Jean-Francoise Piege left les Ambassadeurs in August 2009, so the notes below are of largely historical interest.
Les Ambassadeurs is a bit of an aberrration in the current Michelin scoring system. I have been a couple of times now and had almost faultless 3 star cookig, yet it only gets 2 stars. I have no idea why. On my last visit I had an amuse-bouche of crayfish broth with perfect cod brandade (20/20), as well as a foie gras roll with garlic butter. A dish of crayfih with both hot and cold grapefruit was very fine (19/20). Even better was perfect venison fillet with sauce diable and assorted root vegetbles (20/20). Cheese is from Bernard Antony, and so is just about perfect (20/20). A pastry base with apple compote and green apple sorbet was also stunning (20/20). Even the coffee was superb. Service was faultless.
Some of this chef's dishes can be fancy to the point of excess in terms of the presentation and the amount of effort he is trying to go to, but this is the only fault that I can think of. His technical execution is magnificent. Here are notes from a previous meal.
The dining room is as imposing as any you will see- thirty foot ceilings, marble walls and floor, fine decorations. The waiters wear tail coats and the wine list comes in a huge ledger. Breads, just white and brown rolls, are excellent. We started with a very delicate amuse guele of yellow pepper soup containing a single quail’s egg (19/20). We both began with roasted langoustines served on a bed of diced tomatoes, garnished with a deep fried basil leaf. The langoustines were stunningly tender, the tomato very fresh and having deep flavour, hard to improve upon (20/20). My main course was an excellent slab of John Dory, resting on a bed of couscous and served with an intense shellfish sauce; on the side were baby carrots, turnips, tiny turned potatoes and a few morels, the vegetables all very fresh and delicately cooked (18/20). Stella’s main course was even better – perfect sea bass topped with a delicious bread crust, served with a thick chicken stock, capers and a clever touch: a little finely sliced grapefruit to give balancing acidity to the stock (20/20).
The cheese board was superb, with the usual classics: Brie, Camembert, Reblochon, St Nectaire, Comte, Faurme d’Ambert and several goats cheeses, all in excellent condition (19/20). For dessert a delicate almond brioche was served with seasonal fruits (raspberries and greengages) and fresh almonds. I had two thin pieces of rich chocolate tart with superb texture, served with as good a chocolate ice cream as I have ever eaten (20/20).
We washed down the desserts with some stunning Kracher Trockenbeerenauslese. Excellent coffee was accompanied by almond tuiles, a raspberry Madeleine, a mini apple tart, a choux bun with sugar and chopped almond crust and a chocolate cream on a biscuit base (19/20 for the petit fours). Service was impeccable throughout, and it is hard to understand why this got just two Michelin stars in 2000 – I have had worse meals at several three star places. Note that another Michelin star was lost in 2003 but there is a new chef, Piege, who started in 2004 and was previously head chef at Alain Ducasse in Paris.
Under the new chef the food is magnificent. An amuse-bouche of salt cod nrandade was the best I have had, a little soup of crayfish having great intensity, while a roll of foie gras was delicate. My starter of hot and cole crayfish was technically excellent and inventive, the hot crayfish being served with little slivers of grapefruit, the cold crayfish wrapped in Granny Smith apple slices. This sounds odd, but the acidity of the fruit worked well with the subtle richness of the crayfish. My main course of fillet of venison was magnificent, served with rot vegetables and a dark sauce diable. Cheese is from Bernard Antony and in perfect condition, while my dessert was a layer of perfect pastry on top of which was delicate apple compote and topped with little scoops of green apple sorbet. Even the coffee was perfect.