Wed 26 Jan 2011
Bread soup with foie gras, champignons de Paris and hazelnuts.
131, ave Parmentier, in the 11th Arrondissement.
Lunch, Tues–Fri; dinner, Tues–Sat.
01 55 28 78 88.
Anyone frustrated by the difficulty of getting a reservation at Le Chateaubriand will be pleased to know that there is now another way to get a taste of Iñaki Aizpitarte’s cooking, right next door at Le Dauphin.
That it’s a Chateaubriand offshoot was enough to guarantee that there would be buzz about the opening, but the fact that the interior was designed by Rem Koolhaas has had people in a lather. Le Fooding named Le Dauphin Best Interior at their annual awards, before it was even open.
The setting is a low-ceilinged space outfitted almost entirely in white marble, with a curved mirror at the back, a three-sided bar in the center of the room and high tables along the walls. Wooden stools add a touch of warmth, but the room gets most of its color from the cast of almost absurdly hip types who call this their canteen.
The service is a touch hectic, though well intentioned. You may even see Aizpitarte running plates himself. Or at least running the iPod. Food, music, hipster waiters, ultramodern architecture: it’s all part of the package here.
Pluma with radicchio.
At lunch the meal follows a traditional structure, with a three-course, 27 euro menu. But in the evenings the menu is built for grazing, with an ever-changing roster of small plates, some simple (ham, chorizo), some less so. There was a brandade that had been deconstructed into a brothy concoction, light, loose and delicious. A bowl of boeuf bourguignon was topped with crisp carrots and curvy crosnes. Inky risotto was brightened by loops of lemon zest that at first glance looked like squid. The fantastic pâté en croute was dressed up with polka dots of thinly sliced beets. On a return trip there was a strip of pluma (a small piece of meat at the end of a pork loin) showered with curls of purple-red radicchio and tiny rings of raw onion. A bread soup with foie gras was thick and silky, almost caramel-like, with shaved champignons de Paris and morsels of foie gras. The St.-Honoré was a single caramel-glazed puff. Prices range from 6 euros for smashed purple potatoes to 18 euros for curried milk-fed lamb.
The wines are natural, of course, with favorites like Villemade, Binner, Foillard and Mosse well represented. There are two or three whites and reds by the glass, fairly priced at 5 euros. Bottles start at 30 and escalate rapidly.
Your food bill can add up quickly, too. Le Dauphin is not expensive, but it’s not a bargain, either. I guess they have to pay for all that marble somehow.
In a nutshell: Iñaki Aizpitarte’s inimitable cooking in a space with architectural pedigree makes Le Dauphin the wine bar du moment.
Price check: Three-course lunch menu: 27 euros. Evening tapas menu: 6–18 euros (per plate). Wines by the glass: 5 euros. Bottles: 30–145 euros.
If Le Dauphin sounds good you’ll also like nearby Aux Deux Amis. Read the review.
Aux Deux Amis
45, rue Oberkampf, in the 11th.
01 58 30 38 13.
Tues–Sat, lunch and dinner.