Wed 17 Oct 2012
2, rue de Berne, in the 8th Arrondissement.
01 45 22 18 91. Mon–Fri, lunch and dinner; Sat, dinner only.
It’s hard to get excited about going to a Paris restaurant when you have to walk around a train station and over the tracks in pouring rain as I did last week when I went to Neva. Open just a year, Neva sits alone in a residential neighborhood just north of Gare St.-Lazare. Once I located the sole restaurant on the corner, I was relieved to open the door to find a modern, welcoming restaurant done up in warm hues of brown.
I was intrigued to try the cooking of the chef, Béatriz Gonzales, a Mexican woman who honed her culinary skills in several French restaurants, including Senderens and La Grande Cascade.
The offerings are fairly straightforward, with five starters, five mains and five desserts to choose from. (The ménus are well priced, and this is the way to go if you’re hungry for at least a starter and a main.)
We began with cooked langoustines sliced in half, sitting among a green pool of pureed rocket, which was a nice contrast visually, if not so much on the palate. I would have liked a note of spice to give the individual flavors more depth. Our other appetizer of paper-thin shrimp ravioli was delicate and delicious in its amber-hued broth, which itself was worthy of two pieces of bread to mop up the sweetly balanced sauce.
The cabillaud (cod) was a thick cut, nicely seared and served with a shot glass of a chorizo-like salsa, which infused the fish with a great meaty saltiness. A matching block of potatoes accompanied, alongside some dressed greens topped with onion strings. It was a fun plate with nice flavors to match. In contrast, the veal sweetbreads seemed a little more serious. Though not fully satisfying on their own, they improved with the addition of some sweet artichoke salad to lighten the intensity of the dish.
Chef Béatriz Gonzales’s “balano” dessert: chocolate cake with banana ice cream, caramel sauce and peanuts.
The dessert made me forget about any minor flaws in the meal. Yannick Tranchant is the pastry chef and, like Béatriz, worked at La Grande Cascade. We had the “balano,” which combined all of my favorite dessert flavors in one dish, with chocolate cake, banana ice cream, caramel sauce and peanuts. It was rich, sweet and totally satisfying.
In a nutshell: If you’re willing to venture off the beaten path—that is, north of Gare St. Lazare—you will be rewarded at Neva with contemporary cooking at reasonable prices.
Price check: Mains are 24–35 euros each, but the ménus are the way to go, beginning at 29 euros for a starter and plat (36 euros for a starter, plat and dessert). Some supplements apply.
If you like the sound of Neva, you might also be interested in Albion. Read the review.
80, rue du Faubourg-Poissonnière, in the 10th.
01 42 46 02 44. Tues–Sat, noon–2 p.m. and 7–10 p.m.
La Grande Cascade
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