BORDEAUX, FRANCE, February 20, 2018 : Le Pavillon des Boulevards is a graciously charming Michelin starred restaurant set in a classic townhouse in an upscale district of Bordeaux. It is here that Thibaut Berton and his business partner, Chef Thomas Morel are challenging the culinary elite of Bordeaux with eclectic cuisine that is both innovative and sensational.
Le Pavillon des Boulevards – Chef Thomas Morel and Thibaut Berton
Chef Morel has earned his first Michelin star and may well be on his way to acquiring a second. His passion and intensity is contagious. It is borne out tonight in his own unique take on stylishly creative Haute Cuisine by a series of jaw dropping dishes.
Thibaut Berton orchestrates a sophisticated experience, as elegant as it is surprising. He is both Maestro and Matre’d as he guides his guests through an enthralling evening of fine dining.
These two young partners took over and reinvigorated an established restaurant two years ago, and are already blazing their own unique trail in the culinary firmament of Bordeaux.
It is a highly personal setting, like having dinner at a good friend’s house, if that friend was a Michelin starred chef.
Le Pavillon des Boulevards – The Restaurant
The restaurant interior is a beautiful affair, just 12 gleaming tables in an elegant townhouse surrounded by an enclosed solarium.
A large patio stretches out beyond a maze of glass architecture walls. It all lends the air of a secret retreat from the world outside. The atmosphere is serene and warmly comforting.
The room is all white on white, with polished hardwood floors, flowing curtains, and an understated beauty and elegance. A corner ceiling lamp seems out of an Issaye Miyake modernist design.
Le Pavillon des Boulevards – The Staff
Thibaut runs the room with an air of dignified fervor and aplomb. A crack young staff is eager, enthusiastic, and highly trained in the culinary arts of presentation.
Our server, Constantine Lebrun, is a 22 year old Yves Montagne lookalike who is fervent about his young career in the world of Haute Cuisine and fine dining.
Sommelier Anise Plu is but 20 years old, but with a deep knowledge of the regions wines and an endearingly lovable personality.
Le Pavillon des Boulevards – The Meal
Thibaut suggests the Chef surprise menu, and the evening begins with a series of 9 courses that amuse, delight, surprise and enthrall over the next three hours.
A pair of grilled tuna slices on diced mango in a miso sauce is a perfect starter, just enough to whet the appetite. The early courses are paired with a lovely red wine from Pessac, an almost even blend of Merlot and Cabernet.
Ice cream of seasonal white asparagus with quail egg is a fabulous early delight. The ice cream is at the center of the dish, surrounded by slices of asparagus under foam that is subtle, lovely, almost an afterthought.
It is a fascinating take on asparagus, a taste treat for the senses and the eyes, on a trip through France that has featured asparagus at many restaurants, but never like this.
Mackerel paired with a Foie Gras gelee is fantastic, simple, but delightful. Touches of sauce bring out the flavors of the tender mackerel, while the soft mousse of foie gras serves as an expressive counterpoint in texture and taste.
Le Pavillon des Boulevards- The standouts
Sea Bream terrine on an oyster tartar is sensational, a completely innovative tour de force. Again, on a trip that has featured sea bream on many menus this is a totally original take that shows why Thomas Morel has his much deserved Michelin star.
The sea bream is rich, thinly layered over a tartar of oyster that makes the oyster the star of the dish. It is a slice of pure sophistication, the contrasting flavors a culinary delight, impressively and completely original.
Scampi with razor clams on a beetroot risotto is an ecstatic flavor combo, a total taste surprise. Ruby red risotto is richly amazing. The scampi is meaty and flavorful.
The razor clam, always a delight, serves as a beautiful partnering element of the dish. It is especially powerful when all three are put together on one forkful.
Le Pavillon des Boulevards – The Kitchen
The kitchen is ablaze with the dedicated teamwork of a brilliant staff. Thomas Morel and his colleagues operate as a seamless unit to create a seemingly endless stream of Haute Cuisine.
Friendly and engaging even as they go about their work, it is a rare chance to watch a Michelin starred chef in action during service. Their precision and attention to detail is intricately fascinating, and the essence of what they do.
Turbot with leeks in a chive sauce is a more traditional dish, but beautifully cooked. Crisp on the outside, it is lusciously buttery on the inside, with the chive sauce and roasted leeks providing a touch of sharpness.
Le Pavillon des Boulevards – The signature dish
The crown of the evening is sweetbreads with a pea puree, an impeccable presentation that is as luscious as it looks. The sweetbreads are delightfully crispy on the surface, firmly tender and succulent on the inside, perfectly cooked.
This signature dish rises to new levels of brilliance and innovation. The pea puree accents the dish under a generous scattering of peas. The taste combination with sauce and sweetbreads is otherworldly, the contrast of presentation a thing of beauty.
The later dishes are paired with a smooth red Medoc, a fruit forward wine with roughly a 75% Cabernet 25% Merlot blend, as is typical of the eastern appellations of Bordeaux.
In Bordeaux the blending of wine depends on the soil, with more Cabernet in St Estephe, roughly equal amounts in Pessac, and a majority of Merlot in St Emilion.
Le Pavillon des Boulevards – The Deserts
The deserts are accented with a lovely Sauterne that perfectly complements the first dish, a nasure benedette of green apple ice cream. It is tart and sweetly understated, a palette cleanser that opens the senses with its gentle flavor.
This is followed by a wildly creative pink sugar dome that when cracked open reveals a raspberry sorbet in a delicious and visually stunning coup de grace.
A taste explosion in our mouth and mind, it exemplifies the cutting edge nature that is the distilled essence at the heart of Chef Morel’s transformational Haute Cuisine.
Le Pavillon des Boulevards – a well deserved “Chef’s pose”
The fever pitch of the evening recedes, and it is hard to believe that three hours have past. The whirlwind of exotic fare winds down, leaving the diner satiated and delighted.
Thibaut Berton and Thomas Morel have accomplished at Le Pavillon des Boulevards what many set out to do, but few achieve. They are finding new ways to create art from cuisine, and putting their own personal stamp on it.
In a wildly expansive Bordeaux fine dining scene they have made a mark to be reckoned with. Le Pavillon des Boulevards is the type of restaurant to be sought out, engaged and indulged with all the intensity, passion, and joy of life that Thibaut and Thomas themselves bring to their endeavor.
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Joel Berliner is a travel writer based in Los Angeles @JoelBerliner
All photo’s by Alison Reynolds @BigAlPeoplesPal