March 13, 2012

Omnivore Dinner at Au Passage

 

As some of you may know, the Omnivore World Tour food festival has been in Paris recently, synthesizing an array of culinary events.  Having just come back from a long California winter, we accepted the fact that we might have been just a little too late arriving home to Paris to book a table at any of the F***ing Dinners, which pair a local chef at his/her restaurant with a visiting chef for a one night set menu.  We had just seen that the F***ing Dinner at one of our new favorite spots, Au Passage, was fully booked ("please do not call!").   This dinner paired the resident Australian, James Henry with Brooklyn's Isa's Ignacio Mattos.  We sighed in defeat, but then my phone buzzed across the table. A text from our good buddy Josh Fontaine.  He had two free seats. And, yes, we'd take 'em.

Three Amigos: Josh, Carina, and Adam (of Candelaria)
On paper, the menu was very simple (see above photo).  Even though I knew that there would be more to the plates than the words lead on, the level of over simplification reached comical heights when "amuse bouche" turned out to mean: lardo with spiced candied almonds; then an oyster with shallot and ginger granita; followed by a small cube of fois gras in a delicate broth; finishing with some small slivers of uni on shaved fennel.  Now on to the first course...

The bread at Au Passage is from Thierry Breton, Chef and owner of Chez Michel, a respected Breton bistro in the 10th.
The recommended wine pairings, of which we only ended up ordering the cider.  
That is, after a white and a red from the regular wine menu
Chardonnay at 14%!
Scallop and Cabbage.  'Nuf said.
In contrast to the over-achieving brigade of amuses bouches, the first course was exactly what was described on the menu: scallop and cabbage, the former with just the lightest kiss of a sear, and the latter braised or browned in the most delicate way.  Though this might sound boring, it was as if I had been given the purest proof that these two flavors are wonderful together. 

Then came the tartare de boeuf, in a planetary arrangement of circles.  I don't know how else to say it, but this course of this F***ing Dinner was really f***ing good.  The perfectly seasoned beef surface gave way to a mantle of molten Jerusalem artichoke puree.  And when eaten with some crumbles of the fried flax seed crust, a wisp of cream and a crispy pepper corn, it reach a complete spectrum of textures and flavors; soft, meaty, creamy, crunchy, earthy, nutty and bright all at once.

Watch out for peppercorn asteroids!
The Prettiest Li'l Mackerel Filet in Town,
Dressed up in Multi-Colored Carrots, Horsradish Cream, and Crispy Capers










Pineau D'Aunis.  For those I-can't-decide-between-Pinot-Noir-and-Gamay moments
Magret de Canette with Mustard Greens and Jus
Heart and Liver of Canette with Mousse of Celery Root.  
The best little heart I've had in recent memory, 

Biodynamic Cider.  Not too sweet and totally right on.
Lemon Custard with Ginger Granita.  A moebius strip of palette saturation and cleanse.

All in all, it was a very fine meal.  It exemplified a progression in the new trend of sensibly adventurous bistronomy cuisine that's been happening here in Paris.  The doors have been opened by the likes of Inaki Aizpitarte for young, high-level chefs to experiment with unusual pairings of simple and traditional ingredients.  And now, rather than push the accepted new palette further into the unknown, the younger chefs seem to be focusing in closer on simple pairings and experimenting with a minimalist hand. 


Au Passage
1bis passage de Saint-Sebastien, 75011 / 01 43 55 07 52
Open Monday - Saturday, No lunch service on Saturday


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