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Collection Culinaire | Tastes of the New Year

While the glittering Brasserie Le Faubourg offers a fine-dining experience par excellence, the restaurant’s polished, unhurried atmosphere belies its fast-paced command center: the kitchen. Overseen by Chef de Cuisine Steffen Sinzinger (formerly Sous Chef at Berlin’s Michelin-starred First Floor), the brasserie’s kitchen is a study in technical precision, creative innovation and palate-pleasing outcomes. Every month, Chef Sinzinger debuts a new Collection Culinaire: a five-course tasting menu with corresponding wine pairings. For diners, the meal is an impressive gastronomic survey of avant-garde cooking methods, with a nod to traditional French cuisine prepared primarily with regional, seasonal ingredients.

Cooks hard at work on the Zwischengang.

Such a splendid, write-home-to-Mom-about-it meal is the result of Chef Sinzinger’s culinary discipline and daring — not to mention leading his talented team to manifest the fullest expression of his gustatory vision. An important step in this process is the staff tasting. Conducted a few weeks before the public debut of the latest Collection Culinaire, this is an extraordinarily exciting event:  Servers, management and everybody in between (including a representative from Hôtel Concorde’s blogging team!) gathers in the kitchen to sup (and sip) one mouth-watering course (and cup) at a time.

Your faithful Hôtel Concorde blogger, also hard at work.

This tasting serves several functions, including educating staff about the forthcoming menu, so that they can knowledgeably and competently describe the Collection Culinaire to Brasserie Le Faubourg guests; convening staff — all professional foodies — so that they might offer final suggestions and revisions to fine-tune the menu before it goes public; and bringing staff together to enjoy one another’s company. Fine bottles of reds and whites and bubblies are uncorked, forks and spoons are bandied about to sample the kitchen’s delicacies, and the atmosphere overall is both focused and festive.

The presentation begins with the hors d’œuvre, a fatty goose liver terrine atop a decadent macadamia-based bread, complemented by toasted barley and silky persimmon fruit, and rounded-out with creamy goat cheese and refreshing sorbet. The 2011 Le Celtique Pinot Gris offered a brilliant flourish for the taste buds.

The intermediate course brought further joys. With plating as beautiful as the finest modern-art piece, Chef Sinzinger dazzled with a smoky squid paired with scallops au gratin, grounded by earthy beets and wilted spinach greens all drizzled with an inspired cumin sauce — and served in partnership with the 2011 Tesch Riesling.

A proper pièce de résistance, our senses were delighted by the main course, in which savory veal and pied-de-moutons mushrooms were nestled alongside hearty praline potato, as well as finely roasted celery and delicate pointed cabbage. For your glass? A surprising 2010 Domaine La Croix Chaptal multi-grape blend.

The cheese plate brought with it a welcome note of citrus, as powder-soft lemon zest adorned the bright slice of Hennart, with gorgeous gashes of color from watercress and yogurt sauces, as well as the rich flavors of wild figs. Also joined with the 2009 Chateau Valcombe Syrah-Grenache-Carignan grape combination.

With Chef Sinzinger, new pleasures — no matter how sated you feel — tend always to be just ’round the bend. For dessert, it turns out, was truly sublime. A lively lemon-poppyseed cake with glaze, lemon curd and fresh pomelo fruit found a perfect bedfellow with a sour cream-based frozen confection.

Reservations — for either a three-course or five-course meal — can be made online, by clicking here. Guten appetit!

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