Renowned Chef Frederic Vardon Brings a Taste of French Luxury Cuisine to Lebanon

A tasting night at Eau de Vie, Beirut, with Chef Frederic Vardon from the 39V Restaurant, Paris. An interesting journey…

The Intercontinental Phoenicia Hotel in Beirut recently hosted a special high end tasting dinner with Chef Frederic Vardon, a renowned French chef who flew in straight from Paris, France.

Known as neoclassical cuisine lover, Chef Vardon has worked with the best. He has collaborated for 14 years with Alain Ducasse, one of the world’s most decorated chefs, known for his incomparable French cuisine.

Chef Vardon has now set up a luxurious restaurant at 39 Avenue George V, tucked away on the sixth floor roof of a apartment building. His gastronomy skills define the contemporary, rich and delicious French cuisine. Elegant, seductive and just right, his talent draws its inspiration from French culinary heritage, while using new techniques in modern style.

As the saying goes, giving a first impression is very important, and Chef Vardon – in my opinion – did just that. The first impression he marked was very catchy, as he left a written note in his own handwriting, welcoming us to this journey. It was written in French: “Toute l’equipe du restaurant Eau De Vie et du 39V se joint a moi pour vous remerceier de voter presence parmi nous.”

The journey started as we experienced a beautiful seven course meal filled with only the finest and noblest ingredients, handpicked by the chef himself, including urchins, scallops and line caught sea bass delicately complementing foie gras, truffle and farm veal as follows:

– Royal-style warm sea urchins, sliced scallops with crispy celery and truffle.
– Duck foie gras with toasted and pickled brioche; served cold and comes in 4 layers of gelee and patee with three slices of magret de canard. Yellow soft brioche with raisins.
– Roasted sea bass in green herb sauce with salted butter; 2 pieces of shrimps, 4 pieces of mussels covered with bread crumbs.
– Roasted French farm veal, seasonal vegetables with slightly spiced sauce.

During the dinner, we were served five different kinds of carefully selected wines including:
– 2010 Blanc de Blanc Ksara
– 2003 Rudesheimer Berg Roseneck, Riesling
– 2007 Chateau Fontareche
– 2003 Chateau Meyney, Saint Eatephe
– 2004 Lacrima D’oro Kefraya

With all that came after Ksara’s Blanc de Blanc, I honestly didn’t understand why we started with this specific wine; instead we should have started with the finest and the best.

This voyage of discovery ended with sublime desserts and, of course, Frédéric Vardon’s signature dessert: the 39V Crispy Chocolate Cake. We tried the Pearly meringues, fresh cream cheese ice cream with a chest of  honey; the crispy dark chocolate cake with a gold paper leaf; as well as coffee, sweets and some chocolates.

All was nice. But before I end this review, I have a few points to share with you, which I believe are essential and crucial for these kinds of events.

The dinner was very good, tasty, amazingly presented, carefully prepared but in my opinion lacked that ‘wow’ effect.  Whenever a Michelin star chef invades a kitchen, he should have that wow effect on his guests, which I translate as the “mmmm” effect when you close your eyes to savor the taste. I didn’t really feel that. The taste would have surely been better if the dishes were less complicated.

The music was inappropriate. Lounge music? Rock music to continue? Dance music to end? That was unacceptable. It is known worldwide that for these kinds of events, classical music is a must.

The menu was in English. A Michelin star French chef specializing in French cuisine that was served with French wine – all these details impose a French written menu. I have toured French restaurants all around the world, even in Seoul, where the menu is written in French with maybe a small English translation where needed. I don’t think it was acceptable that the menu was in English during this event.

I believe it was overpriced compared to events of the same caliber around town.

Rating: 3.5/5