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Cirque Du Soleil of Dining Experiences -- Pierre Gagnaire, Paris

Extreme creations with taste and texture, food combinations in amazing presentations, incredible planning and execution of food service – what show did we attend? A food show by Chef Pierre Gagnaire at his flagship restaurant in Paris. Chef Pierre owns nine restaurants throughout the most famous cities in the world:

He has been noted as a pioneer of molecular gastronomy and on the forefront of the fusion movement. S. Pellegrino rates his flagship as number 13 on the World's 50 Best Restaurants.The Keeper Team has enjoyed their fair share of the top 50, including

So, to see that Gagnaire’s flagship restaurant drop six spots this year is perplexing to our team.

Enough background information – let the Pierre Gagnaire spectacle begin! We are presented the menu and it looks so simple and elegant, imagining that the meal will be the same, very classic French.

As we open to see what is in store for our Chef’s Tasting Menu, we are swept into another world, realizing that we are about to embark on an untouchable food adventure.

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Pierre Gagnaire Menu

Could this be possible? And before even our first course, we enjoy a visit from Chef Pierre, who has come out of the kitchen to make sure his guests are enjoying the show! (Sorry for the blur…We get a little shaky at Celebrity sightings!)

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Chef Pierre Gagnaire

The table setting even have surprises. We expected glorious French butter, but what would this whimsical lid uncover?

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Butter

We ask our server and learn that our second butter option is Saffron Butter.

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Saffron Butter

Three breads to go with the butters come next. The Seaweed bread is so unique and glorious.

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Assorted Breads, Cereal, Milk & Seaweed

Our attentive waitstaff present us with the Amuse Bouche. Imagine starting with not one, but 8 different amuse bouche to enjoy. Here they are!

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Watermelon with Strawberry Reduction

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Cracker with Purple Potatoes Puree & Hazelnut Topped Surprise

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Sticks in Thyme Infused Olive Oil and Tuna Puree/Blackberry Savory Macaroons

Two Savory Canapes

We could feel our taste buds applauding and beginning to move forward in their seats in anticipation of what was ahead. As the servers present the first course, they spend the time to explain the many elements that are combined to create this dish. Chef makes the cod fish seem like royalty. He selects the “heart” of the cod and prepares it ever so lightly to show off the beauty of his selection. He then uses his mastery with other elements of rhubarb, pomegranate, grapefruit, nettlefish, cucumber…. The dish shows us the Chef’s intellectual approach to cooking, compared with his ability to write prose with his food by blending multiple unexpected ingredients in one dish. We are often suspect of a chef using too many ingredients in one dish. But, in this case, Gagnaire shows his incredible amount of culinary flexibility.

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Cuddlefish, Cockle & Shellfish Bed Marinated in a Rhubarb Water with Pomegranates; Grapefruit Liebig, Green Beans & Crunchy Cucumber from the Garden, Filet (Heart) of Cod with Nettlefish Compote

We thought the previous dish was tasty and then the server presents a dish called Velvety Turner. We didn’t care why or how it got its name, as our taste buds just about jump out of their seats to try this dish. Wow, hats off to the Chef. Chanterelle mushroom and cool almond sauce gently glide like a ballerina all the way down our palette, followed by a prima donna performance in the mint and sugar snap pea ice cream.

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Velvety Turner Zucchini Flower Blossom Stuffed with Apricot, Chanterelles in a Mushroom and Cool Almond Sauce; Agastache (Mint and Sugar Snap Pea) Ice Cream

The next course includes three separate dishes that can each easily stand on their own, but were so interesting as a trio.

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Garden Pea Soup, Fava Bean and Parma (Fevettes & Culatello); Parmesan Quenelle, Cramone Mustard

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Crimson Taggiasche Olive & Caper la Nicchia Ravioli; Tomato Marmalade

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Foie Gras over Melon Tuile, Eggplant & Soft Cabbage

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All Three Together as One Course

Next is lobster, baby langoustine in an airy, perfectly textured pouch, with a lobster mousse martini on the side – now we are really dancing!

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Blue Lobster Aiguillettes with Basil Cuttlefish Veil, Baby Langoustine with Pepper & Sauteed Little Squid

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Lobster Mousse Topped with Seabeans Topped with Lobster Terrine (top view)

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Lobster Mousse Topped with Seabeans Topped with Lobster Terrine

How much more can our taste buds handle? Of course, the chef tempts us with a white summer truffle dish.

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Mascarpone Souffle Pancake; Kabu Turnip, Young Leeks and Spinach Fondue; White Summer Truffles Slices & a Salt Crunch

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Mascarpone Souffle Pancake; Kabu Turnip, Young Leeks and Spinach Fondue; White Summer Truffles Slices & a Salt Crunch

Finally, before the cheese and dessert courses, we are served a perfectly prepared oriental spiced lamb dish complemented with a silver box of red onion petals to garnish as we please.

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Red Onion Petal with Gingerbread

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Mousseron Mushrooms, Rice and Stomach Organ with Coriander

Now, it’s time for the cheese. Chef Pierre, in his creative, unconventional style, did not roll a cheese cart to our table. Instead, he offers three, interestingly prepared cheeses.

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Ewe Cheese Corse with Breadcrumbs of Chestnut, Strawberry Tree’s Honey & Dry Tomatoes with Sage

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Ring Vic-bilh Cheese, Hibiscus Jelly with Gooseberry

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Bleu des Causses Cheese, Eglantine (rose flower) Marmalade; Date Leaf Water with Beer

The server then announces that our 12 desserts are on their way. We are certain that the server has misspoken, or our culinary inebriation has fogged our hearing…did he say 12?? Sure enough, 12 desserts soon arrive – Thank goodness some of them are bite-sized.

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Whipped Cream on Peach Puree with Rhubarb Strips & Tasty Nibbles

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Coffee Ice Cream with Cherries

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Strawberries Meringue & Strawberry Mousse with Fresh Strawberries

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Baby Strawberries with Tuille & Crème Fraiche

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Chocolate with Hazelnuts & Chocolate Sauce

This show gets a standing ovation from us, and we all agree that an encore would be welcomed. Chef Pierre Gagnaire prepared a most intricate, mind boggling, detailed, complexly creative, elevated, extraordinary meal for our group. Just like a Cirque de Soleil performance, Chef kept us excited to see what would come next – when we thought we had seen it all, we were surprised with something even more grand. Just saying we were impressed doesn’t do Chef Pierre Gagnaire justice. We were in awe of this Chef’s culinary approach.

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