La Capital: Excellence and detail in every bite

(Photos: Ameer Khalifeh/Jordan News)
The 5th Circle is dominated by a hotel on each corner; it is hard to miss. A consequence of this is a smaller market share for each hotel and more competition between them — if you don’t stay ahead of the competition you will become irrelevant.اضافة اعلان

The Four Seasons Hotel has been a 5th Circle landmark for as long as I can remember, and in all that time the Four Seasons has not compromised on its service. It is luxury at its best. This might be the first time I mention an establishment’s service before I mention its food; the smiles, gestures, and welcoming at the hotel reflect a true feeling of hospitality.

Hotel restaurants were not a very common destination for lunch or dinner back in the day unless you were actually staying at the hotel. However, I distinctly remember when La Capital opened. People started talking about it to such a degree that it became one of the key features the Four Seasons was known for. This caused a ripple effect across the Amman hotel industry; many of them opened their own signature restaurants to compete. I can say with full confidence that La Capital was a turning point in Jordan’s culinary experience.

As the first floor elevator doors slide open, visitors are greeted with a spacious and elegant European interior. A tasteful décor and marble tables with fine golden lines warmly invite you to a glass of Moet or a lavender mimosa. You will want to leave everything behind and indulge in the restaurant’s culinary journey.

What eventually drew me to La Capital was a Parisian crepe seasonal menu, the crepe Suzette dessert in particular — I will spare you the details until later.
Everything about the experience demonstrated an incredible eye for detail. ...
For those unfamiliar, La Capital is a French-style restaurant that serves both French cuisine and vibrant cocktails. Its seasonal menu changes based on the availability of ingredients to ensure every dish is made with the freshest of ingredients.

We had a few drinks before ordering food. The bartender was friendly, suggesting signature cocktails that might appeal to our palate. The lavender mimosa should not be missed and an Aperol gin cocktail was on another level.

We ordered a variety of dishes from the seasonal menu and promotional Parisian crepe menu.

Everything about the experience demonstrated an incredible eye for detail, from the butter served at room temperature to the smoked salt topping their homemade bread.

We started with a quinoa salad, served with smoked duck breast, crispy camembert cheese,  shaved pear, baby lettuce, macadamia nuts, and orange vinaigrette. Every component of the dish was carefully placed precisely where it was meant to be. The ingredients were oriented around the duck breast, each one elevating the dish as a whole. The camembert, more intense than brie, was fried; the pears were shaved; and the traditional walnuts were swapped out for macadamia. Orange, a tricky flavor to get right in a sauce or dressing lest it overwhelm the dish, balanced the salad well. We were off to an excellent start.

Next came the homemade ravioli stuffed with spinach, pine nuts, Comté cheese, freshly shaved truffles, and sage butter. For those unfamiliar, Comté is a French cheese similar to Swiss Gruyere. It caresses you with fruity and savory aromas and waves of sweet and salty undertones. A wide variety of techniques went into the creation of the dish, from how the pasta was rolled and stuffed, to the smoothness of the sauce itself. Overall, the dish was earthy and well balanced.

One of the two crepes I tried was a traditional crepe made with dark buckwheat flour and served with smoked salmon, watercress, and sour cream. Despite the common ingredients, fresh capers and pickled red onions offered the dish a refreshing sourness. Enough to serve two, the crepe offered a lightness and a full combination of flavors.

With the appetizers out of the way, we ordered steak frites, salmon filet, and lamb loin. Each dish embodied one of my favorite quotes by Chef Marco Pierre White: “Food should be simple; it shouldn’t be complicated.”

Despite the deceptive simplicity of a dish comprised of steak and fries, the presentation of the potatoes elevated the experience. The steak — tender, cooked beautifully medium, and seasoned perfectly — was complimented by a shallot sauce. The fries were sublimely crispy, a feat to accomplish with local potatoes.

The salmon was cooked to flaky perfection, served with creamy quinoa, asparagus, and mushrooms. Simple, creative, and tasty, especially the addition of cream and butter to the quinoa.

Served with creamy asparagus fregola, snow peas, and almond crumble, the lamb loin was incredibly tender. It was cooked at just the right temperature and lacked a strong gaminess. The creamy fregola, a unique, nutty food that falls somewhere between grain and pasta, complemented the lamb, making it a rich, enjoyable dish.
Food should be simple; it shouldn’t be complicated.
It was finally time for my favorite part of every culinary experience: dessert, for which there is always room. We ordered the cherry clafoutis served with Madagascar vanilla ice cream. A clafoutis is France’s favorite homespun dessert, traditionally with cherries, baked in a batter of eggs, milk, and sugar. Most commonly served in the summer, when cherries are in season, the dish’s lightness and sweetness, with the sour kick of the cherries, is only intensified by the ice cream. It is definitely a star that shines brightly in our La Capital experience.

To follow it up we had a vanilla millefeuille, which is served with vanilla bean mousseline, strawberry, and pistachio. What sets La Capital’s millefeuille apart is its modern take on the dough itself. The creaminess of the mousseline and the sweetness of the strawberries made a wonderful dessert. Silence dominated the table as we enjoyed the dish, the telltale sign of excellence at work.

The crepe suzette, consisting of an orange-based sauce served with crepes and topped with vanilla ice cream, was historically a happy accident when chefs set out to impress the prince of Whales. A bottle of Grand Mariner accidentally made its way into the sauce and ignited. The prince was served, and upon tasting the dish dedicated it to a lady at the table: Suzette. La Capital could improve the experience of the dessert by flambéing it tableside; creating a visual delight for patrons and a way to put the staff’s skills on display.

What we tried was only a sampling of what can be discovered at La Capital. Creativity radiates from every dish, and with the passing of every season, and with it the ingredients available, the restaurant is constantly evolving.

I had the privilege of meeting the talented chef behind our experience, and I was impressed with Chef Khaled Ballout, a local. He was more than happy to explain each of his dishes and the level of organization that goes into the operation. His passion for food and mindset oriented towards greatness, simplicity, and elegance was evident across all his dishes.

Many establishments of the same scale have opened at other hotels, but La Capital’s consistency delivers time and time again. Each visit has blown me away. I highly recommend visiting to experience August’s crepe promotion. And don’t forget: the lavender mimosa.

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