Chantoiseau is another addition to the growing roster of fine restaurants in Montmartre. The pretty name means “birdsong,” and the meal certainly had us singing with pleasure. It turns out, though, that the restaurant is named after Mathurin Roze de Chantoiseau, one of the first to open a restaurant in Paris, in the 18th century.
As seems to be the trend in new restaurants these days, the decor is minimalist, one might almost say stark, with simple wooden tables and chairs, glass light fixtures on the ceiling and a zinc bar.
No small plates or gimmicky listings by ingredients here, just a traditional menu with starters, main courses and desserts (plus cheese, of course, for those who wish it).
Chef Nicolas Durand, an alumnus of the deservedly popular restaurant Servan, kicked off the meal with appetizers of small gougères, scrumptious cheese puffs made with Comté.
I started out with gnocchi in a green sauce with buttermilk foam. What might have been a very bland dish was brilliantly brightened by the original touch of fresh mint in the sauce.
The lovely foie gras came in a generous serving with a wonderful accompaniment of finely chopped beets sweetened with griottes (Morello cherries).
Starter number three was scallops with Granny Smith apples and turnips, and a citrusy green sauce, healthy and tasty.
We were hoping the momentum would hold with the main courses, and it did. The tandoori monkfish came with a surprising and delightful mix of shiitake and oyster mushrooms in a flavorful sauce.
The only French person in our party ordered the scallops with andouille. I tasted it, but I must admit that andouille, with its gamey flavor, is one of the few things I can’t abide. My friend, however, was very happy with the dish.
I had pintade (guinea fowl), which didn’t seem too exciting at first, but there was a surprise under the crispy skin: a subtle stuffing of seaweed and endive. The dish of spelt on the side was the only uninteresting one I encountered during the meal.
We shared two desserts among the three of us: a marvelous millefeuille with pink pralines prettying up the plate and a stunning chocolate soufflé with coffee ice cream embedded in the middle.
The food here is highly refined and creative, but my friends, who live nearby, pointed out that it is perhaps a bit too expensive for the neighborhood.
We left the restaurant as happy as larks, singing the praises of Chantoiseau.