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Astrance

4 Rue Beethoven, Paris, 75016, France

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With just 26 diners at its maximum, Astrance is very hard to get a reservation at. It is in a quite modest setting, with tables on two levels. Walls are painted slate grey, chairs are quite cheap yellow leather, and cutlery was steel rather than silver. This is demonstration enough that Michelin will give 3 stars for the food rather than the surroundings.  Service is superb, even playful at times, which could backfire but somehow does not. There is no choice in the menu - you get what the kitchen has made that day. Bread is from Jean-Luc Poujauron and is just slices of simple brown bread, but what a bread! With a perfect tasty crust, lovely texture and balanced seasoning this is as good as you could hope a bread to be (20/20).

We began with a little Parmesan on a spoon, with olive oil, pleasant enough, but this gave little indication of what was to come (17/20). A slice of toasted brioche with verbena and lemon butter was extremely good (19/20) and led rapidly to an asparagus mousse with mint and yogurt cream and coriander foam. What was impressive here was the great purity and depth of the flavours; the asparagus tasted of asparagus, and nothing else (20/20).

Langoustines were superb, cooked with spring vegetables and herbs and a vegetable broth. The shellfish was delicate and very fresh, cooked beautifully (20/20). Green and white asparagus were excellent, served with a confit of lemon and caramelised almonds that was perhaps ill-matched (18/20). A millefeuille of mushrooms was impressive, with layers of simple mushrooms and high quality raw foie gras, the only niggle being a lemon confit that did nothing for the dish composition (19/20).

John Dory was superbly cooked, served with dazzlingly fresh cabbage flavoured with curry oil and very fresh mango and papaya adding an element of acidity (20/20). Morels in yellow wine sauce were excellent in themselves (though they had a little grit) but served with a poached egg and garlic foam that seemed superfluous to me (17/20). I was most impressed with a simple dish of baby peas with tomato and a few nasturtium flowers with a little chorizo, the peas having remarkable flavour and being perfectly cooked (20/20). Lamb was cooked with a black olive, liquorice and coffee puree, served with Japanese radish and aubergine flavoured with miso and topped with gruyere. Though technically excellent, for me this did not form a very harmonious dish (18/20).

A sorbet of lemongrass and chilli was one of the few missteps in the meal, the chilli being too dominant, though the texture was excellent (15/20) but a peach meringue was superb, though why it was served with caramelised peanuts is a mystery only the chef will know (19/20). A grapefruit granita with grapes was technically perfect and had lovely flavour (20/20) while a wild strawberry clafoutis was excellent (19/20). Honey madeleines were superb (20/20) as was a plate of fresh fruit (pineapple, melon, grapes, strawberry, mango, cherries) while an egg nog flavoured with jasmine was also very capable (19/20).

Coffee was superb (20/20). Overall this was inventive and technically assured cooking. There were just a couple of concepts which I did not think worked that well, but this is a chef with a long career ahead of him and his talent is clear.

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  • Amir

    My wife and I dined at L’Astrance in June 2017. We came from abroad to celebrate our silver honeymoon. Things went bad already two days in advance, when I called the place to confirm the reservation, which was made as early as possible - in very early April. It turned out that they put us down for the next day, for which we already had other plans. We had no choice but to accept. I will be brief about the food. It was OK, but for a Michelin-starred restaurant - well below expectations. We have dined in a few 2- and 3-star Michelin Paris restaurants so we can compare. Certain dishes were just dull (e.g., the dessert). What was outright bad was the service. Butter was served on a badly-chipped plate (really, a corner was missing) and we had to insist on having it replaced. At certain points the waiters were rude and/or arrogant. There was an error in our check, to the tune of Euro 120, and so forth. Simply unbelievable. After paying, we asked to speak with the shift manager - a guy named Christophe - and mentioned some of the issues. All he had to say was that next year they might start using email for reservations. Throughout, there was never a single word of apology or even a hint of taking responsibility, let alone any attempt to appease us for the frustration. Totally unacceptable.

  • Alexandre

    My wife and I ate at L'Astrance in December of 2009. Overall, we had a good but not great experience. Relative to the expectations (and cost) of eating at a *** restaurant, good does not cut it I am afraid. The food was certainly competently prepared and overall, I would give our meal a rating of 8/10, perhaps even a 9/10. As such, the Chef is cooking at the *** level. However, the service and ambiance was not up to scratch. Below are some of the issues I had with the service: 1) We made our reservation at 9:00 AM (Paris time) two months to the day prior to our meal. Despite our making the reservation at the earliest time acceptable to L'Astrance, we were given the table on the second floor, stuck in a corner away from all other tables and diners. The second floor had only one other table, and that table was located in another corner. Ambiance is very important at a restaurant that is deemed worthy of *** status and the setup of the second floor is simply and truly not acceptable. 2) My wife, like most women, carried a purse with her that night and when she asked if she could have a stool to rest it on, she was very coldly informed that they did not have stools for purses. Had the response been polite and pleasantly delivered, my wife would not have minded, but even I (a very think-skinned Frenchman) found the attitude unacceptable. 3) Toward the end of the meal, as we looked at the tables on the ground floor, we noticed that waiters were offering each diner a special pre-dessert dish which they took careful time to explain. The two tables in the second floor were never given that dish. When I asked our waiter about it, he claimed that it was just an experimental game that they play with some patrons. That was not entirely true from what I saw. Every diner in the first floor was given that dish and the two tables in the second floor were not. That may have been acceptable had we been sitting with the rest of the diners and had there not been the incident with the purse stool. However, we already felt like second class clientelle at that point, so not sharing that extra dish with us did not sit well. Overall, L'Astrance was a good experience and the chef is obviously talented. But if they truly want to give diners the overall experience that comes with being a *** restaurant, they will have to review the way they treat their diners...particularly those who are seated in the second floor.

  • Chris McKee

    Agree with your comments on the food, which we rated 9/10. What was that lemon curd with the mushroom & foie gras mille feuille? But what struck us on our visit yesterday was the staff's attempts to break the ice and engage us in ironic British humour ("pigeon - from the Trocadero") which we thought was a wonderfully uncharacteristically French approach and which endeared them to us greatly. Overall a heart-warming and sophisticated experience that exceeded our expectations.

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