I have always maintained that it is a bad idea to order pasta in a French restaurant, since it is usually overcooked and served with an uninteresting sauce. Now William Ledeuil, one of Paris’s leading chefs, has set out to invalidate that claim by using his third restaurant, Kitchen Terre, to infringe on Italian turf with creative new pasta dishes.
I’d heard nothing but rave reviews of Kitchen Terre and, being a great fan of Ledeuil’s Ze Kitchen Galerie and KGB (Kitchen Galerie Bis), was expecting an ultimate pasta experience.
I have (sacrilegiously) given up ordering appetizers and second courses (usually meat or fish) in Italy because the pasta is so good and so copious, but at Kitchen Terre, the smaller portions allow for a comfortable three-course meal (€30 at lunchtime).
Before we ordered, we were given a visual aid in the form of a dish of the different types of dried pasta available: spelt casarecce, einkorn-wheat girolette, durum wheat dentelles from Cucugnan (in France; known for its quality flour), coquillettes from the Barbu du Roussillon (extra-fine wheat) and spelt blesotto. Talk about designer pasta!
My friends were very happy with their respective pasta dishes: dentelles with cuttlefish, tomatoes and galangal for one, and casarecce with chicken and a Middle Eastern touch in the form of harissa and preserved lemon for the other.
I had the girolette with Iberian pork and kimchi, an interesting-sounding mix of Italian, Spanish and Korean elements with uninspiring results. While all the ingredients were, as expected, of high quality, the kimchi didn’t come through, and the dish as a whole was too greasy.
Two of us had a rich and irresistible gianduja chocolate dessert with crumbled cookies and coffee ice cream. The other dessert we sampled was strawberry ice cream with melon and peaches (it was still summer when we ate there): lovely but totally uninteresting to us chocolate lovers.
The restaurant is attractive, with its artfully scraped-up walls, shelves of wine bottles, colorful faux-marble tables and blue banquettes, and the service friendly and efficient, but I must admit I was a bit disappointed. The pasta dishes seemed to be overcomplicated and trying too hard. What makes Italian pasta so great is its simplicity: what could be better than ricotta ravioli with a simple buttery sauce and fresh sage, or spaghetti with just a homemade tomato sauce, assuming, of course, the use of the best ingredients? Not much.