Tried & Tested

Restaurant Check: Pierre Gagnaire à Seoul

28 Feb 2010
FIRST IMPRESSIONS Few restaurants around the world bear the name of the three-star Michelin French chef and this eponymous restaurant at Lotte Hotel Seoul is one of them. (The others are found in Paris, Tokyo, Hongkong at the Mandarin Oriental hotel, the InterContinental Dubai Festival City and the Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas.) Pierre Gagnaire à Seoul opened in October 2008 after 14 months of preparation and eight months of large-scale renovation, and with the hotel investing KRW7 billion (US$6.05 million) in the brand import, menu consulting and staff training. The restaurant is located on the 35th floor of the New Wing, replacing the Schoenbrunn European restaurant and bar, which was part of the hotel’s massive facelift. Celebrated interior designer Oliver Gagnère created the look of the restaurant, theming it after the Palace of Versailles’ secret garden. The main dining room seats 38 people, with some tables placed by the window allowing one to get a good view of Bukhan mountain and downtown Seoul. Four private rooms cater for a total capacity of 34 guests. THE FOOD The four-course set lunch comes in three portions (menu déjeuner, gourmet rapide and gourmet discovery), and for dinner, there is a gastronomic tasting menu. À la carte is also available. Menus are changed every two months. We arrived in time for lunch and so opted for the four-course set, which included an amuse bouche to tickle our appetite and a main of red mullet or duck fillet. Chef Gagnaire is known for his adventurous cooking style and it came as no surprise that my roasted duck fillet was a delight, drizzled with a fruity blackcurrant caramel and complemented by shallot marmalade with black pepper and grilled potato purée. DRINKS The wine list is extensive, with about 270 different wine types served by the glass or bottle. The selection consists of not just French, but also wines from Chile, Argentina, Europe and Australia. SERVICE The staff made sure our food came quickly but at the right intervals, allowing us to savour every moment of the dining experience. VERDICT The portions were adequate and the food presentation was simple yet pleasing to the eye. Bon appétit! PRICES From KRW80,000 (US$69) for lunch and KRW220,000 (US$190) for dinner, excluding drinks. CONTACT Lotte Hotel Seoul, 1 Sogong-dong, 35F New Wing, Jung-gu, Seoul, tel 82 2 317 7181, www.lottehotel.com OPENING HOURS 12 noon-3pm and 6pm-10pm Monday-Friday, 6pm-10pm Saturday, closed on Sunday and public holidays Julian Tan    
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