|Bresse chicken coated in Perigord truffle|
Aaah, Paris, je t'adore!
And so begins and ends my command of the French language. Although I am also very good at ordering a baguette.
Recently, TPG and I escaped the harsh, grey English winter, for the harsh, grey French winter in the big city of bistros, brasseries, cafes and croissants. We embarked on an apartment exchange with a Parisian couple who have a place right in our all time favourite part of Paris - in a street off the pedestrian market strip that is Rue Montorgueil - and about 100 metres from the cafe where we eat breakfast each time we go to Paris. We do like our rituals. So, with free accommodation, we found ourselves with all the more to splurge on a big night of fine dining. Bonjooooouuuur Paris.
When Le Chateaubriand cruelly shut its doors for private functions on the very weekend of our visit, there were big frowns in Chez Greedy. Tears were almost shed. (It was, afterall, source of one of my favourite meals of 2010.) However, the blogging world put on its big red cape and came to the rescue with a plethora of suggestions, which led to us investigating Restaurant Passage 53 courtesy of a tip from Gourmet Traveller.
Passage 53 is not a place you're going to notice in the ordinary course of your romantic strolls through the city of love. It's tucked away in the oldest covered passage in Paris, and is a tiny, unassuming narrow strip of a restaurant with only a handful of small tables. Having opened in April 2009, it has already accumulated a Michelin Star (with surely another one on the way), and it's absolutely magnifique in every way.
Nothing about the simple, neat decor belies the ravishing nature of the food. We opted for the 8 course €85 menu degustation, although there's a less pricey menu dejeuner for €45 (be warned that the price will still stack up once you factor in wines). Personable manager Guillaume Guedj guided us through our wine selection, hitting on a sublime bottle of Henri Boillot Meursault to start, and later shifting us seamlessly on to a glass of something big and red and beautiful (no notes, no idea but very happy) to complement the main course.
Everything about this visit was a complete delight - the joyful food, the friendly service, the fabulous wines, the delicious surprises on every plate.
Chef Shinichi Sato (formerly of 3 Michelin starred Pierre Gagnaire and L'Astrance) offers whatever is fresh and seasonal at the daily market - there's no menu. You surrender to wonderment and the chef's creativity.
The place is so small and intimate, I decided not to take photos of everything, and I'm not going to describe it all in minute detail. To do so would spoil the unexpectedness of everything you need to experience for yourself at Passage 53.
Little things like Cevennes onion with thin slices of the best melt in the mouth chorizo I've ever eaten, gorgeous droplet-like oysters in a creamy bed of smoked haddock, apple and caviar, and a perfectly cooked piece of turbot with sweetly caramalised endive and melt in the mouth foam. (It wasn't the best looking of the dishes, but perhaps that's why I spared a second to photograph before diving in.)
One highlight (of many) had to be the Bresse Chicken with such satisfying depth of flavour, and so moist and succulent, that the memory, the taste, is imprinted in my taste buds weeks later. TPG, never one to deprive himself, paid a €50 supplement for 2 truffle courses and his chicken came coated with thin, pungent slices of Perigord truffle, the prized "black diamond" of the truffle world. It was perfection.
The amazing fillet mignon could only be explained if it had been injected in delectable cream before being served up before us. If you had a care in the world, you would feel it melt away with each luscious bite. I desperately never wanted it to end.
The elegant assortment of desserts were scrumptious, but perhaps the only disappointment of the night was that TPG's second course of Perigord truffles came plastered over one of the sweet dishes - a combination which we already knew from our truffle hunting and wine trip to Crillon le Brave was not for us. But by then, we were already smitten.
I absolutely loved every minute of Passage 53. I can't wait to go back. Bien sur.
53 passage des Panoramas, 75002, Paris (Tel: 01 42 33 04 35, closed Sundays and Mondays)