Food: French classic
Address: 285, avenue Victor-Hugo, 26000 Valence France
Phone Number: +33 (0) 4 75 44 15 32
Guide Michelin: 3 stars
Gault & Millau: 18.5
What I paid: 480 € (biggest tasting menu, wine pairing and water)
Visited: July 28, 2017
Restaurant Anne-Sophie Pic (or just Pic, within the hotel Maison Pic) is a world-renowned three Guide Michelin starred restaurant in Valence (a small provincial town, south of Lyon, in the Rhône valley).
Anne-Sophie Pic is the daughter of chef Jacques Pic, and grew up at her family’s hotel and restaurant, Maison Pic (the restaurant itself is now foremost referenced as Anne-Sophie Pic or just Pic). Her grandfather, Andre Pic (1893-1984), was one of the three great French chefs outside of Paris in the thirties (along with Fernand Point and Alexandre Dumain, jointly regarded as the founders of the modern nouvelle cuisine). Andre was the first in the family to gain the restaurant three Michelin stars in 1939 (the restaurant established already in 1889).
However, Anne-Sophie initially decided not to follow in their footsteps, and instead travelled overseas to train in management. She worked in Japan and in the US, as an intern for various companies, including Cartier and Moët & Chandon, but found herself drawn back to the restaurant for her “passion”.
At the age of 23, in 1992 she returned to Maison Pic to train under her father to become a chef. He died three months later, and she moved to working the front of the house. In 1995, the restaurant lost its third Michelin star, and encouraged her to return to the kitchen. In 1997, Anne-Sophie took control of the restaurant, but had no formal training in cooking.
In 2007, she regained Maison Pic’s three Michelin stars and Pic’s is the only family in France, in which three generations of chefs, have each gained three Michelin stars. Anne-Sophie is also a chevalier de l’ordre des Arts et des Lettres (the equivalent of receiving a knighthood).
There are three different tasting menus, currently priced as 170, 250 and 330 Euro respectively. We opted for the largest one, called the Essential menu.
Some tasty nibbles started this dinner.
I really liked those “crackers” and the “soil” those were mounted on.
This last amusement was like a starter and contained (what I remember…) carrots of superb taste and quality.
This was the first “official” dish on the menu and consisted of assorted tomatoes. Very tasty and fresh tomatoes with bursting natural flavors, chilled Murcott mandarin, Chiloé berry and sage consommé. The tomatos are accompanied with ice cream made of an over-mature olive oil from the Alexis Munoz producer. Good!
The Berlingots were filled with soft, lightly smoked Banon cheese, watercress consommé and infused with matcha, ginger and bergamot. Tasty!
The langoustine was marinated in white heather honey and also contained a langoustine dashi, korarima, angelica and over-ripened yuzu zest. Good!
The next dish was of Tarbouriech oysters and had sauce inspired by Irish coffee, with Bourbon Pointu coffee served in a Chemex pot. It also contained a Jerusalem artichoke cream.
The Tarbouriech oysters are considered the very best in France and apart from Pic, the 3-stars Michelin French chefs such as Alain Ducasse, Guy Savoy and Yannick Alléno all rate Tarbouriech oysters as the king of bivalves.
I really enjoyed the oyster itself, which were of excellent quality, but I was not that keen in regards to the “coffee sauce”.
THE BLUE LOBSTER
The next dish, blue lobster, were roasted in lobster butter. It also contained lightly smocked dashi with raspberry-barberry chutney, lovage and lavender.
Excellent quality lobster, but I was not super keen in regards to the gravy. But still, a very good dish.
Pigeon is a favorite of mine and Pic did not make me disappointed. Squab is a young domestic pigeon, typically under four weeks old. The Drôme squab served, was lightly smoked and roasted breast side down, with Madagascan vanilla, roasted barley, scented woodruff and Phu Quoc pepper infusion. Delicious!
MILK-FED VEAL SWEETBREADS
Milk-fed veal sweetbread with roasted in Liberica coffee and caramel Gruyere, white asparagus, wild garlic and Menton lemon. Good!
BRIE DE MEAUX WITH BOURBON VANILLA AND CHEESE CART
Good quality cheeses, as expected.
SELECTION OF DELICACIES
I do not remember what was served in regards to the picture above (which was some kind of pre-dessert). That being said, even though we opted for the largest menu, we were only allowed to chose one dessert from the menu. I would have appreciated if we, at least, could have had two desserts (we were actually paying a full 330 € for just the menu…).
BITTER HONEY CHOCOLATE
The chocolate, in the dessert I choose, was created by Valrhona solely for Anne-Sophie Pic. The dessert was created like a honeycomb and contained Corsican bitter honey, panna cotta cream and Hojicha Cubeb tea ganache. Artistic and good!
I was not particularly impressed by the range of petit fours (three small nibbles each). Especially since we were provided only one single dessert.
Summary: I enjoyed almost all food served this evening. The only real complain, from a pure taste perspective, was the gravy served with the oyster.
That being said, we had a table that seemed to be placed in a crossroad and there were a lot of traffic, in regards to waiters, passing our table during our dinner.
I was also surprised that we only got one single dessert, given that we ordered the biggest menu (a 330 €). Add to this that it was a rather lean range of petit fours.
Another strange thing was that they collected all our menus (after we had made our choices). In other words; we did not have a menu to keep track on what was supposed to show up. Maybe not the end of the universe, but when we did not get any menu when we left the restaurant, I actually got a little bit irritated (however, when contacting them after I arrived home, they were happy to send me the menu).