Le Havre – Restaurants – Jean-Luc Tartarin
Le Havre, although not a world capital, counts one 2-star Michelin restaurant (3 stars is the very top); Jean-Luc Tartarin.
The Michelin guide regularly tests these rated restaurants (anonymously) to ensure that the restaurant is as it should be. And when you have 2 Michelin stars, you are at the top of your profession (in fact, even getting mentioned in Michelin’s red book is an accomplishment).
The Jean-Luc Tartarin restaurant, named after their chef, is located on the Champs Elysee-wannabe, Avenue Foch, next to the Saint-Roch park.
The restaurant is not big in terms of the number of seats, with tables spaced properly so that you can hold private conversations without other diners overhearing what you are saying. And that’s important, because eating at a 2-star Michelin restaurant will set you back quite a lot, so you’ll need an expense account.
Another typical habit at Michelin restaurants is the ratio of the number of staff versus customers; a lot of staff. Each staff member has its own role; bringing you to the table, serving you freshly baked bread, suggesting the wine, taking your order, etc.
Of course the food is incredible. It has to be. Jean-Luc Tartarin plays with smells. When you order a fish dish for example, it comes covered with a glass dome. When all the food is placed on your table for you and your fellow diners, the dome is lifted and a salty sea breeze floats up to greet your nose, reminding you of the sea, seaweed and fish.
This way, not only your tastebuds come alive, but also other senses, creating an anticipation of the meal to come.
The menu changes quite regularly, at least every season, so you can come here every few months and not eat the same food twice. There is even a monthly seasonal menu for those who call the restaurant their office annex.
The “cave” is stocked with plenty of good, and mostly moderately expensive wines.
Menu will cost you around €40 per person at the low side and €150 per person on the high side (but then you get 12 courses so better be very hungry). Those prices do not include any drinks, nor coffee. Just the meal, tap water and bread.
The ambiance, like many of these high-end restaurants is subdued. Quite whispers, occasional food-orgasms and some clinking of the knives & forks.
Service is very good and responsive. They don’t hover over your table and they do keep an eye out whether to refill your drink, add some bread or take away the dishes.
The restaurant is very good, there is no doubt. The location is very nice, right next to a nicely designed park, and the restaurant is not big with 100’s of customers.
My only reservation is the social attitude of the chef himself. The two times I’ve eaten there, he could be heard screaming at his kitchen staff, slurring his words, and the one time I visited his kitchen, it was obvious he was drunk. Which for a top chef is not good, he should be in the restaurant smooching with his customers. But that does not take away his food quality as a chef.
But nevertheless, the restaurants merits a visit (budget permitting).
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