This review is less detailed than usually, since we were there with friends, and we did not bring our notebook. Therefore, we give you the menu and the wine list without the usual detailed description apart from the conclusion. We cannot eat shellfish (see below), but the menu came like this.
Four different types of bread; among them brioche and sourdough buns
Two types of butter; one with cheese, one with thyme
Caviar with crème fraiche and octopus’ disc
Millésime, Guy Michel et Fils, Pierry, Champagne, France 1998
Razor clam with double crème fraiche, lemon oil and Baeril Prestige Caviar
Gewürztraminer, Jean Becker, Zellenberg, France 1986
Langoustine with Nordic seaweed and beurre blanc
Un Jour 1911, André Clouet, Bouzy, France 1997/1998
Norwegian scallop with spring greens and browned butter
Nierstein Pettenthal, Riesling Spätlese, Heyl Zu Herrnsheim, Rheinhessen, Germany 1990
Goose liver parfait with caramelized onion and crisps
Maison Roche De Bellene, Beaune, France, 1996 Premier Cru
Cannelloni with bisque and morel sauce
V.O.R.S. Bodegas Tradición, Jerez, Spain, 30 Year Amontillado Tradición
Rabbit with carrot jus and Parmigiano Reggiano
Clos Saint Urbain Rangen De Thann, Pinot Gris, Domaine zind Humbrecht, Thann, France 2001
Pierre de Segonzac, Pinnau des Charantes, France 1989 Héritage Familial
Sweet coconut and mango pre-dessert
Cocoa and citrus fruits
The Samuel was awarded a Michelin star just four months after opening, and our expectations were high. Our friends had chosen the restaurant, and beforehand they noticed the kitchen about our shellfish allergy. Summing up: Two people could eat shellfish, two could not. The restaurant excels in seafood, and with 850 metres to the sea (as well as weeks to prepare for a common allergy), we thought it would be easy for them to present alternatives.
Apparently not. For all three seafood courses the chef had simply removed the protein, not replaced them. Scallops, langoustine, and razor clam are not difficult to replace. In the nearby sea swim cod and halibut. The result was three almost similar courses with salad and a sauce. Our friends got the full experience – we all paid for the full experience. We felt a bit neglected and downcast due to the lack of consideration.
There were many positive things. Almost everything was prepared and presented flawlessly (apart from the cannelloni; it was a bit grainy, and the morels did not shine through), the flavours were fine (even though the two of us got a bit tired of salad and sauce without fish!) and the atmosphere is friendly.
The sommelier’s knowledge and enthusiasm when she presented the exquisite wines deserve praise and recognition. It is one of the best wine menus we have experienced to date.
The bread selection is definitely worth mentioning, too. The waiter arrived with a trolly with four different breads, which he delivered in small baskets, and there was no cheapness about the bread. The basket was filled several times during the evening.
The Samuel has become renowned for its special cheeses. Jonathan K. Berntsen is a member of The French cheese association, Guilde Internationale des Fromagers, and the cheeses were beautifully displayed at the entrance. When we got to the cheeses, we were led downstairs to a presentation. A minor detail, but: We were huddled together with another table. We know it is practical, but it felt less exclusive and more like class education, when you are put together with another party.
After the presentation, we were led back to the table, and a few minutes later our plates arrived. Considering the excessiveness of cheeses, it was a bit disappointing only getting a teaspoon of each cheese – for some of them, you barely got the taste of it before it had disappeared in your mouth.
So: Keep up the good work with the atmosphere, the bread, the wine, and the composition of the courses. There is room for improvement when it comes to compensating for allergies and amount of cheese.