Chef Jongwon Son's vision for the place is to offer visitors an experience akin to the joy found in an amusement park, a temporary escape from the routines of daily life.
Situated on the 26th floor of L'Escape Hotel, L'Amant Secret, translating to "secret lover" in French, offers an intimate atmosphere inspired by Parisian sensibilities. Renowned French designer Jacques Garcia has artfully encapsulated the ambiance of Lescape Hotel in a vivid and romantic Belle-Epoque style. The interior features walls adorned in a striking red hue, adorned with the works of Choi Lala, a renowned artist known for capturing subjects from behind. Each table is adorned with red roses on white tablecloths, creating an atmosphere where even distant relationships inspire hushed conversations.
Opened in 2019, L’Amant Secret quickly earned a Michelin one-star rating. The restaurant's guiding motto is "evolve," exemplified in its contemporary French cuisine. A notable dish that embodies this philosophy is "caviar and eggs," a seemingly simple combination elevated by unique plating and attention to detail.
Chef Jongwon Son, who gained culinary expertise in the United States, strives to create a distinctive style he calls Korean-style Western cuisine. He leads two Michelin-starred establishments. In addition to L’Amant Secret - a contemporary French restaurant at L’Escape Hotel, he oversees Eatanic Garden, an innovative Korean restaurant situated at the Josun Palace Hotel in Yeoksam-dong. While these two venues exhibit distinct colors and personalities, they share a common thread of exceptional perfection.
Here at L'Amant Secret, his modern interpretations blend local ingredients with Western cooking techniques, resulting in dishes that are both innovative and familiar. This approach reflects a deep respect for the harmony between producers and ingredients, as well as the symbiotic relationship between the kitchen and the diner.
The chef's vision for the place is to offer visitors an experience akin to the joy found in an amusement park, a temporary escape from the routines of daily life. Amidst serving French-based contemporary dishes, he infuses wit throughout the dining experience. Truffle dishes, for instance, are accompanied by entertaining performances, such as a video presentation showcasing a dog unearthing truffles in a basket. Street food from Myeong-dong is ingeniously reinterpreted into bite-sized delights.
A unique feature of the L’Amant Secret menu is the inclusion of the names of all patrons. The day's menu is revealed by opening a red envelope, reminiscent of a secret lover's gesture. Starting with a pop-up card titled "Petite L'Amant Secret" and accompanied by small, delicately crafted dishes, Chef Son's style becomes evident from the very first bite.
The rooftop garden of the restaurant
The menu's 'Small Bites from a Secret Garden' incorporates herbs cultivated in a rooftop garden. Utilizing compost made from capsule coffee grounds, the garden, though not accessible to regular patrons, is occasionally glimpsed through staff's Instagram posts. The culinary approach is characterized by intricate, detailed cooking and decorative plating akin to jewelry craftsmanship. It goes beyond mere deliciousness, evolving into an artful presentation of fine dining.
An emblem of L’Amant Secret's motto "Evolve" is the egg and caviar dish. The dish is served in a manner allowing diners to customize each element to their taste, offering a luxurious experience. From scooping caviar to sipping champagne, every element, including savory eggs, herbal oil, and various garnishes, can be mixed and matched in multiple combinations.
The restaurant's house-baked bread is complemented by two outstanding butters. The green butter, infused with herbs from the secret rooftop garden, imparts a lightness to the indulgence.
The warm fish and meat dishes exhibit a delicate touch, presented on exquisite plates by French ceramic artist Jacques Pergay. The Fleur collection, acquired by Chef Son during his 2018 visit to Paris, features naturalistic yet elegant white porcelain that enhances the visual appeal of the food. The main courses and desserts strike a harmonious balance of flavors.
Dessert offerings change seasonally, and during this visit, the focus was on sour rubav. A rubav tart and kirsch cream were accompanied by yogurt sorbet and rubav ice cream. The concluding course, 'Goodbye Kiss,' featured four chocolates, cleverly continuing the theme of a secret lover until the very end.