Word of Chef Inaki Aizpitarte's new spot has reached all of Paris. I tried to get my editor at Conde Nast Traveler to assign me a review for the Hot Tables issue but she said it wasn't 'new' as they didn't change the name.
Well, she is so wrong because it is new.
This Basque chef and his food is one of the target reservations in Paris these days. Old name. Old decor. New restaurant. So, it was shocking that on Thursday we were able to get a reservation for Saturday night.
My first view of the place was a promisingly huge, rustic wooden bowl of red and yellow striped tomatoes. The sight made me happy. What made me pissed was that when we (party of five) walked in, they feigned ignorance. But we persevered and we were seated instead of being given the boot.
We were shoehorned into a table and presented with the 39 euro, three-course menu (three choices exist in each category). In the middle of deciding, Jane Sigal of Food & Wine magazine breezed in to eat. After the shock and the hellos, we settled into our respective seats and menu deliberation.
Most dishes were opulently seasoned and spiced with country fresh ingredients. Best of show was a Moroccan paddled and stuffed lamb...would love to take that recipe and apply it to an eggplant. The smoky, bacony, spaghetti carbonara was made with celeriac instead of pasta rates pluses on tastes (in my case, smell) and imagination. Pissaladiere (wow, something I could actually put into my mouth) was deconstructed, crunchy, spot on anchovy --whole instead of crunched up. The cod came riddled with baby grey insect-looking shrimp. The fromage was one perfect slice of morbier fermier. Wine list? Well, its is still natural but goes even more orthodox, mostly no sulphur stuff and no older vintages.
There was little I could eat, but a lot I could smell. I don't think Iíve been in a restaurant so unaccommodating to a non-meat, shellfish eater. Our waiter gave me a look of, oh-you-poor-thing, maybe you should go elsewhere. But never-the-less, had a great time, enjoyed the people watching, I think this is some of the more exciting food Iíve seen in Paris of late...but I miss the old place.
129, Avenue Parmentier. 01 43 57 45 95
Intense chocolate dessert with a red pepper puree