Once again, the search for a restaurant open on Monday evening in Paris has led to the discovery of an amazing new place. The last time it was the trendy Lolo Bistrot; this time, it’s the high-style – in terms of both food and decor – Jeanne-Aimée in the restaurant-packed ninth arrondissement.
The sleek, pleasingly modern interior features high ceilings, a view of a small courtyard garden, a glowing bar with a subtle pattern suggesting a mountain range, which is repeated on the yellow walls in the back room, from which one can watch chef Sylvain Parisot whipping up his brilliant dishes with a relaxed air in the open kitchen, with big jars of various fermenting foods sitting on the counter. Jazzy music plays on a good sound system at a reasonable volume.
We knew all would go well as soon as we tasted the two amuse-bouches: delightful crispy chips made with fish skin, with a fishy topping, and strips of raw mullet with a drop of bay-leaf oil.
As is usual in the best bistros these days, the menu is a short one, with three choices for each course. All of them sounded so interesting and original that it was hard to choose. I should note here that one of the partners in this venture is Dan Humphris, owner of the locavore grocery store Humphris on Rue Milton, purveyor of some of the best produce in Paris. Needless to say, all the fruit and veg used in our meal were top-quality, seasonal and at the peak of ripeness and flavor.
I started off with the snowpeas with smoked trout and strawberries with a few toasted pistachios and tiny white flowers thrown in for good measure. This unusual combination worked together beautifully, especially when combined with the two exquisite sauces that formed what looked like a gingerbread man on the plate. Luscious.
On the other side of the table, my friend was loving his asparagus with gravlax (trout rather than the usual salmon) sprinkled with crunchy little fennel flowers and accompanied by a citrusy white sauce.
He was just as contented with the delicious caramelized cod he had for his main course, accompanied by perfectly cooked Swiss chard, peanuts, and a dollop of freshly ground peanuts (not exactly peanut butter) as a condiment.
Meanwhile, I was chomping away on black Aveyron pork with a wonderful barbecue flavor, served with bok choy and a marvelous mixture of spelt and cockles.
If possible, the desserts were even better than the spectacular previous courses. We were first treated to a pre-dessert: a tiny île flottante (floating island) with a super-citrusy sauce and crumble on top.
Vegetables were used judiciously without adding clashing flavors in both desserts that followed. My friend had the sweet-pea ice cream with meringue, perfect strawberries and red-pepper sauce.
My delectable ganache dessert with meringue, tarragon and rhubarb sauce was prettily topped with bits of raw vegetables.
For your own pleasure, please do go, and go on a Monday night to make it worthwhile for the restaurant to stay open. We need more Monday-night restaurants!Favorite