For once, it’s not an opening in the east of Paris that made the news during the last weeks. Mathieu Pacaud, chef at famous Michelin Star l’Ambroisie, started serving meals at l’Hexagone, located in snobish 16ème arrondissement. The space is incredibly big, over a thousand square meters designed by famous French architects Gilles and Boissier, but it’s also very flashy and it has no charm whatsoever, except for bankers and yoga moms living around.
In a nutshell: French culinary heritage in a flashy dining room
The menu is very appealing, Pacaud aims to revive outdated dishes and techniques like the vol-au-vent — a small round case made of puff pastry and filled with a delicious meat mixture. But the price tag is hard to swallow as the lunch menu costs €49. My friend went à la carte —which is even more expense– while I choosed the lunch menu.
Potatoes salad, beef chuck and bearnaise sauce. Pacaud shows off his plating techniques — the potatoes are topped by radish flakes, and they’ve been carefully turned. But there’s a blatant lack of generosity, I was expecting more than three small potatoes and a few cubes of beef chuck. My friend is similarly disappointed with the langoustine, saffron royale and saffron nage.
Then I went with the hanger steak which came with some fancy sorts of squash called patisson. The meat is well cooked, but for this hefty price I was expecting more than a hanger steak. The sauce was definitely the best thing of this dish, very thick with a great syrupy consistency. Too bad they served me such a ridiculously small portion of squash. They were simply roasted with no real interesting flavor.
I finished things off with the mango cheesecake. It’s well executed, the texture of the cream was smooth and I liked the freshness of the finely diced mango. But again, when you go with a $49 — much more expensive that Jean-Georges for instance — I was expecting a dessert that’d blow my mind. It was not the case, I’ve had better cheesecakes in NYC’s pastry shops.
Hard to compare with l’Ambroisie
L’Ambroisie is even more expensive than l’Hexagone, but every meal I’ve had there was well worth the price tag. Pacaud cuisine at l’Hexagone lacks the quality and the generosity that you can find at l’Ambroisie. As an evidence of our good faith, look at the generosity of the meat puff pastry that we had at l’Ambroisie, or even better, the texture of the chocolate tart. Mathieu Pacaud should look no further than what his father achieved at l’Ambroisie if he wonders how he could improve his cuisine.
Budget: lunch menu from €49, about €80 à la carte.