I usually choose a restaurant to review each week by looking at my list of recommendations from friends and from press reviews, then try to get a reservation in one of them (often most difficult for the more popular ones). I almost never pick one based on my impression of it when I walk by and read the menu posted in the window – that’s a recipe for disaster. There was something about L’Oyat, however, that led me to disregard that rule. The dishes on the short menu looked interesting, the prices seemed reasonable, the interior looked pleasant, and the server who asked if she could be of help was friendly. I decided to try it.
L’Oyat turned out to be the exception to the rule. Everything we ate was complex yet perfectly judged, made with excellent ingredients, with wonderfully complementary flavors and a beautiful presentation. Great attention was paid to every detail, even the color balance of the ingredients on the attractive dishes.
We were immediately won over by the starters. The British friend who joined me is a great lover, like most of her compatriots, of rhubarb and beets (beetroots to the Brits), and, lo and behold, one of the three starters on offer contained both: smoked veal tartare with crapaudine beets (a heirloom variety, apparently the best) and rhubarb. The decorative dish was topped with a refined version of those fish-flavored crispy rice crackers served as an appetizer in Chinese restaurants and blade-thin ribbons of raw rhubarb. The beets were treated in two ways: pickled and confit. My friend commented that the veal tartare could easily have been replaced with grains or legumes to turn it into a vegetarian dish
While she was relishing the beet/rhubarb combo, I was happily devouring faultlessly grilled octopus, tender to a T, with perfect heirloom tomatoes and a tasty red sauce, brightened with capers, fresh tarragon, dill and basil.
A main course of smoked beef tenderloin was cooked exactly as my friend had requested (à point) and beautifully accompanied by potatoes prepared two ways – crunchy thin sticks and a gratin-like “fondant” – confit onions and delicious, thinly sliced mushrooms with crispy edges.
I had the more summery dish of roast veal, once again perfectly cooked and accompanied, in this case with broccoli rabe (has it finally arrived in France?), fresh peas (whole and puréed) with mint, grilled endive and lovely gravy.
We tried both of the fruity desserts on offer, both exquisite.
The apricots were wonderfully accented with a refreshing herb granité, verbena and poppy gel.
The divine strawberry tart came on a perfect shortbread crust spread with blackcurrant jam and was topped with vanilla mousse, with a side of intense pistachio ice cream.
With the meal, we drank a fine bottle of 2018 Crozes-Hermitage from the Domaine du Peizon (€46).
Who was behind all this goodness? A talented young chef named Jérémy Sergeant, who didn’t start cooking until he was 26 and has since worked in restaurants in South Africa, Britain, and elsewhere in Europe. Kudos!
We were happy to be among the first to discover this excellent new restaurant, which had the misfortune of opening between lockdowns and now looks all set to take off on the newly trendy Rue Notre-Dame de Nazareth.Favorite