Friday night was the beginning of the long Easter weekend and the end of a particularly full week which included an extended business trip for Mr French, so it was a special treat when he walked through the door at 19h, looking relaxed and ready to play. As is often the case, I picked up the phone and tried to get reservations some where. Anywhere.
But it was last minute Friday night, and Easter weekend means that half of Europe is in town anticipating a long romantic weekend. Everything in my petit livre noir was fully booked, désolé, madame. Even La Table d’Aki, which was still off the foodie radar as recently as three weeks ago.
Mr French changed into something more comfortable while I racked my brain for inspiration. Restaurant 21, another favorite for fish, had a table at 22h, a bit late for my ravenous appetite, so we headed out for a stroll as I proposed creole tapas from La Rhumerie, or the Italian wine bar Oenosteria, run by our friends Chicha and Simone.
Strolling through the festive crowds, everyone was thrilled to be on a long weekend, except the waiters, who were thrilled at the thought of the extra tips they would be earning. Suddenly I remembered a restaurant I had walked by earlier in the week. It was still under construction, but looked bright and welcoming and I already knew that it was part of the group that owns Cosi, Fish La Boissonerie and La Dernière Goutte, so bound to be decent. The menu boasted cheeses by Marie Quatrehommes and listed the names of their suppliers for meat, fish, olive oil and hazelnuts. A place that is proud of its suppliers is bound to be good.
The place was throbbing with energy as we arrived. The exposed pipes and high volume made me feel like I was in NYC, while the menu made me think of California cooking with starters featuring spring greens, mangos, green apples or shitake mushrooms. The mains are either grilled, steamed or in broth, making for light, healthy eating that was simply delicious. I was intrigued with the tangy sweet mango mixture, but loved the deep, woodsy flavours of the grilled shitakes, the bright flash of the gremolata with a monk fish osso bucco and the fresh, pure taste of the pumpkin purée that accompanied my perfectly cooked pollack.
The desserts took more courage to attempt. By this point, we had total confidence in the chef, Maître Ouvrier de France Eric Trochon, but we were not in the mood to brave the avocado ice or the aloe vera cream. We settled on the carmalised bananas, which were so good we both awoke the next morning, their flavour lingering in our memory.