I have been to L’Office many times when a new chef took over, but now this little restaurant has not only another chef – the best yet, in my opinion – but also a different owner and a revamped decor.
The new man in charge, Charles Nikitits, who waited on us the other night, is a sweetheart, and the minimalist decor has brightened the place up, with a coat of pale green paint, a white-tiled bar and a variety of designer light fixtures.
With four of us and four choices on the menu for starters and main courses, we immediately decided to order one of each and share them all.
Among the excellent starters, it was hard to decide which one was best, but there seemed to be a consensus in favor of the unusual “cereal salad“: lots of healthy grains with a confit egg yolk, watercress and wild garlic.
But then who could resist a delicate preparation of perfectly cooked white asparagus with morels, aged Comté, lardo du Colonatto and vin jaune.
And we certainly relished the roasted broccoli with coriander, parsley and black garlic, adorned with squid-ink wafers.
Perhaps the least exciting was the maigre (meager) tartare with cucumber, black radish and tosazu (a type of Japanese vinegar), but it was beautifully fresh, and I found it to be quite subtle.
If possible, the main courses were even better, truly exciting. I think we all agreed that the pork belly with puréed lentils, baby carrots, carrot leaves and grain-mustard sauce was a stunner. If you go to L’Office, do not miss out on it.
The pork tied closely, however, with the exceptional beef Wellington, a dish rarely seen in French restaurants these days. It was meltingly tender with a flavorful crust that didn’t go all soggy and was served with divine mashed potatoes with Kampot green pepper and some greens. Wow!
The third dish, Thai-style gambas with coconut-flavored broth and black puffed-rice crackers, was no slouch either. Hard to stop eating it and spooning up the sauce.
Those three fantastic dishes made the fourth – wild bass with spinach-filled conchiglione and plump, super fresh peas – pale a bit in my eyes, but it was extremely fine in its way, especially those vegetables.
Although no one was very hungry at this point, we had to try the desserts. The deconstructed chocolate tart with tonka beans and sencha tea was indescribably good, but I’ll try: the rich chocolate cream was of such high quality that it left no cloying aftertaste in the mouth as some lesser chocolate does. The tonka beans and sencha tea gave it a lovely tang, while the brilliant chocolate crumble added crunch and a different chocolate flavor. I could eat this every day.
On the advice of the owner, we also tried the extremely light cheesecake with mango sauce and paper-thin slices of coconut. Another sublime dish.
At the end of our meal, Nikitits introduced us to the chef, the baby-faced but highly talented Charley Breuvart. Long may he cook!
Every other time I went to the old incarnation of L’Office, I was not entirely satisfied. There were always a few glitches. This time, not a single one. Now there is no reason to think twice about going to the office. It’s had a promotion and is no work at all, just joy.