Small plates and tapas are inescapable in Paris restaurants – and everywhere else – these days. Personally, I love them because they give me a chance to taste more dishes than usual without overeating (the drawback is that you sometimes end up hungry a couple of hours later), but I know a lot of people who hate the whole concept. To them I say: don’t worry, it’s just another trend, and this, too, shall pass.
In the meantime, another such restaurant has opened in the 11th arrondissement, the tiny Margo, a cute little place with tiled floors, a small bar and some green plants, owned by a Japanese chef, Keita Kitamura, who has worked with Pierre Gagnaire.
On a hot summer evening, we sat outside at one of the two tables on the sidewalk, not the nicest terrace in Paris, as the street has a fair amount of traffic, but better than being inside, where it seemed even noisier.
We kept cool by drinking an excellent rosé from Château Léoube, while we were served by a friendly, relaxed young man and woman – sometimes too relaxed, as there were a couple of long waits.
While waiting, we kept busy by munching on the excellent bread, white and black (made with activated carbon).
We were advised to order two dishes each, which we did, but I think hearty eaters would probably want more. On that hot evening, however, we didn’t have very large appetites, so it was just right.
Two dishes arrived together right away. The very tasty lamb came in an unusual form: quick-cooked flakes of meat with al dente baby onions, the whole sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.
With it came roasted zucchini, a great way to treat a vegetable that can be so boring, with an extra assist from bits of a fine chorizo, which also flavored the creamy sauce.
The superb, succulent and flavorful Challans duck came with a roasted carrot and a few fresh cherries.
We also enjoyed the unusual interpretation of a clichéd summer favorite: tomato, mozzarella and basil. At Margo, the tomatoes are heirloom and the burrata is liquefied. On the side was a dab of peach sorbet, which didn’t add much to the already delicious dish.
For dessert, we had both fine options: the cream puff with rum ice cream and caramelized bananas, and pound cake with raisins, figs and cognac-flavored whipped cream, both made – as was everything else here – with fresh, top-quality ingredients.
Margo is a great addition to the roster of small-plate restaurants in Paris. Just make sure you eat your fill.