Loiseau Rive Gauche.
At first glance, the newly rebranded Loiseau Rive Gauche (formerly Tante Marguerite) seems irredeemably stodgy and old-fashioned, decorated with orange-accented gray banquettes and colonial-style wood paneling, with insipid, unnecessary music playing at low volume in the background. We soon forgot all about that, however, as we tucked into a star-quality lunch prepared by the restaurant’s youthful new chef, Maxime Laurenson.
When you order the fixed-price lunch menu in a Paris restaurant, you often get simple dishes that won’t cost the chef much trouble. Not here. We were treated to a series of fancy,
delicious and beautifully presented amuse-bouches: a chunk of haddock enveloped in haddock cream and served on a rice chip, a little tart of beets marinated in elderflower vinegar with an extremely fine crust, and a generous chunk of foie gras flavored with coffee and topped with (rather unnecessary) rounds of pickled turnips.
The first course was something of a work of art: cauliflower cream studded with pieces of
smoked eel and housed in a structure made of superfine slices of cauliflower of different colors and sprinkled with ground peanuts.
The main course was Challans duckling cooked rare (no other choice was offered, but that was fine with me) and served with Morello cherry-
flavored jus, sour cherries and shizo leaves, creating the perfect fruity, acidic complement to the richness of the meat. It came with lovely pommes dauphines served on a bed of straw like eggs in a basket.
The refreshing, summery dessert was another triumph of flavor balance: red berries served
with agastache ice cream and topped with pink meringue and agastache leaves.
That wasn’t the end to the dessert course, however. Out came a nut-covered chocolate truffle with a whole nut in the middle, followed by a buttery bite-sized financier.
The day we had lunch there, the restaurant had only five customers, but this may have been because it was August and the politicians and employees of the nearby Assemblée Nationale and ministries were still at their summer homes in the Lubéron. I sincerely hope that is the case.
Don’t miss out on Laurenson’s cooking. A variety of fixed-price menus are available in the evening, but for a real deal, I recommend treating yourself to an extra-fine lunch there.
Reader Ron Fox writes: “Your review was so correct, However, I was not hesitant in seeing the decor with the orange stripes. The restaurant was immediately welcoming, very quiet on a Saturday afternoon. The maître d’hôtel and sommelier were friendly and correct. We were offered amuses bouches of smoked haddock and later a taste of betteraves, both refined and full of taste. The entrée on the €39 menu was haddock, almost, but not quite, sushi in a sauce of jus de carrots and and an emulsion of carrots carbons. The main course was cabaillaud with a leek burned at the ends and tender at its heart; the burned leaves of the leek almost begged to be eaten as chips. I won’t go into the pleasure of the desert, blancmange, but I will say the the sommelier was pleasant, convivial and extremely knowledgeable about the wines that he was offering. He would be welcome at my table in any restaurant. Many thanks for having led me to this wonderful watering hole.”