French restaurant La Categorie’s new offshoot, neo-brasserie Maison de La Categorie, will be unveiled to the public this Saturday.
Maison will be in Cheongdam-dong, Seoul, an upscale location on the main thoroughfare near Apgujeong Rodeo Station, not too far from La Categorie, which opened in Sinsa-dong in 2011.
La Categorie executive chef Lee Hyung-jun explained the concept of the second brand, Maison, describing it as a spot where “one can get full on one plate.”
Maison de La Categorie’s terrine de campagne (clockwise from bottom left), foie gras terrine, chicken liver pate, potato and duxelle terrine with truffle-anchovy butter, and salmon gravlax (center). (Kim Myung-sub/The Korea Herald)
“We are not a traditional French brasserie,” Lee, who is also acting as executive chef of Maison, said. “We will, however, serve the portions of a traditional brasserie.”
Two years in the making, Maison seems set on differentiating itself from its more formal and experimental cousin, La Categorie, by taking its cue from a storied French dining institution, the brasserie.
Not to be confused with the bistro, the brasserie originated as a sort-of gastropub with Alsatian roots, where beer was produced in-house.
Over time, the microbrewery aspect of the brasserie became less of a must, till one could loosely define a brasserie as a place where patrons could go most any time of day for rib-sticking plates of steak frites, sauerkraut, charcuterie and the like.
While Maison de La Categorie will not be a prototypical brasserie, Lee, 31, said, “We will have charcuterie and plenty of terrines.”
Diners can also expect French classics like coq au vin, steak frites and blanquette de veau.
On the flipside, Lee and team will also be whipping up their take on British Yorkshire pudding, a North African-inspired lamb meatball-couscous tagine and a salad featuring on-trend kale.
Even the dessert menu promises to be equally eclectic, with French creme brulee rubbing shoulders with a riff off the American ice box pie and Spanish churros, and housemade glace in flavors like cinnamon and hazelnut on the same page as soft serve ice cream in milk.
“At La Categorie, I am somewhat experimental,” Le Cordon Bleu Paris alumnus Lee said. “Here, I will be more practical and ever so slightly experimental.”
Lee seems to be referring to the contrast between the more think-outside-the-box-style prix fixe courses at La Categorie versus the somewhat classic collection of a la carte options at Maison, where patrons can mix-and-match and share plates of pork trotters, boudin blanc and duck confit over drinks.
Drinks, as a matter of fact, seem to occupy a large slice of the Maison pie, where, in what appears to be a nod to the brasserie’s brewery roots, one can find a fully-stocked bar on the establishment’s second floor.
On the first floor, a libation-friendly trolley sporting whisky and other tipples promises to keep the conversation and drinks flowing in an interior that leans toward the posh demeanor of a historic Parisian brasserie.
Grey and white geometrically-patterned floors lend a charming Art Deco-style vibe to the space, and shiny dark wood tables and soft, inviting chocolate-hued sofas mingle with chartreuse- and burgundy-cushioned wood chairs inside the large-scale, two-story, 85-seat affair.
“Food is only part of the dining experience,” said Lee.
The 85-seat, two-story neo-brasserie Maison de La Categorie boasts gray-and-white geometrical floors, chocolate-hued sofas and chartreuse- and burgundycushioned chairs for an Art Deco-style dining experience. (Kim Myung-sub/The Korea Herald)
Maison de La Categorie
85 Cheongdam-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul/(02) 545-6640/ www.lacategorie.com
Open 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. for lunch, 2 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. tea time, 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. for dinner
Prices for appetizers range from around 15,000 won to 30,000 won, entrees from around 20,000 won to 30,000 won, meat and seafood from around 30,000 won to 50,000 won, desserts range from around 5,000 won to 20,000 won.
By Jean Oh (firstname.lastname@example.org