Maison Troisgros Guest Chef Promotion at The Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok.

As the grandson, great nephew and son of celebrated chefs and restaurateurs Pierre, Jean and Michel  Troisgros; the odds were always likely that César Trosigros would follow in their footsteps to the kitchens of their family restaurant, Maison Troisgros http://troisgros.com/ which has held a prestigious 3 Michelin Stars since 1968. For one week only, guests are able to enjoy this exceptional 3 star experience at the Mandarins Orientals “Lord Jims” restaurant which is what I decided to do, booking myself in on opening night.

Lord Jims’ usually functions as a high end seafood restaurant, offering both buffet and a la carte options and I loved all the little sea inspired decorations and tables settings, from the beautiful porcelain plates decorated with sea urchins, to the gold conch style vases and mother of pearl salt and pepper salvers – you can see how beautiful they are in my pictures below. For the Maison Troisgros promotion, both a 5 course and a 7 course menu are available but as I do not generally eat foie gras it was a thankfully easy decision for me to take the 5 course menu with matching wines and as the encroaching thunderstorm burst into life over the Chao Praya I was treated to a truly unforgettable meal.

I usually avoid try to avoid eating bread in restaurants as it fills me up unnecessarily and its easy calories to avoid (unlike most) but when I saw that the bread was served with a choice of butter and a curried whipped butter, I was intrigued and had to try a small roll with the curried butter to start. The whipped butter was absolutely delicious, slightly citrusy and unmistakably curried – quite an unexpected combination but it really worked! Then came the canapés – or “Entre Vos Doigts” as they call them; a delicious pastry tart with caviar, a chestnut and truffle croquette – disguised as a small black truffle with a creamy chestnut purée centre, and a cherry tomato coated in caramelized sugar and sesame presented on chipped ice.

My first course used one of their signature pairings – that of pineapple and seafood – something I had read about previously “Couteaux en Gelée d’Ananas”  or Razor Clams with Pineapple and Yuzu. A very light pineapple jelly was set into the centre hollow of the plate and topped with little chunks of pineapple brushed with a chilli pepper infused oil, gently cooked razor clams and a little yuzu zest to cut through the sweetness of the pineapple. Certainly an unusual flavour combination, but one that really worked and was a great start to the meal. Both the canapés and the first course were served with one of my favourite white Italian varietals – a slightly floral 2013 Lugana from Ca dei Frati with wonderful notes of apricot and honey.

Next came “Turbot Poché a l’Eau de Tomate” or Poached Turbot with Tomato Consommé. The turbot was succulent and sweet which paired nicely with the slight acidity from the tomato consommé that had taken on almost caramel tones during the cooking process. The little bursts of freshness  from the watermelon and feves were a beautiful contrast to consommé and the overall feeling of the dish was wonderfully light and fresh. This was served with a crisp, citrusy 2012 Sancerre from Domaine Vacheron and was a very successful pairing.

The turbot was followed by “Langoustines Voyage a Parati” or Langoustine, Journey to Parati which consisted of one large langoustine, cooked perfectly so as to still be translucent on the inside which was served with batons of granny smith apple, fresh mint leaves and fried garlic and onion. The langoustine was really beautifully done and the contrast between the garlic and onion and the tart apple worked really well. If I was being critical I would have to say I would have liked a little more of the apple or something else to extend the tartness but overall it was excellent. Unusually, they chose to pair this with a 2012 Le Volte, Tenuta dell’ Ornellaia, a medium bodied Italian red wine made from a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese which whilst a very pleasant wine was probably my least favourite pairing of the night.

There was a welcome gap before my main course was served, probably the one dish I would never normally choose to order myself “Pigeonneau a la cacahuete et raciness” Bresse Pigeon with Peanuts and Roots. This was the perfect example of why I try not to ask for menu changes when presented with something a little different as the pigeon was absolutely exceptional and one of the highlights of the dinner! The pigeon breast was pink but not too bloody, meaning it was beautifully tender and succulent. It had been crusted with crushed roasted peanuts which gave a great contrast to the gaminess of the pigeon but it was the little raviolis made from thinly sliced root vegetables and filled with different vegetable purees that really worked perfectly with the dish – I gather this sort of dish is quite a signature for Maison Troisgros and I absolutely loved the simplicity and the impact it had on the overall dish. The pigeon was beautifully paired with another Italian red wine a 2011 Le Serra Nuove, Tenuta dell’ Ornellaia, almost a Bordeaux blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc (although the % are not the same as Bordeaux) with lovely spiced, soft red berry flavours and strong enough tannin’s to work in harmony with the pigeon – I may have had more than one glass of this 😉

Dessert was “Tarte au Cassis et Jasmin” a Blackcurrant and Jasmine Tart which was a great combination of classic Troisgros ingredients and the Asian inspiration that Chef Cesar had said he wanted to infuse the menu for Bangkok with. The combination of the tartness of the cassis and the floral jasmine was beautiful and the lemon and wasabi ice-cream they served it added another fascinating flavour profile. I love a good “sticky” from time to time and the 2010 Riesling Encore Noble from Pegasus Bay In New Zealand was beautifully balanced between honeyed tropical fruits and a good minerality; a great wine to finish what had been an exceptional meal with.

Of course the meal ended with Petit Fours; a marshmallow so soft it practically dissolved on my tongue, along with a little apricot and caramelized nut tart and an apricot and ginger macaroon and I was lucky enough to get to chat with Chef Cesar a little bit which rounded off a fantastic evening just perfectly. Dinners like this are a real treat for me and I feel fortunate to have been able to experience the 3 Michelin star cooking of such a talented chef all the way over here in Bangkok, especially in the glorious, flawless surroundings of the Mandarin Oriental.

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