The Gallic classics like a chèvre salad, duck breast a l’orange and profiteroles were very well-executed and enjoyable, the surprise – and highlight for me – was the mushroom ravioli. As much as I enjoy pasta, especially filled pasta at a restaurant, as the degree of difficulty is too great for me to make a satisfying version at home, I am hesitant to order it at a French restaurant. But, my friend was enthusiastic about trying it and I very quickly relented. Very glad I did, too.
The mushroom ravioli – properly Raviolis aux Champignons – was the best stuffed pasta dish I have had a restaurant since ravioli at Amalfi. Featuring the small champignon mushrooms tucked inside silky smooth pockets of soft and flavorful pasta, along with some mushrooms outside, and all sitting in a light-colored and light broth, the dish brought out the pleasantly woodsy notes of those funghi that was subtle but contributed to wonderful overall taste of the dish. The menu described port, truffle oil and an aged Parmesan as other ingredients, and other than the cheese. These were unnoticeable, but obviously great supporting players. The dish was not heavy and worked well as an appetizer, where it is listed on the menu. The substantial broth and presentation made it seem more French than Italian, but the execution of the pasta was as good as you will find in the best Italian restaurants here.
A French master chef – officially a Maître Cuisinier de France since last year – like Etoile’s Philippe Verpiand can obviously make fresh pasta, or can hire or train a kitchen to do so quite well. It probably should not be a surprise to me that a French kitchen can be so adept at this. Fresh pastas and risotto dishes have crept into the French restaurant repertoire in the past couple decades. Italy is just over the Alps from France. David Denis, when he and his staff, ran the nearby Ristorante Cavour a few years ago and made ethereal, fantastic gnocchi.
When you visit Etoile, you might want to consider something beyond their classic and expected Gallic creations. At least the mushroom ravioli.
1101-11 Uptown Park Boulevard, 77056, (832) 668-5808