Waiting for our table at the Park Hyatt Paris-Vendôme’s Le Pur’ restaurant, we had a feeling of overwhelming luxury. Welcomed for a cocktail at the bar while our table was being prepared, everyone knew who we were, when we were eating and were happy to help with our every question or request. It might have been what you’d expect from a Michelin-starred restaurant led by Jean-François Rouquette but attention to detail from all the staff was really impressive.
After arriving a little early, we had expected we’d maybe be seated upon arrival, but when we were asked to our table on the dot of 8pm it became apparent why the staff held us back. Treated to an extended 12-course taster menu, it was obvious the kitchen had been preparing our meal for some time. After a few minutes to settle and take in the ambiance, we were served the tasting wine for our first course before the dishes started to come out of the kitchen.
Kicking off as Jean-François Rouquette meant to go on, duck foie gras lollypops accompanied a fantastic amuse bouche. Though the foie gras might have been a little rich for anyone not used to the rich taste, the amuse bouche blew us away. Including a mini steak tartar, black and white sesame sticks and two other elements, the tartar was so flavourful yet subtly seasoned I could have had it as a main, while the sesame sticks were the perfect side accompaniment.
After tasting two beautifully creamy butters for the breads that popped up throughout the dinner, the next course was a French cheese with garden peas, crumble and a fish jelly. Served a very measured amount of the cheese, not too much for those who aren’t big dairy eaters but enough to take in the strong flavours, they were an interesting pairing with the jelly, the textures proving surprisingly complementary.
Moving towards the main, the next course was a duck foie gras ravioli in a delicious root broth with garden herbs, paired with a wonderfully crisp 2007 Kiraldyurvard Sec white wine from Hungary. Broth often struggles with feeling bland when it is a side element but here it set the ravioli off even more. Two strong flavours in the ravioli might have been too much for your palette but the dish was delicate enough to avoid overpowering, and with just five of them, the perfect amount considering the number of courses left.
After quite rich starters the next two courses were the perfect to refresh the palette. Accompanied by a 2011 Schiste from Coteau de Cevins, green and white asparagus from Mallemort were served with souffléed revered rice, coconut milk and lemon zest to complete one of the most delicate and delicious courses of the dinner. Its freshness was matched by another beautiful course to follow.
By this point we had grown hugely impressed by the paired wines with each course, and the next was no different. Alongside a plump yet delicate poached/grilled anglerfish, served with broad beans arabica tonka and white and green Swiss chard, the wine to match was perfect. Complementing the taste of the fish with some sharper notes the 2009 Clos Saint Philibert Monopole was one of the best white wines I’ve ever had.
Though by now we were starting to get a little full, the next course was the best of the night. Served with French toast with speck and salsifi with cocoa butter and pickled pears, the clutch of medallions of sautéed venison was one of the best meat dishes of my whole life. Like a knife through butter, the venison was so tender and delicate to say it was cooked to perfect would be an understatement. Keeping up appearances, the paired 2010 Clos Lalfert wine was similarly impressive.
As I’m not a big cheese eater, I was a little worries by another cheese course before the deserts, but the Beaufort cheese and chicory went down with ease before a part of the menu we had been looking forward to since the start.
Desert is often where chefs can show off their creativity and the three-part end to our fantastic tasting menu paid testament to that. The first was a creamed chocolate with Mexican vanilla and berry jus, delicately flavoured so it wasn’t over sweet.
The showpiece, however, was a dark chocolate leaf filled with a light mascarpone mouse, served alongside tangerine preserved in ginger syrup. While there were two on the plate I could have eaten another 10, impressive considering we’d long-lost count of what course we were on, such was the ease at which they slipped down the throat. Each came with yet more delicious paired wines.
Accompanied by a sumptuous Ethiopian Moka espresso, the final course was an amuse-bouche of mini doughnut fingers, almond sponge and dipped ice cream lollypops.
After 12 courses I don’t think you need question whether we were full, but thanks to the measured portions it stayed just on the right side of being comfortable – after the tasting wines, we were feeling a little tipsy too – but what stood out was the restaurant as a whole. The food was a fantastic mix of fine dining, conceptual flavours and a home-cooked warmth. Given space to take in the ambience and enjoy the company of your fellow guests, tables are placed with a lavish amount of room to breathe as Le Pur’ easily ranks amongst the very best restaurants we’ve ever dined at. I’d heartily recommend opting for the tasting menu as the flow of dishes and service from the exceptional staff really makes it feel like a special experience.
Without a doubt we will be going back and I won’t be surprised if by then, head chef Jean-François Rouquette is showing off a second Michelin star on the door.
Booking information can be found on the Le Pur’ website: www.paris-restaurant-pur.fr
Le Pur’, Park Hyatt Paris-Vendôme, 5 Rue de la Paix, 75002 Paris