Chatomat Revisited

Fine Dining in a Dollhouse

January 11, 2017By Heidi EllisonArchive



The dining room at Chatomat.

The tiny 20th-arrondissement restaurant Chatomat is as good as it was when it opened more than five years ago. Sadly, the candlelight our reviewer commented on in 2011 was  gone, but the wine was as strong as ever: the 2015 Terre d’Aigles Côtes du Rhône from Domaine Richard we ordered had a 15-percent alcohol content!

I happened to be in the neighborhood with a friend one evening during the end-of-the-year holidays, and we miraculously got a table without a reservation. Warning: do not try this at other times of the year.

The à la carte prices are a little higher than they were (€44 as opposed to €40), but the €40 set menu includes three courses plus an amuse-bouche and mignardise for €40.

After the opener of a small bowl of mushroom


soup with celery, we dived into the excellent


starters: mallard duck and foie gras in a filo pastry crust, its richness complemented by a condiment of shallots and red wine. The other first course consisted of tasty morsels of lamb


sweetbreads dolled up with yogurt with smoked paprika and topped with watercress salad.

One of the main courses, braised venison,


received an original and highly successful treatment and showed none of the dryness venison is sometimes subject to. Flavored with tonka beans, it was served with kale, fonio (a West African grain) and a bouillon of turnips and bananas (just a hint), of all things. It worked beautifully.

The chicken dish was a brilliant surprise. I wasn’t expecting much, but I have rarely tasted such succulent, flavorful poultry. The secret,


according to the waiter, was that it was poached with hay, an ingredient that pops up in all the trendiest restaurants and which I first came across at Septime. The chicken was served with Jerusalem artichokes and romaine lettuce and another inventive sauce: chicken stock flavored with vin jaune and aged Comté.

It’s not easy to keep up this level of quality and complexity course after course, but the chefs (Alice Di Cagno and Victor Gaillard) managed it with their creative desserts: spice and honey


cake associated with citrus fruits, ice cream and caramelized filo pastry for one, and for the other, brioche with vanilla-flavored pumpkin


purée, cardamom-flavored yogurt, pecans and


whipped cream. They were followed by two tasty mini-lemon tarts.

It was a huge pleasure to find that this little dollhouse of a restaurant, with a waiter who is himself a doll, is still going strong.



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