Un Repas Extraordinaire

If your travel plans take you to Paris, it is imperative that you schedule a meal at Macraw, and that upon arrival you order the ‘menu decoverture’ (’discovery menu’ en anglais) and submit yourself to chef Jeremie Rosenbois’ culinary vision.  I’ve had a few good meals while I have been in Paris—but most of them have consisted of dishes that I could have (or did!) make for myself.  My meal at Macraw does not fit into this category; M. Rosenbois has aptly named his tasting menu. The flavors and concepts I discovered at Macraw were eye opening and outstanding.

It is worth note that the courses of this menu are not spelled out and that your culinary journey at Macraw may not (likely won’t) follow the same path that mine did.  In fact, Aurora and I had completely separate meals laid before us—which means that during our five course repast we actually had the opportunity to taste ten separate creations.  This in itself was a revolutionary concept for me.  All of the tasting menus with which I am familiar in the states spell out ahead of time what each course will be and proceed in lockstep down a predetermined course.  In the intimate setting of Macraw, though, I got the feeling that our courses were being determined as we went; that the chef was perhaps reading our reactions to determine what he would place before us next.

Our first course was a salad.  For Aurora, a bed of shaved asparagus imbued with a sesame oil dressing that lent the vegetable a sense of having been roasted despite the fact it was indeed raw.  For me, a mound of shaved fennel dressed with a fabulous cross between the heat and the sweet: some sort of an orange and chili combination.  These light dishes étaient un bon introduction à nos diner; they absolutely set the bar high and established the stage for what was to come.

Next was a fish course.  I received a sashimi of salmon: thin slices shingled across the plate, dressed with a balsamic reduction and a flavorful, cream-based sauce whose name I did not catch despite having asked our waiter to repeat it for me when he came to collect our plates.  I did catch, though, his description of its seasoning: un mélange d’épices Indian (a melange of Indian spices).  After having completed the fish, I used a slice of bread to clean the plate so that none of the flavor would go to waste.

Aurora’s fish course was called, I believe, “amitié tortue.”  If I’m correct, the name would be of a whimsical turtle, which makes sense with the presentation.  If I am correct as well n my interpretation of how it was made, mashed avocado had been packed into a teardrop mold, followed by a bed of special crab meat.  The mold was then inverted onto her plate and removed—providing her whimsical turtle with an avocado shell and a body of crab.  This flavor combination is nothing revolutionary, but its execution was flawless and the flavors were fantastic.  Each successive bite seemed better than the one that preceded it.

Though I have been referring to the meal as a five course excursion, it was described to us as a six course meal.  I believe that one of the courses was perhaps a wine.  Our waiter asked us if we enjoy white wine.  When we said yes, he returned with two glasses of a Côte du Gascogne, the flavor of which he described to us as ‘avait beaucoup des fruits.’ (having a lot of fruit).  Though hardly a sommelier, I am almost certain the grape used was a sauvignon blanc, as the fruit flavors were the heady grapefruit flavors that are the hallmark of one of Aurora’s and my favorite whites.

At this point, the chef had my attention and I remarked to Aurora, “I’m ready to eat anything that M. Rosenbois puts in front of me.”  I meant it, too—especially as the next course to be delivered to me was a sashimi of beef: thinly sliced raw beef dressed with olive oil, citrus, and a mixture of spices including ginger and curry.  This was a dish I had noticed on the menu and had previously determined that I was not likely to order.  To have been served it, though, was an absolute delight.

Aurora was presented with a sashimi of mackerel seasoned with fresh herbs.  She was thrilled to have received her plate; mackerel is one of her favorite fishes and she declared it to be outstanding.  The bite that she consented to share with me was evidence of an extremely fresh fish prepared with simple elegance.

“Sel d’Agneau,” I believe, was the name assigned the next dish presented to Aurora; and “Sel de Boeuf” for me.  Salt of the lamb and salt of the beef, meaning the best parts of the animals.  In each case, slices of the tenderloin had been quickly seared so that each piece benefitted from the maillard reaction with a slightly crusty and caramelized exterior yet on the inside was perfectly cooked to a medium doneness.  Aurora’s lamb was sprinkled with sesame seeds and accompanied by a rice seasoned with sesame oil and fresh cilantro (perhaps this dish was course number six?).  My beef was sprinkled with finely sliced red and green bell peppers and accompanied by potatoes seasoned with salt and fresh rosemary.  All four items placed before us were, as we had come to expect by this course in our meal, outstanding.  The combination of sesame and cilantro was in particular an element that worked quite well, and a combination I would not have thought of myself.

All that remained for us was dessert.  M. Rosenbois once again caused me to reconsider my assumptions when he presented me with a piña colada custard.  I have sworn up and down that a piña colada is something that I can not, will not, do not enjoy.  But this custard, composed of mascarpone cheese, coconut milk, sugar, eggs, and rum & topped with rum-soaked fresh fruit was marvelous.

Also marvelous was the chocolate cake placed before Aurora.  Freshly baked for her, it released a cloud of steam as she sliced into it.  Its dense crumb and rich chocolate flavor were delightful.

We finished our meal with un café crème, to ease ourselves back int the idea of a life spent not sitting at a table in this intimate and truly special restaurant.  Before leaving, I thanked M. Rosenbois, saying, “si ce n’était pas le mieux repas sue j’ai mangé, c’est certainement un des haut cinq.” (If this wasn’t the best meal I have ever eaten, it was certainly in the top five).  I also made a reservation for my parents to eat there on Saturday, for it would be a shame for them to leave Paris without having dined here.

It was absolute happenstance that Aurora and I happened to stumble upon this establishment; but it and its chef, who has worked under Alain Ducaisse and Joël Robichon and as personal chef to one of the princes of Saudi Arabia deserve recognition of their own.  Do yourself a favor and schedule a trip to Paris simply for the delight of discovering le menu decouverture at Macraw.

Rating: 5 Oranges (a new classification, as the previous limit of 4 oranges did not suffice)

Macraw (website)
31 Boulevard de Montparnasse
75015 Paris, France
Télephone : 01 45 44 55 55

Leave a Reply