If you are visiting Paris’s Musée d’Art Moderne and can’t see the Forest for the art, go downstairs and out onto the spacious terrace with a gorgeous view of the Seine and the Eiffel Tower, located between the museum and the Palais de Tokyo. There you will find the restaurant Forest, which is still operating exclusively outdoors but will soon move into its indoor winter quarters.
The food at Forest, in spite of the restaurant’s woodsy name, is not at all rustic. In fact, it is quite sophisticated, in a healthy, natural “now” way, with lots of quality vegetables (remember when the only vegetables you could get in a French restaurant were overcooked green beans?) and Middle Eastern ingredients. It is prepared by “rock-and-roll” French chef Julien Sebbag, who learned to cook in Tel Aviv and is riding the wave of popularity of Israeli restaurants like Miznon (where he once worked).
For lunch the other day, I decided to go (almost) all veggie and succumbed to the server’s suggestion that I also order the challah, which turned out to be a whole loaf, a bit much for one person. This addictive braided bread (from the Babka Zana bakery in the ninth arrondissement) came with a bowl of tahini and a dish of a pleasingly hot green salsa.
The labneh I ordered also went beautifully with the challah. Like all the dishes on the menu, it had a descriptive name, in this case, “Snow.” Labneh is strained yogurt, which might not sound very exciting, but it is when augmented with garlic, pickled grapes, peanuts, mint, tuna poutargue (cured fish eggs) and excellent olive oil.
“Bloody Beetroots” was a dish of beets, obviously, roasted in a salt crust, thinly sliced and adorned with fresh cream, trout roe, fried capers, lemon zest and fresh thyme. The beets were amazingly silky and so delicate and delicious that I found the strongly flavored fish eggs intrusive and unnecessary.
I also had the “Red Cab,” a red-cabbage salad big enough for two (or for a whole meal; that’s all the woman at the table next to me ordered), dolled up with Medjool dates, toasted sesame seeds, parsley, stracciatella mozzarella, sesame oil and wild oregano. This is a salad you can really enjoy while congratulating yourself on eating healthily – like everything I had, for that matter.
Having seriously overordered, I had to get doggie bags for the remains of the challah and the Red Cab, which made a great lunch the next day. This once-unheard-of custom is now ordinary practice in Parisian restaurants and is actually government-mandated to reduce waste. Ask the server to give you a “doggy bag,” pronounced with a French accent, or to “emballer les restes” (“wrap up the leftovers”).
By not finishing everything, I still had room for dessert: an excellent milk-chocolate mousse (a.k.a. “Michoco”), almost sinfully enhanced with other goodies: Brazil nuts, caramel miso, Espelette pepper, fleur de sel and barberries.
When you book, make sure you ask for a table on the Seine side of the terrace. The view is worth the rather elevated prices, but so is the food in this “postmodern refuge.”Favorite