Frankfurt – Français

Sometimes it is just a pleasure to literally watch how a chef develops. Almost in slow-motion, dishes pass by and tell a story of modernization, of self-discovery… Like a sculptor a chef needs time to set his unique picture, his style free.

Restaurant Français

At Français in Frankfurt, Patrick Bittner is a fine example how this evolution can actually happen. Having dined there in regular intervals (and increasing frequency I have to admit) one observation is clear cut: whereas his cuisine in 2008/9 was very good but rather classic the first star in November 2008 was a big turning point and milestone in his development. Bittner had been working towards this goal for some years – so the moment of liberation was quite substantial.

How has this impacted on Patrick Bittner’s cuisine?

Since then, the whole team just loves to cook and creates more and more new dishes that demonstrate an evolving clear-cut handwriting, namely the playful and seamless integration of fresh/sweet elements and undertones in the respective dishes. The effect of this idée fixe is mostly surprising, refreshing and keeps the diner receptive throughout the course of the menu. Another significant development is that Bittner begins to use modern plating instead of his previous dense stacked presentations. First, it makes the dishes look lighter and allows him to use a broader array of elements and flavours. In the end the dish has increased complexity and allows the diner to vary his degustation and try the ingredients in different combinations. To be sure, the current phase will be transitory but it clearly shows the direction.

Appetizer 1: Cannellono of Mozzarella de Buffalo, Tomato Confit and Basil Espuma

Our last menu started with a couple of high quality appetizers: an intense celery vanilla soup, a spoon of creamy cucumber, a superb small crab from Büsum and mustard air, a second spoon of refreshing iced Virgin Mary with stripes of celery and a cannellono of mozzarella de buffalo, confit of tomatoes and basil espuma. Interestingly, there is no given order – one could just wander around and, from time to time, snack from the crispbread with caraway and Arabic spices that added some nice crunch and depth.

Appetizers Part 2

The two amuses were very representative of the recent development and programmatic for the evolving style: a fantastic tuna belly served as a sashimi with wakame algae, lemon air and coriander mayonnaise. Some dried orange zests on the tuna belly added a surprising crisp freshness. Excellent to outstanding.

Tuna Belly - Wakame Algae / Lemon Air / Coriander Mayonnaise

The second amuse was also very compelling: a wonderful piece of Orkney salmon, marinated red onions, heart of palm and avocado. The interplay of the slightly sour onions, earthy heart of palm, sweet-sour citrus sorbet with the iodic and fresh salmon worked amazingly well. In particular the small sesame caramel stick made this dish special as it added not only crunch but also some cereal-like note that broadened the aroma spectrum. Excellent to outstanding.

Orkney Salmon - Marinated Red Onions / Heart of Palm / Avocado / Citron Sorbet

The first course was brilliant – having eaten literally tons of foie gras terrines in recent years we must say that there a few examples that are really remarkable and still on our minds. As simple as the combination of foie gras, green pepper, elder and yoghurt might look it was a complex masterpiece: especially the effect of the use of yoghurt as a softening and mediating element between the foie and the elder. The green pepper worked like a taste enhancer, a natural catalyst that accentuated the elder flavour and added complexity to the foie terrine. Confit of elder and the elder/rosmary ice cream set a respective counterpoint to the rich and dense terrine. Outstanding!

Alsatian Foie Gras - Elder / Yoghurt / Green Pepper

Next up was another stunning dish: a carpaccio of splendid langoustines with braised lukewarm pork chin, pink grapefruit, green asparagus and, as an ingenious add-on, popcorn of pork. Simply wonderful – we would have never thought that this one could work but it impressively did. The pork chin was amazingly tender and didn’t dominate the subtle langoustine at all – both formed some kind of symbiosis as if this combination would be the most natural one. Chapeau, Mr Bittner – these are the dishes every foodie is longing for, out-of-the-ordinary, masterly executed and very to the point.

Brittany Langoustines - Pink Grapefruit / Green Asparagus / Pork Chin

Bittner’s creations of caviar and crème crue are already a kind o signature dish. Whereas I was not particularly fond of the combination with green apple granité in 2008, I was pleasantly surprised by the current rather traditional serving: a generous portion of superb Ossiertra caviar (really representative of this Grand House) worked perfectly with the light blini, the rich but not overpowering crème crue and a herbal and intense sauce béarnaise slightly flavoured by a nice veal stock. Excellent to outstanding!

Russian Ossietra Imperial Caviar - Crème Crue / Potato Blini / Sauce Bearnaise

The Bavarian crayfish was of amazing quality, fresh as just caught from a near-by lake, served in a brilliant sugo of crayfish stock and ginger, intensified by some carrot confit. The bacon & peas ice cream à part catapulted us into heaven as the deep bacon flavour and the earthy-herbal peas worked like a underlying perfume and let the crayfish shine even brighter. Here, Bittner showed a deep understanding of proportions and flavour accords – a dish to be in love with.

Bavarian Crayfish - Young Peas / Ginger / Carrot Confit

Bacon / Peas Ice Cream

Hard to top that we ahve to admit and the St Pierre gave us a bit of room to settle down and take a deep breath. A masterly executed dish, very tasty chanterelles coupled with a nice version of Frankfurt Green Sauce – excellent.

St. Pierre de Ligne - Mashed Potatoes / Chanterelles / Frankfurt Herbs

The Brittany turbot was a pure Mediterranean delight – succulent and just yummy, best products notwithstanding. Excellent to outstanding.

Brittany Turbot - Young Artichokes / Capers / Confit of Tomatoes

For us, the main course was the weakest dish of this lunch, mainly because of the rich Cafè de Paris butter. Clearly, it’s homemade and very authentic (the brigade is kind of obsessed making it), but it overshadowed the fine suckling veal breast that was cooked sous-vide. For this subtle meat we would have preferred a modern playful use of this butter, maybe in the sense of how Elverfeld is using frozen sour cream in his Stroganoff interpretation. Overall a fine and very good main, especially the snail raviolo was a nice rustic counterpart to veal.

Suckling Veal Breast - Pointed Cabbage / Snail Raviolo / 'Café de Paris' Butter

The Obsthof Schneider is a local producer of various fruits, especially different kinds of apple for the local Eppelwoi. The prè-dessert is a wonderful showcase how different an apple can taste. ‘Pomona’ (for the sorbet) is rich and fruity whereas the “Wildlinge vom Löß” (for the Cidrè as a the basis for the jellied soup) is more rustic, mineralic. Excellent and refreshing.

Obsthof Schneider - 'Pomona' Crème Sorbet / 'Wildlinge auf Löss' as yellied soup

The pistachio / cherry dessert shows how pâtissier Oliver Näve progresses: his creations become complexer and nevertheless less dense and thus overall lighter. This creation was just excellent using different textures and temperatures following a common theme, namely the marriage of pistachio and cherry accentuated by chocolate and yoghurt. Excellent to outstanding.

Pistachio / Cherry - Mousse / Dumpling / Youghurt Espuma

The verdict
“Splendid? Splendid, we must say” – this was already an overall excellent to outstanding meal and clearly shows more potential if Bittner continues to follow his chosen path. In the meantime we should go there, relax and see how his cuisine gradually develops. From a Frankfurt perspective, Bittner is clearly the Number One slightly ahead of Mario Lohninger!

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Restaurant Français
Am Kaiserplatz
D-60311 Frankfurt am Main
Tel:  +49 69 215-118
Website
Contact
Opening Times:
 
Monday
Tuesday
Wednesday
Thursday
Friday
Saturday
Sunday
Lunch
12.00 – 13.45
12.00 – 13.45
12.00 – 13.45
12.00 – 13.45
12.00 – 13.45

Dinner
18:30-21:30
18:30-21:30
18:30-21:30
18:30-21:30
18:30-21:30






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