Friday, May 26, 2017

Sneak Preview from the Kitchen

As our friend Fabrice is ready for his new post heading The Tasting Room in Macau after moving on from Caprice, we want to pay him a visit just to catch up, and CYY’s birthday in mid-May gave us the perfect excuse to spend a weekend in town as part of the celebration. So I let him know of our plan in advance and check whether the restaurant would be open then after being closed for the past few months for a makeover.

Turned out the restaurant was only open for their in-house guests on the night we dined there – the official re-opening didn’t come until two days later, and to our even bigger surprise, Chef Fabrice has arranged a special table for us inside the kitchen. That came totally unexpected and we were very grateful for this Chef’s Table experience inside the brand-new kitchen totally remodeled.

We left it entirely in the good hands of him and his team for our dinner menu, as we often did previously. We started with a beautifully-plated amuse-bouche, with vegetable custard and lobster jelly served in a bone china bowl, topped with tongues of sea urchin and fresh julienned root vegetables. That was followed by the lobster "tart", another picture-like presentation with layers of lobsters prepared in various ways, then topped with brunoise vegetables, caviar and bits of watermelon – I love that little touch of sweetness and hint of summer from the watermelon, combined with the emphatic caviar taste and the lobster in many forms and textures.

The combination of foie gras and cherry was not exactly any new invention, but the duck jus served in two ways (jelly sheet and reduction sauce) as condiments gave the dish a new dimension of taste along with the perfectly done foie in delicate texture. More crustacean dish made it to our table – hardly surprising since that has always been Chef Fabrice's specialty – and it was another great dish, with the gently cooked langoustine served with squid ink pasta, green peas and spring onion emulsion. The soft and warm disc of onion custard reminded me of chawanmushi with the distinct sweet onion taste, while the emulsion on top, made of spring onions and garlic flower, was lighter with more a floral note.

I loved the Mediterranean flair of our next course of poached sole fillet. Underneath was a red wine reduction – a precarious choice I thought for seafood pairing but went well – and on top were thinly sliced octopus tentacles dressed like scales on the fish, then tomato salsa (mixed with pieces of octopus' suction cups) and light drizzle of olive oil. On the side was thin disc of marinated potatoes topped with clams and a light shellfish vinaigrette dressing. It would be hard to find a fish course as rich as this, yet it contrasted well with the clean seafood flavors present.

Our main course was lamb. Yup, lamb was normally not my favorite ingredient of all, but this particular one was the rare exception. (we had lamb a numerous occasions at Caprice and I loved them) The Aveyron baby lamb was cooked tender with a tasty seared crust, and on the side was a grilled halved zucchini topped with eggplant caviar mixed with black olives, and a medley of French Riviera vegetables. It was well executed and just as what I expected.

Cheese and desserts were not the strongest part of our meal this evening and probably not something I will be drooling about long after; nonetheless I thought they were decent. We went with sommelier's choices for wine pairing and had more than a few glasses. Started with a champagne (Pol Roger) and ended with another one (Billecart-Salmon Rose). In between there were a few old world whites then a bottle of red for our main course. L'interdit by Jules Desjourneys was a serious Beaujolais but fun to drink. Mildly floral on the nose, good weight but not much of tannin, some ripe red fruits and earthiness on the palate with a rustic aftertaste. Went well with the lamb.

As Chef Fabrice continues to build up the teams and with all the new plans that are to be unfolded in the coming months at the restaurant, we should expect even better things to come with everything looking promising so far already. Good luck Chef, thanks for your generous treat this evening and letting us crash in your kitchen for a fabulous celebration meal, and we for sure are looking forward to coming back soon.

Full set of pictures from the dinner at:

When? May 20 2017
Where? The Tasting Room, Level 3, Crown Towers, City of Dreams, Macau
Menu Highlights? Line-caught sole scaled octopus, Cote du Rhone Wine Sauce, Marinated Potatoes, Shellfish Vinaigrette dressing
Champagne Pol Roger Reserve Brut NV
2014 Dr Loosen "Wehlener Sonnenuhr" Riesling Spatlese
2013 Domaine Billaud Simon Petit Chablis
2013 Domaine Leflaive Pouilly-Fuisse
2008 Domaine Jules Desjourneys L'Interdit VDF
Champagne Billecart-Salmon Brut Rose NV

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