7, rue Tronchet (8)
This is a very small, very expensive, very special restaurant. Tasting menu only, 6 course or 9 at dinner. No choice except for meat course (beef, squab or sweetbreads). Very small portions, each served and plated with whimsy and complete originality. But that is just the food part of the story.
Steps from the Etoile, walk into what looks like the cocktail lounge, greeted by black-clad hostess. It is the restaurant. That is all there is. Nine tables, 20 or so guests, maximum. Open kitchen. The hostess is one of four servers, all of whom, taking their cues from the extroverted young chef, bring humor and infectious informality to their work. That spirit animates the restaurant, making what could be a somber temple to 2-star cuisine into a relaxed, enjoyable experience. Until the check!
As of Fall, 2017, new address, new space. Now in the 8th. Not yet reopened.
Extraordinary, unique. Small portions, some with multiple sub-courses. Yet not an over-filling meal, preceded by 5 separate amuse-bouche (hors d’oeuvres). Several courses characterized by humor. A lobster tail appears in a specimen jar. Out comes a teapot. Ginger broth is poured over, left 3 minutes, then extracted with tweezers and placed in a bowl over mussels and seaweed. Delicate red mullet served with crispy quinoa over Greek yogurt. Squab breast roasted in chocolate beans, dug out from a covered terrine. Clever, but in every course, great food.
Polished-looking, but unpolished – and intentionally so according to the chef. Unlike so many equally accomplished Paris counterparts, not possible to feel intimidated or out of place. They do their jobs well, but serve as the deliberate spirit-lifters of the restaurant.
High, but fair. So-called 6 course had 14 separate services, 130€. Four course 100€. Appropriate wine list. Our choice 110€. With coffee, aperitifs, 435€. Not an everyday experience, but without equal in the U.S.