So one thing I am not so keen to blog is reviews of restaurants as I feel my vocabulary around describing food is limited…at least limited to the point that writing a whole blog post about a restaurant would be pretty boring for you as the reader. After all, there’s only so many “delicious”, “fabulous”, “delectable”, “tastes like the sole of my leather shoes” etc that one can take! Plus there are a lot of bloggers who do it and do it very well…so why try to compete? Another reason is that I hate to take photos during a meal. Every now and again I do – but usually I just want to stay in the moment and enjoy what’s right in front of me…alas this makes for quite boring posts if you prefer pictures over words.
But occasionally I will make an exception…and this is one of those times. I have just been to lunch with some friends from New Zealand who visit Paris approximately once a year. Matthew, who is married to one of my best friends, has said that I need to blog more often, even if I just write shorter posts (thanks for the encouragement M!) So given my lack of blogging over the past month, it’s time to get back into it (I have been using the excuse of having no decent photos to use, as unfortunately we are now past the long summer evenings where there was enough light to take a good photo without using a flash…but I guess I’m just going to have to get more creative as that’s a pretty poor excuse!)
The restaurant we went to, Agape Substance, is just a short walk from home in the 6eme. Very nondescript on the outside, and very small on the inside (we worked out that it only has a capacity of 21 people). Except for two separate tables at the side of the long room, everyone sits on high stools at the long communal table which runs straight on from the kitchen bench. The service is excellent – super friendly guys who introduced each course to us. They even asked what I thought of a couple of courses, which is not at all normal in Paris where no one really cares what the hell you think, as obviously it will be “perfect”!
The menu is a set menu and they give you a list of one word food items that they say you may encounter during your meal. Then you choose whether you want the menu with wine or without. It ain’t cheap (€65 or €109 with wine pairing) but who cares when the food is incredible. I was worried about taking friends there without having tried it first, but when Matthew said that this was one of the best meals that he’s ever had in Paris, I was able to rest easy.
I had to ask our waiter at the end how many courses we had eaten…as I didn’t keep count. Apparently it was somewhere between 10-12 but the amazing thing was that we didn’t walk out of there feeling completely stuffed – instead it felt just right.
I can’t remember it all…but here’s some of the food we ate. As you can see, they utilize a lot of different herbs/vegetables that I’ve never seen on a plate before:
Berce – we started with an amuse bouche of this which was served two ways. I had no clue as to what this was…they had dried sprigs of it in their vases but that provided no clues. However after some super sleuthing on the Internet, I discovered it was Giant Hogweed! Now that’s a food first for me. I can say that it had a subtle citron-y taste.
Tomate – this was their version of gazpacho, but served with sorrel and a small dollop of some cream of something that I missed. Delicious!
Oeuf – a very soft poached egg served with an emulsion of verbena. Delicate but very tasty.
Avocat – this was good! Creme of avocado served with oxalis. When I saw the oxalis, all I could think was that this used to be the noxious weed that I battled with every year as it took over our garden in Montreal. Who would have thought that you could eat it – apparently it’s a wild sorrel!
Carotte – two baby carrots, perfectly roasted and seasoned, incorporated with a root of some herb that smells like cloves (they brought the root to the table so we could smell it for ourselves)…so simple but oh so delectable.
Merlan – the presentation of this dish was fun. They bought out a bowl with a lid…under the lid was a simple piece of perfectly seasoned and cooked fish (whiting), which was sitting on top of a ‘plate’ covered in small holes. Once we had finished the fish, they came and lifted the plate and underneath was this yummy broth of vanilla, yams and something else that I’ve forgotten. I’m not a big fan of vanilla in savory dishes but this chef hit it out of the park. Yum!
Pied bleu – I was hoping we would have cepes given that it is the season after all. This dish was bloody good – pied bleu (I now know that this is a mushroom) and baby chanterelles, with some sort of crumbly buttery goodness scattered throughout. Probably one of my favourites of the meal.
Persil – just in case your French is not up to scratch, this is parsley. I was wondering what the heck they would do here. Well it was a dessert! Possibly the most creative dessert I’ve ever had. It was a smear of parsley paste served with the tastiest blackberries and a purple basil sorbet. Ok sounds really weird, but it was soooo good!
I can’t rave enough about this place – for sure I will be returning with G!