19 rue de la Fontaine au Roi (11)
It might have been months or longer before we would have ever heard of the 3 month old wine-focused restaurant Vantre, except for a personal recommendation from a New York-based friend, a young wine expert, experienced and well-fed beyond his years. Although his taste is often more cutting-edge and less traditional than mine, we agree on Vantre.
The bilingual French and French-Canadian team which opened Vantre came from the 3-Michelin star Epicure at the Hotel Bristol. The chef returned from 5 years of travel after opening his own Paris restaurant. Marco Pelletier, the senior member, was sommelier at the Bristol and before that at Taillevent.
Their space on a quiet street in the 11th is high-ceilinged and spare, with 15 or so marble-topped tables. Highly personal modern dishes from a constantly changing daily a la carte menu. For the scale of the restaurant, a vast wine list across a broad price range. A very proud team, earnest and professional.
A la carte. Four choices in each category. Entrees: ethereal classic gnocchi with sage, squid in bouillon with avocado, Spanish-style ham. Plats: steak with roasted pumpkin, turbot with Swiss chard, scallops. Desserts: a potato (!) soufflé with blood orange sherbet (which tastes like a brioche), rich chocolate ganache. A 46€ Southeastern wine, recommended according to my price and other parameters with genuine enthusiasm.
By the owners. Room was half full, but the attention paid and genuine interest expressed was fully reflective of the proprietary tone of the entire staff.
Entrees 8€ – 12€; main courses: 24€ – 28€; desserts 8€. With aperitifs, cheese course, 16€ for 2.
A repeat visit, largely unchanged. Décor the same. Warm, casual, welcome the same. Ditto prices, wine focus. Food, menu still very nice, if in no way memorable, as they probably intend.