The Tasting Room - International (City of Dreams)+ Back

Maven's score

Location: City of Dreams, Cotai Strip
              Crown Hotel, 3rd Floor
Telephone Number: (853) 8868 6681
Business Hours: 12:00 pm - 3:00 pm
                          6:00 pm - 11:00 pm  *Closed on Sundays
Price Range: $$$
 

In 2017, the Macau and Hong Kong dining scenes were rocked when two Michelin star chefs suddenly switched cities and kitchens, with the Tasting Room’s Guillaume Galliot bolting for Hong Kong and Caprice, while Fabrice Vulin came back the other way.  Mr Galliot had built the Tasting Room from the ground up into a two star venue, while Mr. Vulin had similar success at Caprice, winning the Best New Chef award by Tatler magazine in 2015.  I was initially very disappointed to hear of Mr Galliot’s departure as I had been trumpeting the Tasting Room for years, calling it the city’s best fine dining venue bar none and the only one you should be frequenting for special meals and occasions.  I was naturally worried that the new iteration would be a shell of its former self, leaving Macau suddenly bereft of proper French dining options. 

 

  

It turns out I had nothing to worry about!  The Tasting Room is in very good hands with Mr Vulin and hasn’t taken a step back in the least, and in fact, might have even gotten better.  Visiting in September 2017, I tried the 5 course set lunch for $688 (now $788!), a phenomenal price when you consider the prestige of the chef and how expensive dishes on the a la carte menu are.  FYI, there’s also a 3 course option available for $488, which comes with one appetizer or soup, one main and one cheese or dessert.


Here are the dishes I selected with help from the waiter: Pate en Croute, Duck Fois Gras from Challans Pistachios and Black Truffle, Garden Salad and Cold Pea Soup, Red Mullet “Barbet” with Artichoke Consommé, Salers Beef with Potato Gnocchi and Girolles, and a selection of desserts from the pastry cart.

 


Naturally the meal started with amuse bouche, the mouth amuser, to tease the tongue and get it in the mood; in this case, a wonderful oyster caviar pairing.  The Duck Fois Gras Pate, which took two days to make, came out next and was absolutely superb.  Neither oily nor dry, it was deep, textured and nuanced; pure bliss from start to finish, the way eating soft luscious fat so often is, I suppose.  The only dish that was subpar followed - a cold pea soup that was poured on top of a rather plain forgettable salad.  Nowhere near the level of the others, I should have overruled the waiter and gone with something else, since I’ve never really understood the point of serving soup cold. 

 


After that brief interruption, the meal got right back on track with the next two dishes, both of which were as sublime as the pate.  Every chef in the world needs to try the Red Mullet Barbet in Artichoke Consommé and then look in the mirror and wonder why they’re not worthy.  A pairing of the highest order, the way the pronounced flavours of the soup blended with the delicate fish was simple perfection.  And what more can be said about the Salers Beef, which was served with Potato Gnocchi and Girolles - and yes, I’m going to rave about the potatoes too, which were utterly amazing, and that’s something I’ve never done in any review ever written on the history of this site.  Biting into the beef was like tap dancing into oblivion, where senses are stripped and you’re just one with the universe and the moment.  When food can transport you to that kind of place, you know you’ve reached the pinnacle..


If there’s one thing that clear from my set lunch, it’s that the Tasting Room hasn’t suffered in any way from the chef swap.  Fabrice Vulin is a bad man with bad intentions, and it’s possible he may finally get the Tasting Room over the hump with their third Michelin star.  Be on the right side of history with this one and give him a try.  I’m confident you won’t be disappointed.


If you're interested in learning how I fell in love with the Tasting Room in the first place, please read about my birthday dinner there during Trip Report II.