At the beginning of February, I was invited for lunch at Le Connetable Restaurant at Hotel Auberge de Jeu du Paume to try the menu by their newly hired executive chef Julien Lucas.
I took the 33-minute train from Gare Saint Lazare and arrived at about 11:45 AM. I met my friend Nicole Wilms who’s the sales manager at the hotel and she greeted me warmly. We had a lot of catching up to do because I hadn’t seen Nicole in ages and she told me about the changes at the hotel since my last visit.
I brought a friend with me from Paris and when we were seated in the restaurant, I remember how spacious and luxurious the dining room was. It was so nice to be able to spread out comfortably at the table and not be cramped for space and practically in your neighbor’s lap like the restaurants in Paris. The table was set impeccably with a starched white tablecloth, an attractive charger plate with a metallic crisscross pattern, a rolled white napkin with red piping across the top and a mélange of white flowers and greens.
On the top of the menu was an illustrated map of the region encompassing the hotel and restaurant with the different foods from which chef Julien Lucas sources his ingredients from; endive and mushrooms from Orry-la-Ville, hares, deer, and chestnuts from the forestland surrounding Chantilly, wild seafood from Picardie waters, shellfish and saffron from the Bay of Sommes, and lamb from pré sales.
Already impressed, I scrolled down to read the menu with many appealing choices.
First to appear was four amuse bouches artfully presented. The most intriguing one of among the delicate bites was a lollipop with parsnip black truffle dusted in cocoa.
My appetizer, a gorgeous mosaic of Saint Jaques with layers of root vegetables was light but intensely flavorful. The chef was in a generous mood that day and sent out an additional appetizer of pan-fried foie gras with endive, which was succulent and rich.
The maître d Stephen was quite knowledgeable in describing the various foods arriving at the table. His delivery was warm and sincere, not pretentious at all or trying to show off, and his genuine passion and pride for the food was infectious. When he set down a handsome cutting knife and I admired it, he shared with us about the specialty of the knife, the manufacturer, and how they were produced.
For the plat, my friend had perch with local Portobello mushrooms and hazelnuts. Stephen brought a gray lacquered box to the table and upon opening it, inside was a layer of the most delectable fresh mushrooms. He proceeded to thinly slice the mushrooms on my friend’s plate.
I had the venison and again the Stephen showed his culinary expertise by presenting a whole butternut squash encrusted with salt and then dug out the orange flesh of the squash and delicately mashed it and then shaped it into little torpedoes.
Glancing at the dessert menu, I noticed there was an odd description: gran cru chocolate with Picardie endive. I know there’s been a recent trend in mixing chocolate with savory or vegetable flavors, so I was curious to try this new combination.
When it came out, it appeared to be a whole endive on a bed of chocolate crumbs but upon closer look, it was a sculpted, candied shell painted like an endive. I hesitantly broke the endive with my spoon and inside was an intensely rich, gooey mousse or perhaps ganache flavored with coffee and chocolate.
Towards the end of the meal chef Julien Lucas, the handsome but modest chef, introduced himself. We effused on how much we loved his food, presentation, thoughtfulness, creativity, and imagination.
I received an email from Nicole the following week telling me that Julien had retained the Michelin star it had previously garnered, in the short time he has been at the hotel. Bravo Juline, it’s very well deserved.
Le Table du Connetable at Hotel Auberge du Jeu de Paume
4 Rue du Connétable, 60500 Chantilly
Lunch Friday and Saturday, dinner Tuesday to Saturday
The amazing endive- before and after
I am very excited to announce the launch of my new video series A Bite of Paris, on my You Tube channel, Eye Prefer Paris.
The format of the series is every week I visit either a restaurant, food shop or food market to taste my favorite French foods.
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Come experience Eye Prefer Paris live with Eye Prefer Paris Tours, which are 3-hour walking tours I personally lead. Eye Prefer Paris Tours include many of the places I have written about such as small museums & galleries, restaurants, cafes, food markets, secret addresses, fashion & home boutiques, parks and gardens and much more. In addition to my specialty Marais Tour, I also lead tours of Montmartre, St. Germain, Latin Quarter, in addition to Shopping Tours, Gay Tours, Girlfriend Tours, Food Tours, Flea Market Tours, Paris Highlights Tour