Wed 28 Mar 2012
Monkfish with leek puree and watercress.
34, rue Ste.-Marthe, in the 10th Arrondissement.
01 42 06 05 03. Tues–Sat, lunch and dinner.
I had a foodie friend visiting me recently, and I wanted to take her to a Paris bistro off the beaten path. Luckily there are many rising young chefs who are taking the rue less traveled and opening restaurants in some of the outer arrondissements. Not only is the rent cheaper, but the crowds can be more eclectic and open to straying from the more traditional beef bourguignon–type French fare. Le Galopin fit the bill on all accounts. The winner of French Top Chef in 2010, Romain Tischenko, is at the helm, making inventive cuisine in the 10th.
Walking up the colorful rue Ste.-Marthe, we poked our heads in the many bustling cafés that have joined the migration out of central Paris. We also passed two groups of people idling in doorways with small stashes in their hands. My friend actually saw a “transaction” go down while we were eating. That’s the tradeoff with blazing new trails.
Inside Le Galopin, the room was buzzing. The space is minimally decorated, with plain yellow walls, simple wood tables and floor-to-ceiling windows wrapping around the corner of the bistro. There’s also a room downstairs; when we were there, a large group was dining semiprivately—always a nice find in petit Paris.
We were given a sheet of paper with seven courses handwritten on it and the day’s date: our no-choice dinner menu. The waitress asked if we had any issues and then helped us order a wine to go the distance. I fell in love with the silky-smooth Saumur from Domaine Guiberteau and will be hunting it down in the future.
Our meal began with a flash-fried daurade that was crunchy and curious, with a jet-black exterior, but it primed our palates for the adventure ahead. A creamy lentil soup followed, augmented by a generous dollop of crème fraîche and a mélange of nuts, green onions and carrots adding a great crunch. Next up was a veal tartare that melted in my mouth, with strips of vegetables providing a nice textural contrast.
The first of the two mains was a vision of winter white: soft monkfish on a leek puree with accents of watercress to add color and flavor. We were then treated to rare slices of duck precisely prepared with a salty miso sauce and quartered squash slices.
After our two desserts—a warm pear and a freshly made banana cookie—the meal came to a fitting end. When the kitchen closed, we got to see chef Tischenko emerge from his tiny workspace, put his feet up at one of the newly emptied tables and throw back a beer with his kitchen comrades. A drink well deserved for a dinner well imagined and well prepared.
In a nutshell: Le Galopin delivers multicourse, no-choice inventive cuisine from a hot young Top Chef who is thinking big.
Price check: Lunch menus, 20–25 euros; no-choice dinner tasting menu, 44 euros.
If Le Galopin sounds good, you might also like Rino. Read the review.
46, rue Trousseau, in the 11th. 01 48 06 95 85.
Tues–Sat, dinner; Wed–Sat, lunch.
Editor’s note: For a gourmet walking trip, check out our DIY downloadable trips.