The dining room at Mamagoto.
There was nothing really wrong with the restaurant Playtime, which used to occupy the space that is now home to Mamagoto, not far from the Gare de l’Est. The food was very good and the decor attractive. It just wasn’t fun to eat there, as the name might have implied, seated on a high stool and served by an indifferent staff.
Playtime may be over, but it is far more enjoyable to eat at Mamagoto. The high tables are gone, replaced by real ones in a simple decor, in which acoustic ceiling panels help keep noise levels down. And the greeting we received from our waiter set a new tone at once: this is a man who enjoys his job and wants to make sure you enjoy your meal.
That alone would have made Mamagoto a pleasant experience, but to top it all off, the food was pure joy. The shortish menu is divided into appetizers, cold dishes and hot dishes, which diners can mix and match and share as they please. Although the chef, Koji Tsuchiya, is Japanese, there was a decided Spanish influence on the menu.
We started with an appetizer that doesn’t
require much cooking skill or creativity, but that we both loved: pimientos de padron, perfectly fried up and served smoking hot.
The next dish, truffled burrata with lemon and
pear, sounded a bit strange, especially since lemon wouldn’t seem to go with burrata, but all the different flavors worked together beautifully.
Then came another lovely dish: green
asparagus (plus fresh peas and lots of fresh herbs) with poached eggs, buckwheat (sarrasin in French, highly trendy at the moment), served in a smashing sauce.
The squid with fantastic shitake mushrooms
was another triumph, so good that I found the high-quality chorizo (a typical Spanish touch) to be completely extraneous until I realized that its flavor added just the right balance to the luscious sauce. A touch of green crunch was added by the salicornia on top.
A nice dish of cockles was especially notable
for yet another perfect soak-it-up sauce.
We finished up with a small plate of fine Fort
de Saint-Antoine tomme with black-cherry jam and a satisfying chocolatey-creamy concoction with maple syrup and pecans.
Another delight was the happily named Rock and Rhône 2015 Côtes du Rhône, made by the Frères Soulier. The waiter explained that it was from a family vineyard that had gone bankrupt. The sons took it over and converted it to natural wines and were back in business.
What’s left to say about Mamagoto? Another new favorite for my list. Go there and have fun.Favorite