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Caviar bar & Restaurant
American Dream Cuisine™
Restaurant: Caviar Bar & Restaurant
St. Petersburg - Russia
6 Stars & 7 Stripes
Society - World Level Perfection
December - 2005
6 Stars & 7 Stripes
Cuisine & Service

The Ultimate Award:
Seven Stars and Stripes™
Walking into the Caviar Bar for our much anticipated cuisine review of Executive Chef Dominique Ferchaud's 'nouvelle cuisine' was accompanied by the powerful allure of 'déjà vu'. During the previous night's deep and restful sleep, a recurring dream conjured up visions of opulence and regal majesty reminiscent of the long ago period of Czarist times. The central figure in my dream seemed destined to successfully offer up creative and tasty cuisine in an atmosphere only a Royal Family could appreciate. I tried looking around inconspicuously in every direction as we entered this dream world in order to validate my vivid recollections of the previous night. "It was here. . . !" I mumbled hoping all the while that someone would thankfully agree. It was Arno our photographer who cast a controlled glance back at me while shaking his head in disbelief. "Why are you talking to yourself?" he whispered as we were being shown to our table. Rather than answer Arno, I simply smiled reassuringly at our Maitre D' Dimitri as he held the chair while waiting for me to be seated.

"It was here," I said again, this time to Arno, ". . this is the place in my dream last night!" Arno still shaking his head quickly buried himself in the menu that was just handed to him. As attentive servers graciously placed napkins on our laps, I made mental notes of how elegant all the tables in the restaurant looked with candles lit and condiments perfectly aligned. I took some time as I listen intently to the three-piece ensemble performing selections of seemingly world-class Russian opera arias. It all fit nicely into my notion of the previous night's surreal event and I became more and more convinced that we were now in for a remarkable experience at the hands of Master Chef Dominique Ferchaud. It was an icy cold bottle of homemade Russian vodka flavored with exotic fruits that brought me out of my dream and into the present. Quick reactions by Dimitri anticipated the next move and before Arno could grab the bottle, he poured a small shot for me all the while still in doubt of my sanity and repeating "You need this" several times as if it were our secrete mantra. There were of course other choices as the Russian mind is not satisfied with mediocrity and so were placed several additional ornately 'etched' crystal decanters filled with various types of vodka. My personal favorite notwithstanding the exotic fruit flavored selection that brought me out of my dream, was vodka laced with garlic. It goes without saying that I especially liked the 'health' benefits of garlic and began to pay tribute to the incredible medicinal properties.
Four types of house made breads including ciabatta and whole grain, were placed on the table along with very creamy butter in the shape of billiard balls and flavored with paprika, garlic and dill. I made it a point to continue looking around all the while absorbing the ambiance that indirect lighting creates in well placed locations. Menus were removed as Dimitri approached the table to announce the arrival of the 'Amuse Bouche' as a sort of greetings from the kitchen of Chef Ferchaud and his capable team. This is always a pleasant way of 'setting the stage' and teasing the palate into anticipating good things to come. The opening salvo was the Chilled Fish Soup with Coconut & Coriander topped with Crispy Shrimp, reflecting Chef Ferchaud's mastery of a real Russian tradition of soup-making influenced by years spent in the Middle East, Southeast Asia and the Caribbean. L'Europe - Cuisine
We also had the pleasure of sampling Kamchatka Crab Meat with Baltic Smoked Salmon served with Seaweed & Olive Oil Dressing. It is unique in flavor and texture with a resemblance to very meaty lobster although this particular preparation paired with smoked salmon over seaweed brought out the delicate nature to its fullest potential. A bottle of Sancerre Henri Bourgeois, 2001 worked well to compliment the seafood with an enchanting crisp, fresh medium body, alive with citrus peel and floral notes.
L'Europe - Cuisine Our impression at this stage was elevated by the continued attention to detail of the cuisine and impeccable service provided by Dimitri and his staff. In fact, our suspicions were confirmed during dinner after I dropped my napkin while making my way to the washroom and it was immediately replaced upon my return, fresh and folded on my lap. Plates were cleared with white gloves and preparations were in swing for the intermezzo of Plum & Armagnac Sorbet. Needless to say, Dimitri had a very good memory about our experience at the first cuisine review. We had noted that the sorbet served with Pernod was 'a little overpowering' and dutifully provided only a few drops of 18-year-old Armagnac to flavor the otherwise refreshing sorbet, thereby making a marked improvement over the last attempt.
After the intermezzo, one of the most important events of any review, we were sufficiently rested and prepared for the entrée. Grilled Veal Filet with Artichoke Confit, Candied Shallot and Garlic with Thyme in a Winter Truffle Sauce (Please take a closer look) arrived in front of me as I continued sipping the never-ending flow of Russian Standard Vodka. Although vodka in Russian culture is held in high regard, it has become apparent that the taste for good European wines has increased in recent years and the Caviar Bar provides a top shelf collection assembled after years of research and collection. An appropriate bottle of Château de Marsannay, 2000 Les Clos de Jeu offered up a terrific sense of satisfaction and structure, which allowed it to support the meat dish without overpowering it. At first whiff it produced red fruits of raspberry and cherry along with a light smoky oak on the palate. Once swirled along the edges of the tongue, distinct earthiness and fine tannins unite in elegant fashion.
Our second entrée of Roasted Angus Beef Tenderloin with Seared Spinach and Mushrooms, Potato Millefeuille in Rosemary & Port Wine Sauce caused quite a stir at our table. Here we were in Russia being catered to by an accomplished French master chef and we are looking at his interpretation of an American icon, the Black Angus beef. Chef Ferchaud's rendition decidedly exceeded our expectations in every respect. The beef was perfectly 'rose pink' in the center after I purposely sliced down the middle with my butter knife. The aroma of the earthy chanterelles lying over the seared spinach reminded me that we were in the presence of greatness in the making. It seemed the perfect harmony for mind and body. L'Europe - Cuisine
Ever present Dimitri scurried around our table at times filling our glasses, at times instructing his team as to the precise moments of when to interact with us in some productive way. Plates were cleared along with all silverware as the table was being crumbed and prepared for the final course. New utensils were replaced from a napkin-lined plate with white gloves and tea or coffee was offered. Russians pride themselves on their long history of tea drinking although I thought the coffee to be intense and flavorful in keeping with the great roasts of Western European coffee houses.
L'Europe - Cuisine We were now presented with a dessert of Roasted Pineapple with Chocolate Gingerbread and Strawberry Cappuccino with Grand Marnier. There before us came a very creative tempting ensemble of shapes, textures and distinct flavors arranged in artful fashion just begging to be sampled. All in all dessert seemed rather complete until Dimitri returned with a bottle of Calvados XO. As he poured the powerful liquid into our brandy snifters, we relished the pure clean very Cognac-like aroma and upon sipping noticed how smooth and peppery it was on our palates. I couldn't think of a better way to match the roasted tropical fruit over zesty chocolate gingerbread. Talk about chcocolate...
All NEW are Ferchaud Chocolates; Executive Chef and Chocolatier Dominique Ferchaud is producing the finest hand created 'Made in Russia' confections imparting chocolate lovers with his treat from every part of the world. Ferchaud has raised the bar on the meaning of 'Swiss' chocolate artistry. The Grand Hotel Europe's Confectionery is a chocolate lover's heaven! They offer a diversity of mouth-watering dark and milk chocolates, dreadfully sinful truffles, and fabulous fudges. All chocolates are handmade, hand filled, and hand finished. It was rather recently that Ferchaud and GM Noll came up with the idea of producing a world chocolate brand producing superb chocolates in creative, deliberately delicate forms like Butterflies. The only suggesting I have for the master chocolatier is to present his rather dark delicacies on a light color laced plate. I am certain my wife would have experienced the great death by chocolate if she had been able to join me.
“Ferchaud’s dedication to excellence is prevailing, once again.” ~ TB
Ferchaud's Chocolates are just asking for comparison with Godiva, Neuchatel or Lindt. While Ferchaud's Butterflies are artfully irreplaceable to eat he is retaining the essential fundamental chocolate flavors that often get lost with these types of delicate creations. The packaging alone will excite not only those that are guests at Grand Hotel Europe, as I can see a line of chocolate addicts filing out of the door once the message has gone out. Russia is now open for true gourmet chocolate business. We were the first to see and taste the finished products. The elegant packaging is putting this high-society confection over the edge! I am honored.
“A Chocolate Star is born!” ~ TB
Ferchaud Chocolates
Please take a closer look
"Onward and upward" I heard Arno say as he moved from the table toward the Lobby and Piano Bar. It was the seductive sounds of live piano and violin music beckoning us sit for a while and absorb the provocative performance of the alluring ensemble. It was time to give thanks to Chef Dominique Ferchaud and his competent team along with Maitre D' Dimitri and all our servers, especially Victor who quietly performed his duties unobtrusively and efficiently.
by Thorsten Buehrmann & Arno Goudschaal

Editor: Ingrid Lemme,

Editor-in-Chief: John Lomitola
© 2006 ~ Seven Stars and Stripes, Inc.

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Although the above information was accurate at the time of publication, it can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all pertinent information with the companies in question before planning your trip.

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