Best Thing We Ate

Mysterious New Baumé Menu Uses Pine, Lobster

By Tamara Palmer  |  January 17, 2014
Credit: Tamara Palmer

Baumé, a modern, upscale French restaurant in Palo Alto, unveils a new winter tasting menu this week. Chef/owner Bruno Chemel begins this eight-course affair ($198, including service) with an amuse bouche​ that he says is a welcome to the season reminiscent of celebrating Mardi Gras in his native France. There, beignets of all occasions mark the holiday, so Chemel is presenting a pair of light beer-battered savory beignets to begin the meal. One features a parsley and tofu filling and is topped with ras el hanout, a North African spice blend, while the other contains a pine-infused Béchamel sauce. The inspiration from the latter comes from the town where the restaurant is located. "Where I am [there] is a lot of pine," he says with a pronounced French accent, "so I smell it constantly."

As with all tastings at the restaurant, the dishes to follow arrive with an element of surprise. The menu lists only main ingredients for each course, with no clues as to their combinations or preparations. As such, we can't reveal too much about the current menu, but we can pass on a few bits of teaser intel: Chemel is currently using ultra-premium ingredients such as the rare Brittany blue lobster, Osetra caviar, black Perigord truffles, and turbot, a flatfish from the French coastal island of Noirmoutier.