The Paris contemporary restaurant scene is a blaze in fire. It has been taken over by a series of artist like chefs whose imagination and unique flavor combinations are not only creative but also exquisitely prepared. Daniel Rose at Spring might have started the stir but chefs like Sven Chartier from Saturne, Chef Sato at Passage 53 and Christophe Pelé from La Bigarrade, are creating a full-blown movement. This upsurge includes cooking with michael jackson like gloves, 10th grade chemistry blowtorches and petri dishes filled with unusual condensations of carrot powder. Let me tell you the results are just short of magic. I am crossing my fingers that the new food explosion of provocative, inventive, but most importantly, delicious, food is still just on the brinks of it's full depth in Paris.
One of these gems, La Bigarrade, I had the pleasure of eating lunch at last week. La Bigarrade is really the epitome of the Franco-Zen movement, with a precession in terms of texture and perfectly balanced flavors. Dinner is booked solid for 4 months but lunch is possible. I was quite frankly blown away. The space is in the tranquil 17th and is quite small, about 9 tables and is filled with an airy, light and whimsical feeling. Cherry blossom trees are softly painted on the walls and the chairs are covered in comfy bright colors with cushions leaving you feeling like you could quite possibly be doing Yoga while devouring a exquisitely prepared meal from 2 geniuses.
Chef Christophe Pelé and Guiliano Sperandio offer 2 menus to choose from with either 8 or 12 courses. In reality the 8 ends up being more like 16 so I assume the 12 is more like 25. Chef Pele impresses while incorporating some next-level cooking techniques aimed at flawless continuity of flavor, born from dishes like scallops topped with almond butter, raw slivers of cauliflower, a thin piece of anchovy, capers and lemons, and sole with a huge slice of black truffle swimming in a sea of a soy accompanied with a light airy celery root puree, torched balanced almonds and fennel. I'm pretty sure La Bigarrade has taken Joel Robuchons place as my favorite Parisian restaurant. I mean 16 tiny dishes that leaves you perfectly satisfied and not too full for 45 euro?!
My opening course: A light, bright and airy palate opener. Oven hot focaccia topped with fleur de sel and a clean and fruity olive oil from Sicily
2nd Amuse Bouche. Lightly fried soft shelled crab served along side a pinch of sea salt and a grilled lime wedge. The result was a juicy lime that when squeezed over the fried crab brightened the dish and let the flavors of the crab shine.
A sliver of beer with a salty sliver of dried tuna. Beautiful + simple. A nice flavor combination of rich and buttery beef with a hit of salt in the dried fish.
St Jacques or scallop lightly cooked with a hand held torch served with a cascading display of slivers of fresh raw cauliflower, lemon, parsley, capers, almond butter and anchovy. This dish was springing with flavor. The raw cauliflower had a certain soft bite to it. The torching of the scallop created a soft caramelization flavor and the almond butter was nutty and divine.
Soft squares of butter jump out in this photo
Sole sitting on a sliver of black truffle and soy sauce accompanied with sweet, savory celery root puree, torched blanched almonds, fennel leaf. This dish was a bit of a meaty fish which I usually is not my preference yet was savory and sweet.
Mackerel slow cooked and finished with a crispy skin served with sweet roasted pumpkin seeds, a dollop of bright green chili, watercress and a citrus bergamot mousse
A very zen/ japanese influenced palate cleanser. A quick shot of sake, quail egg, seaweed and scallions.
Chevre, Asparagus dusted in sweet miso powder, a pinch of cumin and a cube of grapefruit confit. Simple yet my favorite dish of the night. The spice of cumin with the brightness of grapefruit, creaminess of chevre and bright crunch of seasonal veggie.
Trio of 3 desserts to start the final courses.
Passion fruit with a dusting of coffee
Pineapple topped with beets, passion fruit seeds and floating on a sweet bed of caramel sauce
Lemon mousse topped with a coffee bean.
Sweet vanilla custard with gingerbread crackers.
Icecream dusted with green tea and sesame seeds.
A chocolate course of homemade fudge with a Macadamia nut and a slice of chocolate and chocolate mouse cake with banana and a soft dusting.
A vanilla macaroon. The perfect french finish.
La Bigarrade, 106 Rue Nollet, 75017 Paris, France. Metro: Brochant. 01 42 26 01 02. Reserve well in advance.