Fontainebleau is a relatively small town outside of Paris. Some tourists take the shortish (~40 minute) train ride out to Fontainebleau to visit the famous chateau in this city. When I visited Fontainebleau, I decided to dine at L’axel for lunch, which has one Michelin star. Because I wasn’t sure about my schedule, I just walked into the restaurant without a reservation, but I walked in pretty late in the afternoon, and it was not the busy tourist season.
For lunch, they offer their full tasting menu, a shorter menu, and a lunch menu. I decided to go with the menu gastronome, which is their medium-length menu at lunch (this seemed to be the most common choice at lunch the day I was there).
Up first was a couple of small bites: a beet and mussel tart, a kabocha squash puree, and a spoon with smoked salmon. Each of these bites was fine, but nothing special. The best smoked salmon I’ve ever had (and one of the most perfect bites of food I’ve ever had) was at Willows Inn on Lummi Island (Washington state).
The bread service was solid. I love me a good bread service (why don’t more airlines have better bread?). The butter could have been served closer to room temperature, but I loved that they provided salt with the butter since salt is key to unlocking the amazingness that is butter.
The amuse bouche was a foie gras flan with herring eggs and a smoky foam. This was pretty delicious.
I’ll mention that one of the servers was quite good and spoke very good English (those are two separate facts). The rest of the wait staff defaulted to French, which I mostly understand, but it’s not a restaurant where all of the wait staff are comfortable conversing in English.
My first course was described as a daikon millefeuille with crab salad. There were a lot of things on this plate, and while everything tasted good, the components didn’t feel additive to me.
My main course was sesame-crusted duck, served with sweet potatoes, beets, bok choy, and a raspberry vinaigrette. This was a pretty heavy and sweet dish (the sweetness coming from the sweet potatoes, beets, and vinaigrette). I’d imagine that most other people would like this dish, but it wasn’t my favorite.
The final savory course was a take on a cheese course. 1000-day old gouda served on top of a salad. I’m generally not a cheese person, but this was absolutely delicious.
The first dessert was a vanilla wanna cotta with jellied apples, a poppy flower mousse, and… pop rocks. Okay, they might not have been actual pop rocks, but they were some sort of carbonated candy that made the same mouth sensation. I’ve encountered pop rocks in dessert a number of times now in fine dining restaurants, and while it’s fun, it feels a bit gimmicky to me.
Dessert #2 had a lot going on, but it was tasty. There’s apple, orange salad, avocado mousse, green tea, pastry cream, sorbet, praline, and pastry here.
Finally, there were some petit fours to end the meal.
Overall, the meal took about two hours, and I thought that the pacing was good. For 52 euro, I felt that this was a pretty good deal for this quality of food and service, especially given the current exchange rate. I wouldn’t hesitate to go back if I found myself in Fontainebleau again.