After a brilliant debut as chef at Gaya. Pierre Gagnaire’s wonderful Left Bank fish house, talented young chef Guillaume Delage went on to open his own restaurant, Jadis, in a far-flung part of the 15th arrondissement.
He got great reviews, and the place became a roaring success. Alas, it petered out in the end, due, I think, to a service style at this now closed restaurant that was charmless and abrupt. So that even if Delage’s cooking was wonderful, and it is, too many people left the table here with little desire to return.
Happily, Delage’s many fans will now find him cooking at Juvia, a lively new restaurant in the 8th arrondissement in the heart of Paris.
Here Delage serves up a great menu of casual cosmopolitan contemporary comfort food, and this explains why the place is packed with young executives at noon and then with well-heeled locals again in the evening.
Start with a “Detox” salad of quinoa, crab, romaine and Granny Smith apple (served both as a starter and a main dish) or another one called “Ole”, a composition of goat cheese, sliced tomatoes, piquillo pepper coulis and smoked tuna, or maybe the sea bass carpaccio with goose berries, lime and olive oil or oysters marinated with rice vinegar and mirin.
Standouts among the main courses include steamed Scottish salmon with a courgette veloute and a grapefruit-and-Sarawak-pepper condiment and savoury lamb meatballs with Moroccan spices, aubergines, pepper coulis and brocciu cheese. Finish up with the excellent baba au rhum or Tonka bean flavoured panna cotta.
One of the great pleasures of visiting Paris during the autumn is the way the city prompts the appetite to want heartier fare after a summertime of salads.
The winey smell of ripe apples, a whiff of wood smoke here or there, the resinous scent of the chestnut and plane leaves in the city’s gutters bring on a desire for some good solid traditional French food, maybe a dish like cassoulet, that superb south-western French simmered dish of white beans, preserved duck, sausage and other ingredients.
If this sounds good, the place to go for a really great cassoulet in Paris is chef David Rathgeber’s excellent traditional French bistro L’Assiette in a quieter corner of Montparnasse on the Left Bank. Rathgeber trained at various Alain Ducasse restaurants before he took over this long-running local favourite eight years ago and made it his own. “I love traditional French cooking,” says the chef, “you know, those great dishes that taste of flavours melded together to create a new one, dishes like cassoulet,” says Rathgeber, who also offers such classics as homemade rillettes de lapin et foie gras confit (potted rabbit with foie gras), escargots, and tete de veau (calf’s head). The genius of his kitchen, however, is that it is ultimately just as appealing to people who want to eat lighter more modern French food as it is to traditionalists.
For example, his sea bream carpaccio with crunchy vegetables is excellent, as is his paella-style squid and roasted octopus and pork in a sauce of cooking juices deglazed with aged vinegar. Conclude with one of the best creme caramel in town, or for something less caloric, airy Fontainebleau cheese with raspberries and lime zest. But one way or another, be sure to book here, since this place is very popular, and come with a well-primed appetite, since portions are generous. Open on Saturdays and Sundays too.
Fare with a View
Perched on the last floor of the Theatre des Champs-Elysees on the Avenue Montaigne in the heart of the posh “Golden Triangle” of the 8th arrondissement, Maison Blanche is a stylish restaurant offering one of the best and most intimate views of Paris. The gilded dome of Les Invandes just across the Seine takes pride of place, with the Tour Montparnasse, the tallest skyscraper within the city limits of Paris, in the background, and the Eiffel Tower framing the panorama on the right. Chef Fabrice Giraud’s fresh, light, inventive contemporary French cooking has made this restaurant a favourite of the fashion designers and executives who work for the many luxury brands located in this neighbourhood, Christian Dior among them. The menu follows the seasons, but starters like sea bass tarte with herbs and sea-urchin mousse and vitello tonnato show off Giraud’s Mediterranean roots and his sunny style. Pastry chef tempts with a selection of tantalising desserts as well, including rhubarb preserves with hibiscus jelly and a luscious cake of Araguani chocolate. Suave service and a good wine list make this a delightful choice for a memorable meal in a room with a view.