18, rue Fabert (7)
This old, established fish restaurant facing the Esplanade in the 7th has just been reopened by the chef/owner of Hexagone (see 16th Arr.).
It had been closed for several years following the retirement of its previous owner/chef, M. Divellec. Now expanded into what was an adjacent boutique and exquisitely redone, it remains a high-priced, serious restaurant, but no longer fussy, unfriendly and self-important, what I recall from several visits to the original years ago and before this Diary. But, like all fish specialists in Paris (Ecailler may be a rare exception, see 11th Arr. or Helen at lunch, see 8th Arr.), the a la carte menu offered at lunch and dinner is very expensive.
Unfortunately as applies to a broad review, our meal was a special 49€ weekend brunch, a stand-out bargain compared to the normal menu, but not sufficient for a definitive opinion.
The brunch itself was plentiful, unique and indicative of the care, plating and artful execution which also distinguishes the a la carte menu, as it also does the lunch menu at Hexagone.
Fresh juice, a basket of warm breakfast pastries with two types of butter and jams and coffee, then a beautiful plate of thinly sliced and dressed fish crudo and a half bagel with herbed French cream cheese, avocado and seared tuna, along with a boiled egg to which a sauce had been added. For dessert, a bowl of sliced strawberries with strawberry sherbet served with a pastry shortbread topped with fraises du bois. 49€ all in!
At a follow up dinner a few months later, all of the good things remain, but as predicted, at very high prices. The a la carte dinner menu offers a broad range of enticing entrees. Main courses consist of prepared dishes and whole fish sold by the kilo, for simple preparation. Plus a 282€ tasting menu and various caviar-themed menus, even more expensive.
But also a 90€ “Discovery Menu”. No choice and delicious. Hard to call it a bargain except relatively, and relatively it was, and wonderful.
A beautiful plate of paper thin slices of fish crudo, followed by tuna pastilla, almost raw tuna seasoned with middle eastern spices and wrapped in a single sheet of phyllo, the entire thick disk browned on a plancha. This was followed by John Dory fillets with tiny clams over Jerusalem artichokes in a light foam. For dessert, oranges with chestnut sorbet. A beautiful meal with a 70€ wine happily chosen by the sommelier from a generally much more expensive list. It was a top meal and a top notch experience.
Formal, friendly without a lot of small talk. Bilingual.
The brunch is a virtual giveaway. The offered a la carte menu tells a different story. Three courses +/- 125€, plus drinks.