A champagne trolley is wheeled to our table. Celebrating (always something), we go for a full glass of Marc Hebrart Brut Rosé 1er Cru. The table next to us is nearing the end of their dinner, and I see them lick a lolly.
We opt for the 8-course tasting menu with wine pairings. The other option would have been 5-course. There is no other menu at The Pass: the chef takes you on a journey through the kitchen and its creativity.
Modern dining. Fine art on a plate, the food is intriguing and entertaining to the senses. There is an element of surprise, a teaser, an unexpected taste. Throughout the evening, different kitchen chefs appear at our table, explaining a dish, an ingredient, answering a question, slicing a component, pouring a liquid, bringing a final touch.
The Pass has a different menu as seasons come, and kitchen creativity blooms. This one is from almost a year ago, when we visited the restaurant for the first time.
In a hay-like nest sits a duck egg, filled up with chawanmushi, a custard made with gingko nuts. It comes topped with salty dashi flaked granola. Visual pleasure versus bland custard, it is rather oddly paired with foie gras framed in brioche toast. In the pairing, we went for the refreshing and fruity 2011Tokaji sec, which pleasantly mingled with the foie gras. The other pairing option was the Junmai Ginjo "Bride of the Fox" sake. It would perhaps have lifted the custard and dashi granola somewhat.
The house smoked trout floating in creamy brandade is plate-licking good. Flavors are rich, deep, with licorice hints of tarragon. Even a small spoonful is sheer delight, especially when the flavors mix with those of plump salmon eggs bursting. The dish is accompanied by a wood box full of paper-thin reconstructed potato crisps.
Culinary entertainment arrives with a salt-and-coffee crusted, black-charred baked rutabaga: its crust is carefully cracked at the table to reveal a deep orange, steaming-hot naturally sweet rutabaga, its flesh gently infused with the salt and coffee from its crust. Slices naturally savory-sweet rutabaga join a plate with brilliantly tender venison, and nutty wheatberries, fragrant with orange. More than a pretty picture, the aromas of coffee and orange, against the meatiness of the venison, the heartiness of the wheatberries and intense flavor of the baked rutabaga made for a perfect fall dish. It married well with the 2007 Chateauneuf du Pape.
|vanilla risotto with shaved truffle-infused chocolate, a stunning dessert. |
Apologies for the blurry images, IPhone pictures and wine pairings are not the best match
Wine pairings were original and spot on, and while pouring some great wines, other pairings were equally intriguing, from a specialty cocktail, sake to microbrew beers. The evening ended with another trolley wheeled to our table: a sweets cart. Lollies, marshmallows, mini madeleines, brittle, wrapped candy... all made in-house, and best of all: you didn't have to pick, but instead you're encouraged to try them all!
The Pass. Can't wait to try another journey.
The Pass is the intimate, fine dining counterpart of The Pass & Provisions. Provisions is the convivial part, with annexed bar for some outstanding cocktails and local beers. Plates are often intended for sharing, although you can gobble it up all by yourself. Food is tasty, fresh, and creative in its own right. It is, after all, cooked under the same culinary roof as The Pass.