Friday, 7 February 2014

La Fourchette - Alcazar Top Chef Restaurant

Hands down, my favourite restaurant deal website in Paris is La Fourchette, or "The Fork" in English (the French version sounds much better, hands down as well).

I love Trip Advisor and all, and use it too, but in a different way. The limitation with Trip Advisor is that I feel it presents a slightly skewed perspective. The majority of people who use Trip Advisor are visitors, which means that sometimes their search will start and end there. They will then write a review and give a rating, which bumps the restaurant up, giving it more exposure, but within the same pool of restaurants. What I normally use Trip Advisor for is to cross check after I've found a restaurant, for reviews written in English and for tips of what to look out for. Visitors are after all invaluable for warning other diners what to look out for and providing details of what dish to try/avoid. 

I prefer to use La Fourchette, firstly because there is access to special promotions, but secondly because the reviews are made by a mixture of visitors, expats, Parisiens and Frenchies themselves. It's a great website for booking because everything is done online through the website or using the app. There's no need to call (and not get through, leave a message in broken French then not get a reply), there's no need to confirm (they send you an email and a text message as a confirmation), there's no booking fee and, there's no need to carry around a voucher/card/print out!

It is the equivalent of my London favourite Top Table :)

Often you'll find great deals like 50% off food or 50% off food and drinks. There are reviews from previous diners and you can filter by position, promotion, location, cuisine, theme and special lists the website creates. 

My recent find on La Fourchette was the restaurant Alcazar currently showcasing a TOP CHEF menu! Top Chef was and is John's favourite TV show, think fancy French chefs competing against each other with even fancier culinary challenges. Perfect to take him to an early birthday lunch!

Alcazar is a Sir Terence Conran designed restaurant. It feels more London than Paris but it was a nice change to have a bright, modern, open dining environment.

What came out first was delicious itself, hot crusty French baguettes, two types of sea salt, coarsely cracked pepper and butter to die for. I'm not a butter person at all, but this was a special type of butter, complete with visible crystals of coarse sea salt smoothly incorporated in.

A sign of a good baguette are the varying sizes of the holes, that "holey" texture that gives it a bounce - perfectly demonstrated here:

We went for the 37€ menu which included starter, main and dessert. Not bad at all for the Top Chef Menu.

So for starters, John chose the artichoke velouté with a soy-marinated egg yolk, mushrooms and crumbled Speculoos (a Belgian cinnamon type biscuit). It was divine, great texture on the palate and a subtle artichoke flavour. The egg yolk I wasn't too big a fan of though.

I opted for the giant prawn starter with 'Autumn vegetables' and a blood orange bisque. It was amazing. Succulent, moist prawns complemented the smooth texture of the bisque and crisp texture of the raw accompanying garnish/vegetables. I could have had a larger version of this as a main!

Now, the mains were alright. They were a decent serving size and cooked to perfection. However as I don't eat a lot of meat in general and have my days where I try to be more vegan, it was a bit too much for me. John on the other hand, was able to comfortably finish his main and enjoy trying mine too! (Mine was better than his I felt ;)

John had braised veal, citron beldi (some type of traditional Moroccan lemon), horseradish with a type of golden turnip.

I had a duck magret, a Jerusalem artichoke mash with veal jus with capers and little onions.

I swear, each time I finish a 'menu', I always say that I'm better off ordering two starters and a dessert. Or maybe, two starters and two desserts..

John had the lemon and praline mille-feuille with a tangy lemon sorbet.

Et pour moi! I had chocolate ganache with a delicate almond biscuit crumble and BASIL sorbet. It was delicious, the richness of the chocolate ganache was cleverly balanced by the palate cleansing and refreshing basil sorbet.

Sorry, I couldn't help taking another close up.

All up, I loved the starters and desserts. The main was a bit heavy for me but nonetheless still a really high quality "classic French" dish, rich in flavours, cut-with-a-butter-knife-like texture and a generous serving size. 

The wines were very reasonably priced too, between 4-7€ a glass which went well with the 37€ 3 course menu and most importantly, the Top Chef novelty factor!


  1. La Fourchette was the website my colleagues were recommending themselves... then I realized the reviews are in French and resorted to close your eyes and pick one! lol... good tip re Trip Advisor cross ref!

    1. Yes, don't you love that site? Especially when you find something recommended somewhere else but with a discount if you book through them! But you're right the reviews are in French, at least the ratings are in universal stars haha ;)