italian, Chinese etc

A case where a restaurant serves just one dish is kind of intriguing for me, and that is exactly what Le Relais de l'entrecote is about.

It all started in 1959 from Paul Gineste de Saurs in the Porte Maillot with the opening of « Le Relais de Venise-Son Entrecôte ». Soon after the Relais de l’Entrecôte opened as a bistrot in Paris keeping up till today with the same recipe. 

We visited the Marbeuf bistrot near the Champs-Elysees while other addresses do exist in Paris (Benoit and Montparnasse) and one more in Geneva. The decor is typical Parisian with small tables and bamboo chairs outside, wooden inside close to each others. Wooden panels cover the walls, red cloths are on tables with white paper cloths on top and yellow cotton napkins. 

As I previously said, this bistrot serves only one dish, entrecote with french fries, you don't get a regular menu but rather just a simple question, ''how would you like your steak cooked?''. We opted for medium. Truth to be told you get a wine menu and a dessert menu. 

At first we were offered some pieces of freshly made baguette with an extremely hot mustard, along with a green salad with walnuts and radish which is complimentary with the steak. Then the steak arrived in a big platter, enough to fill the plate of each dinner for 2 times. The meat, tender and juicy and the fries crispy were then poured with an amazing green sauce. You can look on the net for the secret recipe, I did and found some different versions with spices and herbs even anchovies. Whatever was in the sauce the result was simply amazing. 

We had a bottle of Chateau de Saurs from Vignoble Gaillacois, north west of Toulouse, which was ok and priced as much as other restaurants-bistrots in Paris charge for just a glass. So definitely you shouldn't skip wine here. 

At service there was a lovely Italian lady, very friendly and chatty while also pretty fast. 

Don't expect to make a reservation for this bistrot. We had to wait almost half an hour to be seated, but it was totally worth it. Not only everything is so tasty but also very fairly priced and with excellent value wine. 

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Hytra, Athens ( * )

Hytra  means terracotta vase, a utility object from ancient Greek times. Opened in 2004 in Psiri, in the historical center of Athens, then moved 8 years after to its current location on the sixth and seventh floor of the Onassis Cultural Center. It holds a Michelin star since 2010.

The restaurant looking over Syggrou with views from the upper floor to the Acropolis, the Lycabettus and the Athenian skyline offers classic Greek cuisine with modern techniques, reaching to the molecular gastronomy field.

The head chef Tassos Mantis after being the sous chef of the 3 Michelin star Hof Van Cleeve restaurant of Belgium, took over from Nikos Karathanos in 2014. The decor is modern in earthy colours with yellow lights and a big bar in the center of the salle which is separated in half from a glass wall.    

There is an 8 course menu, a vegetarian one, a 14 course and the a la carte option. We went with the first.

We started with Spanakorizo, a thin rice cracker with spinach, dill and lemon. It was tasty but didn't remind me of the casual Greek food spanakorizo or rice with spinach cooked in the pot.

Beetroot, walnuts, yogurt and rocket flowers was a piece of beetroot that was firstly placed in a dehydrator and then slightly cooked having interesting texture and earthy nutty flavors. We were suggested to place it the vinaigrette that was placed in the big bowl. The roasted walnuts added more texture to the dish although I found the acidic vinegar to be a bit overpowering.

Bread came very hot on a piece of wood with extra virgin olive oil infused with oregano, some thyme and fleur de sel. Simply amazing.

Our farm's egg, salsify wild mushrooms and acorn scented mushroom consome. A poached egg on top of lightly cooked salsify pieces with amazing mushrooms was overall very aromatic and had great flavor. The rich consome worked very well with it.

Quail, spelt wheat, chestnut, fresh truffle and xinotyri from Naxos island. A nicely cooked juicy piece of quail breast (I would guess sous vide) with spelt wheat cooked like a risotto. The raw chestnut adding some texture, the apricot some sweetness and the xinotyri took the place of Parmesan. If I hadn't tried this dish I wouldn't believe wheat could be that tasty.

Back to roots, rooster with celeriac, parsley root and burdock. This dish was the star of the evening. Two pieces of perfectly cooked rooster breast (again I would guess sous vide), the meat having remarkable flavor and was accompanied by a row of good preparations. Shiitake mushrooms, intestines in pannacotta form, burdock puree and celeriac pieces. Chicken, let aside rooster, is hard to cook and because it is one of my favorite meats I have tried it in many restaurants some even being 3 Michelin starred and I will easily say this one was one of the very best.

Yogurt, honey infused with chamomile, walnuts and bee pollen. yogurt was made in different forms, as pannacotta , icecream and crunchy bites. This was pretty refreshing but the portion was very small, so it was more like a predessert rather than the full dessert.

Traditional ''Loukoumi'' scented with fatourada and Marshmallows with pine flavor were presented in a tin nice tin box of Suchard chocolates.

Wine was a bottle of Kikones Estate from Thrake, made by the Chianti Italian grape variety, Sangiovese.  A full bodied, great full flavor wine with medium tannins that I will surely go and buy. There is also wine pairing and cocktail pairing with each menu.

Besides the regular Hytra Michelin starred menu there is also the ''Hytra Apla'' choice. Started 4 years ago it is a collaboration with the famous Greek chef Chrysanthos Karamolegos and consists of casual street food made in a high level at friendlier prices.

The service was very very friendly, attentive and relaxed. Of course I would suggest this restaurant for anyone who wants to taste modern Greek flavors with good quality ingredients that are skillfully prepared and presented. A drawback might be the title of the menu, which is not an 8 course menu but rather a 4 course with two amuse bouche and 2 mignardises.

For further information and prices you can look at hytra's website