After having worked at Ferran Adrias elBulli and Pierre Gagnaires eponymous restaurant in Paris, Akrame Benallal opened restaurant Akrame in 2011. In 2012, just a year after opening, the restaurant won its first Michelin star. Akrame retained its star in the 2013 edition of the Guide.
Restaurant Akrame is located on 19 Rue Lauriston, a few minutes walk from Arc de Triomphe in the 16th arrondisement which is a rather wealthy area in Paris.
The dining room, which seats between 20 or 30 guests, has a quite modern dark interior. Tables, chairs, the floor and the walls all go in dark colours (black, brown and grey). The tables have no tableclothes. I am personally not very keen on dark interiors but I still found the restaurant quite cosy.
Akrame offers two tasting menues. The six course menu Gourmand for 90 euros and the four course menu Coup de cœur for 70 euros. As far as I have understood the menus are market driven. The website does not reveal the dishes of the menus. There is no à la carte menu.
Having had a little bit too much food the last couple of days in Paris (reviews of Astrance, Guy Savoy and Benoit will follow shortly) we chose the four course menu. We simply did not think we had room for more food. Looking back I am a bit unsure if we really got the small menu. There were more than four courses and the extras were not the size of amuse bouches.
Mini navet glaçon, mayonnaise beurre noisette
The dinner started with three appetizers. First came a turnip, cut like a small carrot and cooked until very tender, with some brown butter mayonnaise. Simple and fresh.
Coqu’ olives noires au yaourt
Chips made of dried black olives with yoghurt. Good olive flavour.
Asperge de Roques-Hautes / cachuètes
The first course was a green asparagus of high quality cooked to perfection with peanuts three ways; chopped, emulsified and mixed to a peanut butter. The combination of peanuts and asparagus was very good.
Huître spéciale <Roumégous> passionnément passion
Under the passionfruit foam was an oyster of very high quality with an emulsion of the passionfruit and some passionfruit kernels. A quite good dish but the balance between the passionfruit and oyster was not perfect, the passionsfruit being a little bit to prominent. Maybe this was an effect of the foam hiding the other components of the dish which resulted in my taking the whole oyster in one bite, leaving a plate of just passionfruit.
Filet de barbue de ligne au thé vert / feuille de blette, pousse d’épinard
A fillet of line caught brill with a perfect and very tasty crust was served on top of chard leafs. Next to the fish were some herbs, inter alia parsley and coriander and an green tea emulsion. Very good.
Sorbet mandarine safran
A sorbet of mandarin with a fluid gel of mandarin and saffron. Very intense flavour of mandarin with the saffron adding some roundness.
Œuf / poulet / mais / popcorn
A slow cooked egg, with some kind of chicken jus, rested on gently roasted corn and mixed popcorn. It might sound simple or strange but this was brilliant. It is actually one of the very best egg dishes I have ever had. Bravo!
Quasi de veau / riz vénéré aux herbes et fromage blanc
Veal with toasted rice, veal stock and, in a separate bowl, black rice with fromage blanc. This was not a bad dish but not as good as the rest of the meal. I should mention that I am not a big fan of veal. It really does not taste much.
Comme un vacherin
The three desserts were served together. We were instructed to start with the Comme un vacherin, then go on with the beer ice cream and to finish with the pear. Between two meringue discs were a quenelle of anise flavoured ice cream. It was a fresh, not particularly sweet, and nice dessert but I found the flavours being a little bit too mild. That might have been an effect of the three desserts being served together with the much sweeter pear. And I could not resist to try the pear before the vacherin.
Glace à la bière / lait fermentée
Beer ice cream with fermented milk. I am not a big fan of beer in desserts. And this was no exception. It was quite bitter.
Poire au charbon en monochrome
The final dessert was much better than the two first. The pear had been smoked, although I did not taste much smoke, and was served with a very nice caramel ice cream and caramel crumbs. This was of course a sweet dessert but it was still quite fresh. A very good dessert.
A chocolate bar with salt flakes to eat in the restaurant or bring home. The two red “buttons” were made of freeze dried raspberry. I think the yellow ones were made of mango.
This was a very good dinner. The quality of the produce was high, everything was cooked to perfection, the dishes were well balanced and innovative and most of the food was very yummy. Akrame Benallals cuisine is very light. You do not feel heavy at all after an evening on 19 Rue Lauriston.
When I arrived at Akrame I did not really have much appetite for food. Especially not fine dining food. Chances that the food would not impress me were therefore quite high. It is inevitable that your expectations and the mood you are in affect your opinions of a restaurant. Considering this I am even more impressed by Akrame Benallals cooking
After my dinner at Akrame I found The Wondering Epicures review of Akrame. They visited Akrame in June 2012 and found Benallal to be a very talented chef but the cuisine uneven. They also had to wait for a long time for the meat course. I experienced none of those remarks. During my dinner the cooking was very even and all the dishes arrived in perfect pace.
Akrame is really a restaurant to watch. Akrame Benallal is fore sure a very gifted chef and I am sure that we will hear more from him in the future. I would not be surprised if Guide Michelin elevates Akrame to two star level soon. Akrame is highly recommended. I will definitely return to Akrame the next time I’m in Paris.