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Review: Noyan Tun, An Oasis of French Cuisine

Beef Tenderloin with 4 Pepper Sauce

My father’s brother and his family are in town. They are important people in my life who I love and naturally, I wanted to take them to one of Yerevan’s best restaurants on their first night in town so that they come away with a great impression of the city when they leave next week. I know of two restaurants that are considered to be the créme de la créme of fine dining: Noyan Tun and Provence. Both of them feature French cuisine as the heart of the menu. We decided to give Noyan Tun a try.

Noyan Tun was a bit closer to the Hyatt where they’re staying and I have only heard high praise for the place. It’s in the basement of a wine shop that I’ve visited time and again over the course of the last 10 years. Now, my relatives are gourmands, they know exactly what to look for when dining out. They’ve lived around the world from New York to Johannesburg and they expect nothing but the best when it’s time to chow down. They never hold back on their opinions, no matter how harsh. My aunt takes great pride in her palate for exceptional wine, and while she’s in town she wants to sample as much domestically produced vintages as possible. They were last here in 2007 when the pickings for quality Armenian wines were very slim. Vinegary crap, basically.

The menu I noticed was heavy on salads and appetizers, including foie gras made locally especially for the restaurant. Foie gras is not what I occasionally eat. Something about force feeding geese to enlarge their livers for my enjoyment always rubbed me the wrong way (which I admit is hypocritical since I eat meats without discrimination). The foie gras nevertheless was both creamy and fatty but firm; imagine a rich, nutty butter served at room temperature. I’m no expert on pâté but it was indeed very nice.

At the waitress’s suggestion, a wonderful salad of grilled vegetables rolled in fresh pasta sarma-style topped with a balsamic glaze and and slab of goat cheese was brought out with a lovely pesto sauce, which was lightly poured on each plate at table by the waitress. Just a delight to taste.

pasta salad
Rolled Fresh Pasta with Grilled Vegetables and Goat Cheese

Then the entrées were served. My uncle ordered the lamb shank prepared with a sauce made from espresso, which looked fabulously dark, like a high-end dark chocolate gelato, and he had no complaints. My cousin ordered the duck breast, cooked medium rare, served with roasted potatoes and shredded portobello mushrooms, which confounded all of us at first until we inquired as to what the seaweed-like stuff was.

Duck Breast with Roasted Potatoes

My aunt and I selected the grilled tenderloin of beef, cooked a perfect medium rare. Despite the standard fancy steak knives that are serrated starting at the tip and running only about an inch down the blade, the meat cut like butter and dissolved on my tongue the same way. She complained that her cut was a bit tough but I was more fortunate. Mine came with a fantastic four pepper sauce, each berry bursting spicy peppery goodness around my mouth. It was served with a vegetable melange and Lyonnaise potatoes.

Afterwards a platter of assorted cheeses was served as we downed the second bottle of the Karas white. It was hands down one of the best dining experiences I’ve had in Yerevan, in large part due to my family’s presence. The dinner will set you back a bit, but it’s worth every dram.

Overall Rating: Superb

Quality of Service: Superb

Persona of Service: Superb

Presentation of Food: Superb

Flavor of Food: Not bad/Superb

Decor: Superb

Cleanliness: Not bad/Superb (Note: I did not enter the restroom)