Amuse bouche: ahi tuna, champagne scallion, and Siberian sturgeon caviar (photos by Ariel Gonzalez)
Last Thursday, Hotel St. Germain hosted a few Dallas media members for an intimate preview of its new spring menu. Led by the famous chef Chad Martin, the hotel’s restaurant is equally celebrated and luxurious as the hotel itself. As we entered the dining room, it became quite clear why it was named one of top 20 dining rooms in America. Complete with antique Limoges china, antique silverware, Frette table linens, bouquets of pink Sterling Roses and a grand chandelier, the room could not feel more quaint.
Marketing Director Bill Armstrong says he and St. Germain owner Claire Heyman “share a passion for antiques,” and that they “spent days shopping in flea markets in Paris” to achieve the hotel’s French, pre-revolution look. The décor displays Heyman’s love for soft, lavender hues, and matches the restaurant’s cuisine that Armstrong describes as “French with a creole twist.”
The aroma of freshly baked bread filled the room as I gazed out at the view of the ivy garden terrace. This scent came from the warm, doughy, baked-from-scratch rolls served aside a generous dollop of whipped butter – which commenced one of the most lavish meals I’ve ever experienced.
The white-gloved wait staff presented the first course – amuse bouche – which was a little glass tower of ahi tuna, champagne scallion granite and Siberian sturgeon caviar.
Jerusalem artichoke crème fraiche gremolata
Next was the soup, a rich, creamy blend of Jerusalem artichokes topped with a crème fraiche swirl and gremolata (a seasoned blend of parsley, pomegranate seeds and a zest of lime).
Candles flickered and soft classical music echoed faintly. Aside from the room’s romantic atmosphere, the restaurant’s intimate setting also assures top-notch service throughout all eight courses.
Yes, this was an eight course meal, and though that’s seven more than I usually indulge, I commend the restaurant’s efforts to create appropriately sized portions. Armstrong mentioned his appreciation for the kitchen’s ability to create dishes that leave guests feeling satisfied, “but not overwhelmingly full.”
Now that’s not to say I finished every bite and wasn’t still quite full by the end, but I’m also a 5’3 female dining in the state that prides itself on ‘everything bigger.’
Two courses in, and it was time for the appetizer: arugula bits sprinkled over kumquat preserves and sauterne jelly, atop seared foie gras, spread across a toasted brioche. The crispy brioche gave the smooth texture of this dish a nice finishing yet unexpected touch.
Sea scallop, Potato Gnocchi, Wilted Arugula with Pancetta
The seafood course consisted of scallops, wilted arugula with pancetta (which I learned is Italian bacon), potato gnocchi, white Oregon truffle, parmesiano reggiano “snow.” The scallops were tender, the gnocchi was exquisite, and the pancetta was cooked to crisp perfection.
With entrée options that included prime rib eye and lamb loin medallions, I chose Maine lobster tail on house-made pasta. Waiters removed polished silver covers to reveal yet another one of Chad’s culinary works of art, complete with olive oil-poached fennel and sauce Américaine, a mixture of beef and lobster reduction. The lobster was amazingly fresh and the fennel was robust in flavor with a delicate crunch at the end.
Individual Paris Brest, Praline Mousseline, Hazelnut Semifreddo in a Chocolate cage
After the entrée was the fromage course, which, thanks to my decision to pace myself since the bread, I was still able to enjoy. A small chunk of Liviport cheese – straight from France, naturally – was served atop a fig and apricot compote and a crispy toasted crostini. The cheese was thick and creamy and the house made compote was the perfect combination of tangy and sweet.
And now, my favorite part of any meal: dessert. Similar to the rest of the meal, however, this was no ordinary dessert. Praline mousseline sandwiched between a Parisian pastry was topped with vanilla ice cream and a delicate chocolate cage structure. Served with powdered sugar, hazelnut semifreddo, thin slivers of almonds, crushed pistachios, and a sweet little raspberry on top, this masterpiece appeared almost too beautiful to eat.
Aspiring journalist Erica Robbie began her internship with D Magazine in January. Robbie, a sophomore at Southern Methodist University, is studying both the print and broadcast sides of journalism, in addition to sociology.
SideDish is a food-related discussion among editors at D Magazine about the Dallas-Fort Worth dining scene -- everything from good meals to bad service, kitchen gossip to restaurant news, chefs' secrets to culinary trends. Bon appetit.