29, rue Surcouf (7)
With many exceptions, this Diary skews its restaurant selections toward traditional and classic versus new and modern. If asked, I respond without further thought: I do not enjoy “tweezer” food or otherwise over-intellectualized dishes and combinations. Yet sometimes (Astrance, see 16th), if done exceptionally well, such menus can at once astonish and please. For sure, Restaurant David Toutain is such an exception.
A small, sparsely decorated space in a restaurant–heavy short block in a restaurant–heavy section of the 7th near the Invalides, 25 or so seats on 2 levels, plus an adjacent small event space accessed separately seating up to 18.
No choice, only wine pairings or not. The dishes keep coming, 12 or more, heavy on vegetable combinations, most 2-3 bites. After 2½ hours some lag at the end as the room begins to empty, but never a lag in the mystery of the preparation or the inventiveness of the ingredient combinations.
We should have taken notes, or like everyone else, joined in the rudeness of picture-taking. Yet even with pictures, which would be good to capture the beautifully designed plates and bowls and the detail and care of the plating, full recall would be difficult. Beets, white and green asparagus, smoked eel, egg, cod, duck breast, strawberries and chocolate dominated eight of the dishes, but to mention a primary ingredient doesn’t begin to do justice to the beauty of the preparation or the remarkable tastes. Even the breads (focaccia, brioche roll, peasant loaf) were paired with specific dishes.
In the main dining room, 22 guests and 7 servers and runners; approachable, young, bilingual, knowledgeable about what was being offered.
Simple: 110€, the only choice available for dinner. With wines, 40€ more. With “prestige” wines, 180€. At lunch, smaller meals available, but not many seats available. For the result and the effort which went into it, a bargain.