Dinner at AM par Alexandre MAZZIA
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AM is the creation of Alexandre Mazzia. The restaurant is tiny, with a kitchen so small that many domestic kitchens are bigger. It contains 24 seats of which there are 5 counter seats where you basically sit right on the pass.
Mr. Mazzia was born and raised in Congo and claims to be still influenced by his childhood experience.
The menu is composed differently than in other restaurants as he always has six servings and the diner just chooses how many little plates each serving contains.
I, of course, went for the jugular and the pricey (€380) biggest menu. This contains 36(!) small dishes grouped together in what seems to be a random order of 6 servings.
I have been at AM before a few times but for obvious reasons not in the last three years. Mr. Mazzia has not only developed but made a quantum leap. This is so far the meal of the year (276 as of the end of October, not counting any meals in Ryokans where I stayed overnight) and given the advance state of the year, maybe it will stay that way.
His compositions are bold while at the same time delicate. The layering of flavors is sometimes subtle and sometimes aggressive. The execution is always flawless, which is a feat when serving 36 dishes. But most of all the combination of ingredients and thus flavors is simply stunning. Dishes like Goosefoot in tempura-vodka, pike roe, chili, shell dust or Seaweed, sweet potato ointment, licorice, bottarga sound like they could never work but they do. Very much so.
Mr. Mazzia does all of this in a tiny little kitchen with three other cooks while chatting with the regulars who are of course placed at the counter. To churn out such a kitchen this number of dishes for 24 dinners is by itself an accomplishment, but doing it at such a quality and tastiness beggars belief.
The front of the house is very competent in being able to explain all dishes. It is quite an accomplishment to be able to announce what must be hundreds of ingredients during the whole meal.
There is a champagne, wine, sake and non alcoholic pairing available which gets managed by the team flexible depending on the speed of drinking.
All together this makes not for a good, but a great meal. I cannot wait to go back. It truly is worth a journey.