Falling in Love with French Cuisineby Opinion Express May 24, 2019 0 comments
The authentic food, the French bistro ambience and the endearing service at PAUL make for a perfect meal, says Shambhavi Suri
Cooking in the 21st century is often equated with new methods like molecular gastronomy. However, at Paul, they believe that there is nothing better than spending time with family and friends over a delicious meal. Located in the busy Ambience Mall, Gurugram, this restaurant will make you fall in love with the French cuisine. “We received a set of rules and guideline from PAUL International for everything. From the décor to the machines, which we are supposed to use and the recipes,” say chef Vipin (head pastry chef) and chef Lokesh (executive chef).
Before I talk about the food, I wanted to elaborate on something that the place exuded which made the visit more memorable. Here, they believe that “there is no sincerer love than that of food,” and they show it. There is love in the food they bring to the table and it is evident in the way they treat their guests and probably that’s the reason why you don’t want to leave.
The ambience really seems to take you to one of the cafés along the walkway in France. Sitting inside, you can smell the breads baking, the coffee brewing and the aroma of decadent food. The décor is simple yet elegant and the smell of bakery in the air is comforting.
While I was just about sinking in the experience, the first of the courses was brought to the table. This were the smoked salmon bites, traditionally referred as a tartine in French or simply put, sliced and toasted baguettes, topped with ingredients.This tartine was bite size, toasted baguettes, topped with a refreshing dill sour cream, smoked salmon and sprinkled with with capers and mustard grains. The crunchiness from the fresh baguette added a bite to the dish while the creaminess of the sour cream and silkiness of the salmon, melted in the mouth. The capers and the mustard grains further, enhanced and elevated the bites by adding a little pungency and saltiness. This dish was sophisticated and a perfect appetite builder.
I was still savouring the flavour of the salmon bites when a whiff of onions, freshly baked bread and cheese wafted through the air. The next thing I knew, a French onion soup was placed before me. Campagne bread served as a bowl for the soup, where as soon as the lid was removed, I could smell the caramelised onions and the baked cheese. The soup was essentially, a thick brown broth in which onions were slow cooked. A sip revealed that it contained the richness of onions, cheese and butter. This is what heaven is made of. The onions made the broth sweeter, however, it was balanced with the saltiness that was provided by the cheese and butter. The soup was rich, wholesome and left a heavy coat on the palate. Rest assured, the dish is bound to take you to your happy place.
In order to freshen things up, their signature salad was served. Made up of iceberg lettuce, grilled chicken, finely-cut green apple, carrots and topped with walnuts and emmental cheese, this salad burst with goodness. It was sweet, salty, smoky and crunchy. There was nothing to complain about here. Its simplicity marked its perfection.
Making the French experience even better, the croque-monsieur made its way to the table. It is the French version of a ham and cheese sandwich. There was extra cheese with fresh ham, served along-side crispy, golden-brown hash browns. One would realise why it’s a French classic as it makes you fall in love with food, all over again.
Next up was a Margherita pizza and a Pepperoni pizza. Pizzas at PAUL’s are hand-tossed and thin crust. The Margherita one was topped with fresh tomato sauce, mozzarella, parmesan and garnished with basil leaves. As for the Pepperoni pizza, it consisted of tomato sauce topped with pork pepperoni and mozzarella. What was commendable about both the pizzas, was the freshness of ingredients that one could taste. Another thing that made them stand out was the tomato sauce that was not entirely brought down to a liquid consistency. The tomatoes still have a bite to them which gives out a tanginess, that will make you ask for more.
The seafood mains were up next. First, one on the table was the seafood fettucini. The fish and whole prawns were lightly tossed in tomato sauce that gave the dish a vibrant orange colour. Taking a bite, the first flavour that coated the palate was the tanginess of the sauce which gradually made way for thyme and buttery-ness. The seafood adds an earthy and salty flavour to the pasta, balancing out the dish altogether. The second seafood dish was PAUL’s signature, the grilled tiger prawns. The slightly charred prawns presented on a bed of nutty romesco sauce (made with sweet red pepper), served with buttered veggies, is bound to sweep you off your feet. A little sweet-heat from the romesco sauce with the tiger prawns, cooked to perfection, sings in harmony on your palate.
Last but definitely not the least of the mains, was the roasted baby chicken. This dish is to die for. Sous-vide chicken, cooked off in the pan, served with some veggies and a salad topped with a pepper jus. The sous-vide cooking process helps the chicken retain all its juices while cooking. While cutting the chicken on the plate, I realised that there was crispy skin which crackles as the knife slices through it. Taking a bite, the skin was crunchy while the chicken underneath it was tender and released all its juices as you bite in. The pepper added a layer over the chicken and binds the dish together. To cut through the richness of the dish, the salad on the side helped.
To end the evening on a sweet note, desserts were served — Tiramisu and a Strawberry cheesecake. The tiramisu was as authentic as it could get. However, to take the traditional creation one step further, Kalhua was added to the batter. The flavour of the coffee was stronger and more rustic, pertaining to the premium Lavazza espresso shots used in the making. Tiramisu is definitely a choice for the ones who don’t have much of a sweet tooth and love coffee. For the ones who like their desserts sweet, the strawberry cheesecake is your choice. The buttery cracker base topped with vanilla cheesecake and finished with strawberry crush, was beautiful, airy and light. Just the perfect way to end the evening!
Writer: Shambhavi Suri
Courtesy: The Pioneer