35 rue Bergere (9)
The restaurant was recommended by a very knowledgeable food friend as his new favorite. He described it as honest, and without pretense. He was right on both, and that the sophistication of the food belied the space and the address in the 9th. But that is not the full story.
There must be hundreds of similarly serious, chef-driven small spots in Paris, restaurants which have settled into their neighborhoods owned by talented, but once more ambitious and perhaps more optimistic chefs hoping for wider discovery. Instead, they come to work every day running marginal small businesses, no longer hoping for discovery by critics, or in this case, even by “Zagat”.
The inventive 40€ formula menu offers unusual dishes, each unique and personal. All of this is undermined by the overly lit, tired and barely decorated small room with 28 tightly spaced seats. Charming it is not. Nor particularly inviting. I guess you are meant to bring your own.
The menu and execution are the highlights of the experience. Except for the concert of serving each of our dishes from a bowl (which we are seeing elsewhere in Paris too), the plates look good, sound complex and prove both delicious and unusual.
First courses of slow cooked whole chicken served warm and served with pineapple chutney and confit of cepes with salad, monkfish over caramelized leeks and wonderful stuffed cabbage with chestnuts. Desserts were roast figs with chocolate sauce and ice cream, stewed plum with plum gele and sherbet.
Friendly, helpful, bilingual waiter with well-meaning but inexperienced assistant.
40€ for 3 courses, plus a few supplements (meaning 45€/person), plus modestly priced wines. 155€ for 2.