A bright, clean decor for the new restaurant Nina.How wonderful to return to Paris from summer vacation and find that a new restaurant, Nina, has opened in your absence. And how even more wonderful to discover that it’s a great addition to the city’s roster of creative bistros.
Nina, located in the 14th arrondissement, has a pleasingly simple decor, bright and clean, with white walls, red graphics and blond wood furnishings. Its youthful chef, Alexandre Morin, is an alumnus of Paris’s Ze Kitchen Galerie, an excellent recommendation in itself.
The lunch menu, with a small selection of starters, main courses and desserts, offers the option of choosing a “mosaic” of any of those dishes, in slightly reduced portions, at €17 for three and €20 for four at lunchtime. We had three, which was plenty, given that the portions are quite generous.
Each one was sheer delight. My friend’s goat-cheese tempura, which came with a few strawberries, thin slices of cucumber and a touch of strawberry sauce, was light and
luscious. I had the amazingly good duck tartare, with mostarda sauce, bits of pink grapefruit, and some big, fat capers. This was a divinely balanced dish. I would return just to
have it again, but the following dishes gave me even more reason to go back.
My beef picanha cost an extra €3.50, but it was worth it. The beef, larded with fat, was rich and
flavorful, crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, and came beautifully garnished with lots of fresh peas, baby turnips and baby leeks. My friend’s tender veal came with a lovely
array of vegetables: puréed squash, sautéed wild mushrooms, eggplant and baby corn.
The chef did not slack off when it came to the desserts, which were equally winning. One was a kind of cookie-like financier (small French pound cake), which made a stunning match
with a tart lemon cream accompanied by confit raspberries and thin slices of baby cucumber (sounds weird but it works!). The other was
dried and fresh figs with dark-chocolate cream and coffee-flavored whipped cream.
The dishes were not always exactly as described on the menu (peas instead of carrots, e.g., or figs instead of plums), but who cares when the chef has such a sure hand and is substituting appropriate market-fresh ingredients.
Get there as soon as you can.