November 13, 2019
Paris may now be one of the most underrated restaurant cities in the world. Everyone talks about Spain, about Copenhagen, about Los Angeles, and while it’s true that there was a moment – 10 or 15 years ago – when Paris restaurants started seeming really old-fashioned (especially compared to the new young energy everywhere else,) at this moment, it’s on fire.
During a long weekend in Paris I ate some of the most exciting food I’ve encountered anywhere.
Case in point: Maison. Sota Atsumi, who was the chef at Clown Bar, has opened this serene space with an open kitchen where you can watch the chefs cooking in the wood-burning oven and grilling over a hibachi. There are just a few widely spaced tables, and the sound level is just about perfect.
The 55 euro lunch may be one of the better restaurant bargains in the world right now.
Our meal began with an array of tiny tartlettes:
beet and haddock; comte cheese with pumpkin,; onion, hazelnut and smoked ricotta.
A curl of delicate raw yellowtail with tomato water, capers and tarragon
Gently charred rouget with a little compote of mussels, leeks, sweet peppers and herbs
A pithiviers of duck with foie gras and a quince compote and a side dish of beets, turnips and daikon
Even the cheeses were special – a local goat, fresh from the farm, fourme d’ambert and the most amazing “black brie” from a local farmer. This is brie that has grown up, gained savvy, gotten tough.
Hazelnut Paris-Brest – with the most seductive caramelized apples with a little nub of vanilla ice cream flavored with Calvados.
Maybe it’s because all of this food was so exactly to my taste – but it is hard for me to imagine a more perfect meal. And equally hard to imagine how you could possibly get this in New York for $55, tax and tip included.
I loved the food at Semilla too – a more relaxed, less ambitious restaurant where every dish is carefully conceived and beautifully plated.
A small blue-fish, marinated, with tangerine, crisp fennel and radishes.
The loveliest beet salad – beets of many colors surrounded a beet granita, with green mayonnaise and fresh cheese.
Salad of different radishes with tarama, trout roe and satsuma tangerines.
Risotto with cepes and white wine.
Bonito, simply steamed in a bed of bok choi – really light.
And to go with everything, the amazingly delicious Bandol Blanc from Domaine Tempier. We floated out the door.
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