February 8, 2010By Richard HesseArchive

Remembrance of Things Past

Jadis’s Guillaume Delage is a chef to watch.

The name Jadis has overtones of Proustian nostalgia, of things gone forever. Chef Guillaume Delage, who opened his restaurant scarcely a month ago, a stone’s throw from the Porte de Versailles exhibition complex, has already been flagged by several critics and named as a rising star by a trade magazine, so it’s wise to book ahead.

As the name (which means “yesteryear”) implies, the chef is working hard to restore some of the glory to the kind of traditional food that has dropped off the culinary radar in recent years.

In my case, last week, that meant a vol-au-vent with snails and oyster mushrooms (pleurotes) that was melt-in-the-mouth earthy – an excellent start to the meal. My dining companion, a true-blue trencherman, was deliriously happy with a generous tureen of silky cream of squash soup and tiny, munchy croutons. I found it pretty lip-smacking, too.

That was followed up by a fricassee of all sorts of things – calf sweetbreads, chicken oysters (the quaintly named sot l’y laisse), duck’s heart and rooster crest. I wasn’t sure about the last two at the outset, but the duck’s heart was excellent. I wasn’t taken with the gelatinous texture of the crest, however. This was served with root veggies – deliciously tender turnips and Jerusalem artichokes.

The other main dish was a chunk of roast veal, pink inside, served on a bed of Swiss chard and kidney, which came with a flat, sausage-like creation called a caillette, made from the animal’s variety meats, and more chard greenery. Delage believes, as they did in the past, of using up every bit of the animal, snout to tail.

Jadis is very proud of its cheese, which is sourced directly from several different makers and served at room temperature. A gentleman at a nearby table used sign language to tell me that I really would be missing something if I didn’t try the cylindrical goat cheese, and I was very glad I did so: the quality was tremendous. The gentleman, it turned out, was the cheese-maker in person, and he is rightly proud of his creation. I also tasted the Cantal, which had plenty of bite.

In the guise of liquid accompaniment, we chose a chewy and very reasonably priced 2005 Vacqueras Domaine de Montvac (Duserre, €25), and followed it with a carafe of the house Vacqeyras from a different producer, which was also excellent.

The dessert list is as short as the other sections of the menu. We went for a quince tarte tatin and a quenelle de mousse au chocolat gingembre, streusel et meringues. Oddly enough, only the day before I had suggested to my girlfriend making a quince tatin for a dinner party, so I was intrigued about the result. Unfortunately, it was too sweet: the ineffably delicate flavor of the quince, in my humble opinion, was KO’ed by the caramel. The sausage-shaped chocolate mousse was a star, especially with the crunchy little meringues and streusel accompanying it.

The decor features stylish gray and maroon surfaces, and dark brown tables and chairs on a traditional tiled floor. I quailed on arrival at the sight of many hard surfaces and a party of 10 not-yet boisterous alpha males, but both the hard surfaces and alpha males behaved themselves and, although the place filled up, it was never uncomfortably noisy. The service was perfect.

All in all, Jadis is an excellent addition to the already healthy restaurant scene in the 15th arrondissement, and when word gets out, it should get plenty of from traffic from the nearby Porte de Versailles. Guillaume Delage is definitely a chef to watch.

Richard Hesse

Jadis: 208, rue de la Croix-Nivert, 75015 Paris. Tel.: 01 45 57 73 20. Métro: Porte de Versailles or Convention. Open Monday-Friday for lunch and dinner, and Saturday for dinner only. Closed Sunday. Fixed-price menu: €32*.

* three courses, not including wine

Reader Amos Israel Zezmer writes: “We decided to partake of all the Jadis buzz. Nice ambiance, quite excellent dishes, but let’s not go overboard with the praise. The sound level? Like a horde of Hoovers vacuuming full blast. However, the highlight of the evening was having our after-dinner coffee served along with the bill and being told to settle it immediately because ‘people were waiting.’ The newtendance on the Parisian dining scene? An invasion of savage Anglo-American culinary customs? Merci, non. Jadis is now history in my little black book!”

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