Liquide par Substance Restaurant

Tales from the Tavern

November 3, 2021By Heidi EllisonRestaurants
Liquide par Substance, located near Les Halles.
Liquide par Substance, located near Les Halles.

The name Liquide might lead you to think that this place is a bar, but its full name is Liquide par Substance. What does it mean? Well, Liquide is a fairly new restaurant owned by Mathieu Marc, who is also the chef and owner of the wonderful Substance in the 16th arrondissement. To cook at Liquide, he wisely hired his competitor on this year’s Top Chef TV cooking contest, Jarvis Scott, who has worked at Arpège in Paris and Tickets in Barcelona.

Liquide’s marble high table, designed by Philippe Starck.
Liquide’s marble high table, designed by Philippe Starck.

You would also be forgiven for thinking that the Vikings had recently passed through Liquide, what with all the animal skins draped over the backs of chairs and displays of animal horns. After ebullient greetings from three or four servers, the four of us were seated at the shared high table, carefully separated from our neighbors by big vases of dried flowers. As there were some empty chairs in between, we hardly noticed those seated near us.

My three lunch mates were all attracted by the fixed-price lunch menu (at €29). I was, too, as it seemed lighter than the à la carte main courses – one of which, pigeon stuffed with Morteau sausage for two, sounded amazing but rather heavy for a workday lunch. In the interests of diversity, I decided to sample three starters and share them with my companions.

Chipirons with butternut squash and chestnuts.
Chipirons with butternut squash and chestnuts.

The set menu started with a dish of crispy chipirons (baby squid from the Basque country) drenched in puréed butternut squash with bits of chestnut. All three were more than happy with this autumn-inflected dish.

Rockfish with coco de Paimpol beans and seafood bisque.
Rockfish with coco de Paimpol beans and seafood bisque.

They were even happier with their main course, sébaste, a type of rockfish, perfectly cooked to a pearlescent sheen. “It’s not easy to get it just right,” commented Jean-Michel wisely. A few seconds too long in the pan and a perfectly good fish has gone over the slippery slope into inedibility. At Liquide, they managed to get it right for all three plates at once. The sébaste was complemented by a seafood bisque and came with those wonderfully tender and flavorful French white beans called coco de Paimpol that are only in season for a short time each year, from summer through late October.

Foie gras with eel.
Foie gras with eel.

I started with a dish that sounds odd but proved to be a big hit with all of us: a piece of smoked eel surrounded by fine foie gras, accompanied by a spicy condiment (to be used sparingly for fear of overwhelming the delicate flavors).

Trout tartare with shiso tempura.
Trout tartare with shiso tempura.

I had also ordered an unusual dish of shiso tempura topped with trout tartare and pickled grapes. My friends seemed uninterested, but I enjoyed both the fresh fish, marinated in verjus, and the crispy tempura.

Jura fried chicken with fried onions and capers.
Jura fried chicken with fried onions and capers.

My next course was a surefire people-pleaser: perfectly cooked Jura (the home region of the chef) fried chicken with fried onions and capers. The meat was tender and the breading satisfyingly crispy, without the slightest hint of greasiness. It was perfection.

Apple crumble with ice cream.
Apple crumble with ice cream.
Chocolate rice wafers.
Chocolate rice wafers.

The set-menu group all had the same fresh, fruity dessert with apples, crumble and ice cream, topped with toasted buckwheat, but that didn’t keep them away from my original dessert built of layers of broken chocolate rice wafers with fresh mint on top and ice cream sandwiched in between.

It was a royal meal, with plenty of substance and no shortage of good liquids (we sampled the Albertmann Pinot Blanc Auxerrois and the Dionysos Coup de Jus Vin de France, both very likable). I do recommend that you book in advance for this “modern tavern” – I had tried unsuccessfully five or six times to get a same-week reservation before I finally wised up and booked a few weeks in advance.

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