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Collection Culinaire: Tasting November

As I may have mentioned once or twice, the Hotel Concorde celebrated its seventh birthday last week. In honour of this special anniversary, Head Chef at the Brasserie Le Faubourg Steffen Sinzinger and team have put together an extra special Collection Culinaire for November: a selection of the best dishes from 2012′s Collection Culinaire menus, based on the feedback from guests. It certainly can’t have been easy picking favourites, but the result, which I was lucky enough to sample this week, really is exceptional. Though the special anniversary Collection Culinaire will be available throughout November, you only have until November 7th to take advantage of the special birthday offer: seven courses for the price of the usual five-course tasting menu. Click here to reserve a table sharpish!

Collection Culinaire November: amuse-bouche

Amuse-bouche: veal jelly with red cabbage and apple

We approach the Brasserie Le Faubourg through the lobby – it’s David’s first time inside the Concorde, and I’m showing off. The lobby, an elegant and welcoming space frequented by guests, professionals and locals alike, is in its element tonight; it’s Saturday night, the cocktails are flowing and the atmosphere is lively and relaxed.”It’s by Dietrich Klinge,” I say, as David asks about the roughly carved wooden sculpture in the centre of the room, “It’s great isn’t it – abstract, yet somehow incredibly human. Look, that one’s by him too,” I say, as we reach the bust at the entrance to the Brasserie.

The smiling waitress takes our coats and we are shown to our seats at the last free table in the house. Our champagne arrives, and minutes later, before we have finished reading about the seven courses which await us, the amuse-bouche, or Grüße aus der Küche (“Greetings from the kitchen”) as they say in Germany, have arrived: veal jelly with red cabbage and apple.

November Collection Culinaire at the Brasserie Le Faubourg

Raw marinated tuna, cream of veal, lobster gelee and rocket salad

The waitress brings over the wine for the first course, a 2010 gérard bertrand chardonnay. The fresh taste is a perfect match for the raw marinated tuna with cream of veal, lobster gelee and rocket salad, which comes in little dollops, beautifully arranged on the plate. The cracked black rice and delicate croutons sprinkled over the top give the whole dish texture, not to mention a satisfying crunch!

November Collection Culinaire at the Brasserie Le Faubourg

Pork knuckle, sauerkraut foam, pea, potato and roasted onion

The next course arrives: a perfect little pork knuckle, pea, potato and roasted onion parcel. I watch as the sauerkraut foam is poured elegantly over the dish, the smell alone is enough to drive my tastebuds wild. The wine, a 2011 villa huesgen riesling, is my favourite wine of the night – a fine bouquet, with subtle, fruity notes.

“This place really reminds me of the Savoy,” David says, “it was one of my favourite restaurants in London. The food is excellent, really excellent, but sometimes with great cuisine, the atmosphere is so rarefied you can barely enjoy it. This place still manages to be friendly and relaxed.”

November Collection Culinaire at the Brasserie Le Faubourg

Sole sandwich, scallop, fennel vegetables and saffron foam

The next course, a sole sandwich with scallop, fennel vegetables and saffron foam and a 2011 domaine les rocailles altesse is one of the two “birthday courses” which is only part of the collection until November 7th, so if you’re reading after this date, then skip this bit to avoid acute food envy! The baked tomatoes and cress garnish really brought out the flavours of the fish and seafood.

November Collection Culinaire at the Brasserie Le Faubourg

Two types of young venison with Brussels sprouts, carrots and shallot

By the time the pièce de résistance arrives, accompanied by a 2009 château de ribebon girondo, I am certain that this really is the best Collection Culinaire I have ever tasted. The two types of venison are tender and full of flavour, the carrots and shallots perfectly cooked and the Brussels sprouts, almost unrecognisable in the form of a bright green paste is like eating a smooth, creamy cousin of the Brussel sprout.
November Collection Culinaire at the Brasserie Le Faubourg

"Hennart" cheese selection with grape-mustard sorbet, orange-basil sauce and grape confiture

By now I have become rather good at picking my cheeses from the well-stocked cheese trolley – the list of cheeses I am yet to try growing smaller every time. As always, our selection return from the kitchen minutes later decorated with some delicious home-made accompaniments and a basket of freshly-baked bread. This time we were treated to grape-mustard sorbet, orange-basil sauce and grape confiture.
November Collection Culinaire at the Brasserie Le Faubourg

Braised quince, hazelnut sablé and tonka bean ice cream

“Just the dessert now,” David says, somewhat mournfully. “Desserts,” I correct him. He checks the menu and his face lights up; David has the sweetest tooth of anyone I know. The first dessert, braised quince crowned with a hazelnut sablé, tonka bean ice cream and a sliver of dark chocolate bearing the Hotel Concorde’s name and logo, is served with a 2009 domaine sarda malet muscat. It comes decorated with cress and some beautiful little heart-shaped red things, which the waitress tells me are cherry blossom leaves. David has finished his already, and I have the impression he would happily start on my plate too. “The next course is going to blow your mind,” he says, “the table behind you finished theirs in seconds.” Again, dear reader, if you happen to be reading this article after the 7th of November I advise you not to scroll any further.
November Collection Culinaire at the Brasserie Le Faubourg

Chocolate "white and black" with mint ice cream and caramel crunch

Well, I warned you. This course was heaven for chocolate lovers; crumbly dark and white chocolate creations with mint and ice cream and caramel crunch. I can honestly say this was one of the best meals I have ever tasted; hats off to Steffen Sinzinger and team!

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