This is an affordable gourmet restaurant that is worth a visit. It's located a 10-minute walk away from the Relais du Louvre. The business is held by the same team as the Baltard at the Louvre for which we had already written an article (read our article).
The decor of the venue is contemporary, sober, and refined, but also warm. One appreciates the space between the tables, the acceptable level of volume (even when the restaurant is completely booked), and the open kitchen where a concentrated brigade is busy.
For lunch, an appetizer and main dish are offered on weekdays at € 22 and the full meal (including dessert) at € 28. In the evening, a chalkboard that changes every month offers a choice of 5 appetizers, 5 dishes, and 3 desserts for € 45. Finally, the tasting menu with 6 courses is advertised at € 65.
As far as wines are concerned, the menu is very complete. It offers great names, but more importantly, a well-informed selection of organic wines from small, responsible farms.
The boss in the kitchen is Takashi Aoki. This Japanese chef, trained in Tokyo, quickly joined the hexagon to practice his art in renowned institutions such as Clos des Sens (**) in Annecy, Le Suquet in Laguiole (**), led by Chef Michel Bras, and L'Ambroisie (***) in Paris.
What characterizes Takashi Aoki's talent is his ability to magnify quality products, in a simple way and without excessive transformation. The taste signature is often difficult to define, as refined as it is subtle. His French-Japanese dishes make creative and original combinations with a seductive personality.
The dishes are beautiful and the presentation refined.
We started our dinner with marinated beef, mashed avocado, mushrooms, passion vinegar, cilantro, and sumac. The meat is very tender, the combinations are balanced, and the seasonings are sophisticated. Sumac is a plant with a reddish flower. The flower is crushed, such as it is here in the dish. The avocado brings sweetness, the passion fruit, a touch of sugar, the sumac, acidity, and the cilantro gives the dish its spiciness.
We also tried the marinated bass in a sesame vinaigrette, served with finely sliced Jerusalem artichokes and a curry sauce. Everything is finesse, freshness, and subtlety. Another well-balanced combination.
I was particularly seduced by this confit leg of lamb, cooked for 8 hours at a low temperature. It is served with mashed potatoes and parsley, salsify, buckwheat, and spices. It really makes me want to revisit my cooking habits. The meat is as tender as it is tasty.
And there's pressed veal, green asparagus, chards, and wild garlic. The chard is a neglected vegetable because it withers very quickly. This plant is crisp and sweet, and easily handles being paired with a very sparkling vinaigrette, enhanced by wild garlic - an aromatic plant that can be found at the market from the end of March. A nice summer dish.
Freshness, acidity, and well-proportioned sweetness define this sponge cake that goes fantastically with very fresh fruit juice; there's raspberries, blackberries, and grapes, but especially this Granny Smith sorbet and mashed apricots.
Finally, as pretty to look at as tasty on the palate, their lemon cake also offers great flavor combinations with creamy mango, passion fruit, and a cilantro sorbet. It's crunchy, melting, and creamy, with rather discreet sweet and spicy notes.
We drank a slightly fresh Menetou-Salon 2016 from Philippe Gilbert, which was very good, especially with the leg of lamb (€ 40).
The service staff seems a little young but stays likable and friendly. Ask the waiter about the dish you want to order, because the chef can accommodate his recipe with flexibility, depending on the needs.
A beautiful craft!