Wednesday, 1 December 2010


A wonderful bistrot hidden in the Odeon area

On a sidestreet right near the Place de L'Odéon is a lovely bistrot, L'Epigramme. A popular place with few tables, it is a good idea to reserve. The dishes are beautifully composed and have modern touches. I went there with my friend, Noriko, and she was pleased as well.

I started with a cappuccino of potiron aux crevettes--a thick pumpkin soup with a healthy portion of nicely grilled shrimps in the middle, garnished with a lovely purple pansy. We both ordered the same main course: selle d'agneau à la lavande--a pink slice of lamb infused with lavendar and served with a sweet turnip and caramelized new potatoes. It was as good as it sounds. With the meal, I ordered a their Merlot by the glass and this married well with the dish.

For dessert, I had a wonderful, creamy panna cotta with fresh mango--an excellent way to finish such a lovely meal.

While I was at the restaurant, I thought of other people I would like to take there. It is truly a wonderful place: an authentic bistrot that French people like where the meals are not expensive and the atmosphere warm and welcoming.

Monday, 29 November 2010

Passage 53: a Japanese-French star

A new one-star French restaurant entirely run by Japanese

A friend of mine told me of a new one-star restaurant run by Japanese people. It is called Passage 53 and is just two years old. Since the Japanese are very creative and interested in fine cooking, I couldn't wait to go.

This is another of the small places (22 seats) where there is no menu but a surprise tasting for everyone. There are both a French and a Japanese maitre d'hotel--both of whom are knowledgeable and helpful.

The meal consisted of a parade of small plates, each lovingly prepared and delicious. The first two seemed to be riffs on color. I started with an all-white dish: lightly grilled squid resting on a purée of cauliflower and topped with cauliflower shavings. The purée was made with a very flavorful olive oil and the dish (which sounds bland) was quite stunning. Next came the orange dish which was a sea urchin foam, a piece of sea urchin and a carrot flan: also wonderful.

After that, what came on the plates was more colorful and complex. There was a marlin with a variety of seasonal vegetables beautifully placed on the dish; an amazing sautéed foie gras with salty shellfish juice flavored with yuzu: such a strange combination that worked very well. After that came a baked Cévennes onion which had been taken apart and layered with spicy chorizo and then put back together. Superb! The meat dishes were a very tender roast veal and a wonderful poularde with lots of white truffles and a puree potatoes. This was spectacular!!

The dessert course should have been called "everything you dreamed of ordering but were too afraid to ask". There was a terrific lemon mousse with meringue and crunchy lemon caviar, a wonderful tiramisu, chestnut cake with banana ice cream, mont blanc, a clementine sorbet flavored with green tea and the best chocolate tart I have tasted in many years. I saved that to have with my coffee .

The wine list here is quite extensive but if you just want glasses of wine you can have a Meursault (an reknowned producer of Meursault) with the first courses and an excellet Vosne-Romanée from Arnoux-Lachaux.

Like Le Bigarrade and Sa Qua Na, this restaurant is not cheap but would be a wonderful place for a special occasion.