Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Septime, Paris


I had read countless reviews of Septime, all overwhelmingly positive.  Moreover, Septime is fresh off the heels of making it on the list of the top fifty restaurants in the world -- sliding in at number forty nine: http://www.theworlds50best.com/list/1-50-winners/septime/.  Here is a quote from the link as it describes the food style and aesthetic of the restaurant better than I can:

This bijou bistro in the 11th Arrondissement in Paris is home to head chef Bertrand Grebaut's spontaneous and delicate cooking style that plays on his experiences with Alain Passard as well as his travels through Asia. The dining room is understated, creating a blank canvas on which Grebault works his magic, and the service is straight-forward, friendly and knowledgeable, mirroring the simplicity of much of the restaurant's cooking.

There is no set menu.  As you can see from the photo above, the menu is called "Carte Blanche."  This is becoming quite commonplace in Parisian dining.  As you are greeted by the very polished and knowledgeable waiters, they inquire about one's food allergies.  Then you are at the mercy of the chef.  It isn't until each course lands on the table that each dish is revealed. I loved that element of surprise.  And they do the same with wine; the sommelier keeps an eye on your glass and refills it with something new that pairs nicely with your next course. So, you don't necessarily have to pair wine with each course but rather as you go.  It is truly an experience.  And at fifty five euros this is steal. I'm sure this is only an added obstacle to snatching the tough reservation. 

First course:
Veal tartar with fava beans, anchovies, dehydrated citrus, grapefruit and drizzled in white wine.  Oh my.  This dish sounded a bit  adventurous even for me but the way the flavors all worked together was mind boggling.  Alone, each component would not have taken on such an effect. Together, what an unbelievably complex dish of seemingly unlikely pairings.  This dish was served with a white wine from Venteto. It was orange in color and apparently made like a red wine and served cool, not cold. It worked so well with the citrus, veal and anchovies.

Second course:
Artichoke served three ways: pureed heart, crispy leaves and roasted leaves served with grapefruit slices.  This was a nice and light course to break up the more distinctive flavors of the first one.

Third course:
Mullet topped with lardon, grilled white asparagus topped in a steak jus.  What a complex dish. The lardon over the fish gave it an added richness and the steak lent the dish an added flavor component. It tasted rich but then went down very lightly. Tres unique!

Fourth course:
Young lamb served very rare with baby turnips.  This dish was divine. Lamb can have a very gamey taste but this was the least gamey lamb I am yet to try. The dish was served with a glass of red from Puglia which was spicey and rich.

Fifth course:
The dessert was a lot more simple in that it was a pollen ice cream served with granola. It was light and exactly how I like to finish a meal. The pollen ice cream almost had a citrus-like flavor more sorbet-like than ice cream. Simple and perfect.

Three hours at a table of one on a bustling Friday night at one of the hottest restaurants in Paris could have been intimidating and alienating but I never felt alone.  The wait staff were so kind and patient with me. They had no problem switching over to English when my eyes went cross-eyed in French confusion.

* I made this reservation on lafourchette.com.  It's the Opentable.com of Paris.  It's amazing.  Make two months in advance and keep checking back if you fail to secure a reservation.

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