Food spot Food

Popping up pop-up restaurants

Concoction of tasties: Some dishes from the spread laid out by Chef Marc Bayon at Le Bistro Du Parc. Photo: special arrangement

Concoction of tasties: Some dishes from the spread laid out by Chef Marc Bayon at Le Bistro Du Parc. Photo: special arrangement  

Some days ago, I had a series of interesting conversations with some of my chef friends about what to look out for in the New Year. They all had strong views on the subject. One of them talked about the farm to fork movement. He and his team have been visiting farms around Pune for using farm-fresh produce in their hotel kitchens. Another spoke about the spread of Indian regional cuisine.

A third chef talked about a new trend called neuro-gastronomy — which seeks to present food that appeals to more than three senses. A dish, for instance, plays with flavours, taste, temperature, texture and so on. Someone mentioned the dominance of super foods such as the protein-rich endame beans.

But one trend that they didn’t speak of — but which I believe we are going to see more and more of — is the pop-up restaurant. This is a concept where you have chefs cooking in what can be called a temporary restaurant. Or you have visiting chefs who cook a meal at an existing restaurant.

Late last week, I went to one such pop-up lunch at Le Bistro du Parc. The food had been cooked by Chef Marc Bayon. Called the Palate of Provence, the pop-up presented a host of wonderful dishes from Provence in southeastern France.

I started with an interesting amuse bouche — seared sardine with black olive tapenade and anchovy. And though, for an entrée, I was tempted by a soft boiled egg with smoked salmon juliennes, asparagus cream and red caviar, I opted for the asparagus velouté with Mediterranean vegetables. The sauce — prepared with butter, flour and stock — was creamy, yet wonderfully light.

I prefer lamb to fish, which is why when it came to the main dish, I turned down the olive-studded red snapper with tomato tatin and sauce vierge (a sauce prepared with olive oil, lemon juice, chopped tomato and basil). Instead, I dug into the garlic rubbed lamb loin with Provençale vegetables and lavender jus. And for dessert, I opted for the deconstructed gateau charlotte with strawberries, crumbled nougat and puffed rice.

The lamb was superb. The meat was succulent and the way I like it — just a little underdone. That ensures that the meat stays soft and the juices remain intact. The pungent flavour of garlic went rather well with the sweetish-minty flavour of the lavender jus. The vegetables were filled with ratatouille — which is a stewed vegetable dish that I am rather fond of.

The dessert, as expected, was a sinfully glorious concoction of tastes — with the strawberries and the nougat adding to the flavours, and the puffed rice giving it a crunchy texture. The gateau was “deconstructed” because it didn’t come shaped like a cake but mixed with all the good stuff in a goblet. I took a spoonful and thought it was the perfect end to a very nice meal.

Master Chef Bayon, who won his first Michelin star when he was just 23, has worked in some of the top restaurants of France. And clearly he knows how to get the diner’s gastric juices flowing. He cooked the dishes with local ingredients, and the freshness added to the taste of the dishes. C’est magnifique, I said to myself.

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Printable version | Apr 1, 2020 8:54:05 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/Food/popping-up-popup-restaurants/article6794322.ece

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