This tiny (18-cover) restaurant in the ninth arrondissement was originally the springboard for the great Daniel Rose, whose wonderful restaurant Spring, once my favorite in Paris, is now sadly closed. Although he still owns two bistros in Paris, La Bourse et la Vie and Chez la Vieille, Rose is now living in New York City and working at his wildly popular restaurant Coucou.
The current owners of what was the first incarnation of Rose’s Spring are not as strict as he was (he insisted that everyone arrive at the same time and served them all the same thing at the same moment). At L’Innocence, there is no choice, but you eat at whatever time you reserve.
Chef Anne Legrand, who has worked with Gordon Ramsay and Hélène Darroze, likes to cook mainly with vegetables and is able to work magic with them, judging by a recent lunch there. The first course was a very humble-looking plate of endives that were anything but humble on the palate. A sprinkling of a strongly flavored grated pecorino from Sardinia, aged for three years, combined beautifully with the slightly bitter taste of the endives and the meaty flavors of Lardo di Colonnata and a poultry reduction. This was a dish that revealed its flavors gradually and was surprisingly delicious and satisfying.
In spite of the preference for vegetables, we were given cod for the main course, perfectly cooked and accompanied by baby Brussels sprouts, spinach and a tart sorrel-based sauce.
The three-chocolate dessert was stunning: one part ganache, one part cake and one part crumble. On top of that were a scoop of lovely orange-blossom ice cream and a few meringue sticks.
With coffee, we were given another treat: delicious mini-grapefruit tarts.
The setting is simple and attractive, with leather-covered chairs and fresh flowers on the tables, and the service from Legrand’s partner, Jonathan Caron, pleasant and efficient.
Now that I have lost my innocence at L’Innocence, I have nothing to lose by returning, and I certainly will.