Sometimes the things that are right under your nose are the easiest to miss. How many times have I strolled along Rue Marie et Louise in Paris’s 10th arrondissement, not far from where I live, without noticing the restaurant L’Archimede, which has now been there for four years? Luckily, something brought it to my attention recently, and I gave it a try in the company of a new American arrival in Paris.
L’Archimede honestly and accurately bills itself as “sober and simple.” The short menu offers two starters, three main courses (one fish, one meat, one vegetarian) and three desserts (one of them cheese – Ossau Iraty, from French Basque country).
The first course of semi-cooked red-label salmon was indeed simple, but the supreme quality of the fish meant that it was exceptionally good. Three generous pieces, adorned with sesame seeds, black lemon and trout roe, sat on a bed of bean sprouts.
The other starter, a creamy soup made with winter vegetables and topped with goat cheese and toasted hazelnuts, was lovely, though it would have benefited from being hotter when it reached the table.
The very fine magret de canard (duck breast) was spiced up with Espelette pepper and served with farro (hulled wheat) and cauliflower mousseline. The only drawback for me was the gravy, whose too-intense flavor I found unpleasant.
The delightful fish course was baked fillet of bass served with an excellent, creamy risotto and carrots topped with always-welcome toasted hazelnuts.
Like the other courses, the desserts were simple – simply good, with few frills. One was an updated version of the classic tarte tatin – the wonderful French caramelized-apple tart that used to be on every menu but that is rarely seen today – served with crème anglaise (custard).
The other was a moelleux au chocolat, normally a hot molten chocolate cake, but this one was cold and topped with a dollop of passion-fruit ice cream that was delicious in itself but so strongly flavored that didn’t pair well with the chocolate.
I’m a strong believer in keeping things simple (though complicated can be devilishly good in the right hands) and can only laud L’Archimede for sticking to basics without compromising on quality, flavor or interest. Now that I know it’s there, I will return.Favorite