Add: 19 rue Lauriston 75016 Paris
Tel: 01 40 67 11 16
Hours: 12~2:30pm, 7~10:30pm (closed on Sunday)
Price: [lunch] €35 [dinner] €60~80 [dinner with wine pairing] €90~120
Visited on: 2012/10
Akrame Benallal’s small dining room in the 16th is known to be spontaneous – there’s no menu, guests only have a choice between 3 courses (lunch only, €35), 4 courses (€60/$90 with wine pairing), or 6 courses (€80/€120 with wine pairing). I was really looking forward to trying this restaurant after hearing so many good things from both friends and online reviews, but in the end my personal experience turned out to be less than impressive. The dishes were indeed quite intriguing, but didn’t exactly taste all that delicious.
On another note, I’m also not a fan of the tattooed women on the walls…
Sourdough served with house-made lime tarragon butter.
We decided to take the 4-course option with wine pairing (€90), which started with a trio of delightful amuse bouche: caviar with parmesan cake, lime crisp with avocado puree, and smoked eel.
The amuse bouche was followed by eggs mayonnaise sprinkled with chives and garlic bread croutons. I can’t quite describe the texture of the eggs mayonnaise – it’s kind of fluffy, kind of creamy, very light and almost bordering on bland, but thankfully the garlic bread croutons added a much welcomed dose of flavor.
As Akrame’s dishes are on the light side, some diners might want to make good use of salt and pepper.
The first course was cauliflower with orange flower puree and garlic bread crumbs. While it’s an intriguing dish, I can’t say I considered it delicious. It tasted raw and…bland.
Paired with a glass of Lucien Muzard et Fils 2010 Bourgogne Aligoté
The second course was black perch from Loire with creamy butter pear sauce. It was topped with a layer of pear jelly with powdered tarragon, but the flavor was so subtle that it could barely be discerned when the butter pear sauce was so rich and heavenly. What I remembered most about this dish was actually the green leaf on the right side on the picture, which – very surprising – tasted like oysters! The waitress later told us that the leaf is indeed called “oyster leaf”. How interesting.
Paired with a glass of Eric Morgat L’Enclos Savennières.
A sorbet as palate cleanser.
The main course of the meal was veal with cepe mushroom, covered in a thin layer of charcoal. Perhaps cooked sous-vide, the veal was quite tender, but again it tasted under-seasoned even with the accompanying sauce.
The veal was served with a side dish of mashed potato with cepe mushrooms. Very creamy, slightly sticky, not bad at all.
Paired with a glass of Château Chasse-Spleen Moulis-en-Médoc 1996.
Desserts came in three parts. The first was an unusual combination of cucumber jelly with white chocolate sorbet, white chocolate shavings, chopped lime, and shiso bulbs.
The second part was white cheese with honey and crumble. Simple and straight-forward, I only wish there’s more honey to it.
The last and the most satisfying part of dessert was chocolate cream with kumquat. The sweet of the chocolate was balanced with the sour of the kumquat, and its smoothness contrasted by a layer of chewy caramel and crunchy praline.
The meal ended with some lemon meringue tarts, discs that taste like licorice, and a chocolate bar with a slightly salted exterior.
Having heard so many positive reviews about Akrame, I was disappointed to find the dishes intriguing but not especially delicious. I love being surprised by unusual combinations of flavors and textures, but the bottom line is that these combinations have to taste good. Given that Akrame changes its menu daily, it is possible that I just went on an off day…let’s give it the benefit of the doubt for now.