Saturday, December 22, 2012

it doesnt get better than LE GAIAC at Le Toiny on St. Barths (12-20-12)

Our last night in St. Barth's was reserved for a visit to the secluded
Le Toiny Resort, a Relais et Chateau resort at the east end of the
island where award winning Chef Stephane Mazieres runs the show at
their romantic LE GAIAC Restaurant (name for a local tree on the
island there is one in front of Le Toiny). The outdoor setting is over
an infinity pool with craggy hills to one side, the Caribbean
stretching beyond and the lights of distant islands far off.
The linens are fine, the cutlery replaced every course, and only the
service was a bit lacking. We started with some snacks (mahi-mahi
tartelettes, pumpkin fritters and deep fried shrimp wrapped in
prosciutto) and drinks (Bellini, Margarita and a Season Cooler for
Samuel made of pineapple, grapefruit, Grenadine and Ginger Ale).
We had a hotel site inspection just as the sun set, so we finished our
treats around 630pm to be told the dining room opened at 7pm. At
710pm, the staff was still gathered around the bar as we waited at our
table to place a wine and dinner order. There was a long delay and it
was a bit frustrating. We did clearly tell two people in French &
English that we like to dine and need at least 20 minutes between
courses. After the mini-debacle the previous night, we thought we
could not have been more clear.
We were happy to see BADOIT replace the ever-present San Pellegrino
(well it is a French island) as this is our favorite sparkling water.
The wonderful rolls and grissini arrived (Sam adored these) with tasty
butters, one made from salty algae, the other from tasty yuzu.
Clearly, inventiveness was key here.

We started with a bottle of CHOREY LES BAUNES 2007 Domaine Millard
which was intense in flavor and luscious with all our starters and
The first amuse was made of three: Tomato Confit Tarte, Fig Macaroon
and a Foie Gras wrapped in dried beef. They were all fabulous, but
Samuel oohed and ahhed mostly over the fig and then the tomato.
Next came a salmon toast with corn mousse and smoked salmon--YUM

Will started with the GASPACHO de POMMES de TERRES RATTES which was a
cream-less vichyssoise-like of Fingerling Potatoes Gazpacho that was
poured tableside from a large "test tube" and then accompanied by
Granny Smith Apple puree and toast pieces with oysters and caviar.
My LANGUES d'OURSINS was an amazing creation of a SEA URCHIN Foam over
puree of also GRANNY SMITH APPLES with shaved ice of lemon balm. A
cream/foam of sea urchin was atop this and my toasts had sea urchin
tongues. This was a dish of love and great innovation of cuisine.

A palate cleanser of Peaches in Grenadine ices with coconut mousse and
lemon came next and we all indeed agreed it was a perfect palate
Sadly, the main course arrived less than 10 minutes in total time, and
only seconds after the ices. Our faces drooped, and we mentioned our
disappointment at the speed of service, but it did not seem to help;
communication, despite my pretty good French, was at a minimum.

The menu was enticing and it was hard to decide, but Samuel had chosen
the PORC NOIR de BIGORRE, a shoulder of "black" pork from the south of
France that is very famous, It came with confite and grilled garlic,
glazed vegetables and Cilantro. I have never seen him eat a dish so
entirely (it was huge) and so fast.
I have to say this was a brilliantly tasty dish and some of the best
pork on earth.
The same went for my Roasted VEAL CHOP with Thyme and a Tartine (it
was egg roll shaped, but crusty and flaky) filled with shitake
mushrooms and foie gras. A reduced veal jus was poured on top like
gravy, and only the two tiny potato dumpling like souffle pieces were
not up to the amazing levels of everything else.

Will had the BONITO which was pan seared with Curry Green Pea
Fricassee and Ginger. Another tasty dish, although Will said he could
not detect the curry (I did).

We told the server we would wait about 15 minutes before even looking
at the dessert menu and he finally understood the issue.

Samuel, in his choco mode, ordered the LYCHEE-MILK CHOCOLATE Faux
RAVIOLI with Rose Sorbet after we explained that faux meant fake and
they were made of chocolate. Needless, to say this gastronomic
creation was a huge hit. Will chose four of the ice creams (there are
7 house made ice creams and 7 sorbets to choose from) and loved the
first three:Banana,Cookies and Caramelized Apple Tatin. The Aged Rhum
(a local treat bottled on island, not made here) was not to his taste.
Within seconds our sommeilieuse brought us two complimentary snifters
of local aged Rhum; well, I drank mine!
My dessert was called POMME VERTE-YUZU et Caramel au Beurre Sale which
was a sorbet bombe of yuzu with a green apple coating/shell that fell
off (and was edible) when cracked like and egg. Two small apple stems
(real ones) were at the top making the two apple-shaped treats look
truly realistic. a nice salted caramel was on the side to dip here and

The dessert was followed by a Fresh ark BonBon with a burst of Lemon
Sorbet Inside
which was divine and another hit with Samuel.
Finally, the mignardises arrived in the form of Raspberry Macaroons
(held to the plate with a dab of caramel) which were the perfect
ending, and Samuel did end his meal here. The Banana-Chocolate Tartes
were also divine and finally a Financier of Chocolate and some fruit
(guajaba, maybe) that just did not come across in the French or
translation :-)).

It did not matter, save for the timing error, this was indeed our best
meal on the island such an innovative one, that we will send everyone
here, and return for sure!