Noisettes (hazelnuts) are all the rage in Paris restaurants and are a welcome addition to many dishes (especially when toasted). A restaurant in the 12th arrondissement has chosen to name itself after this noble nut.
Noisette is a small place with a pleasant terrace on the street. It is run by its two owners: chef Amandine Carreau, who works in the open kitchen in the back, and the agreeable Jane Demangeon, who provides the service. They promise to prepare gourmet dishes on-site using carefully selected seasonal ingredients from small producers and organic products when possible.
That’s all well and good, but the proof is on the plate. Happily, all those promises were fulfilled.
The short menu, which changes every week, offered seven savory dishes, listed all together without distinguishing between starters and main courses. One touch I really appreciated was that three dishes, which would normally be main courses, were available as either small plates or in full-sized portions.
We chose four small plates to split between the two of us, plus two desserts, starting with piquillo peppers stuffed with merlu (hake) and drowned in a tomato-basil sauce that seemed a bit sweet at first but revealed its subtle flavors as we ate.
We then attacked a dish of flash-cooked tuna with pea risotto and a white sauce, its gentle, round flavors contrasting beautifully with a condiment of zingy preserved lemons.
Next came the most delicate and tender homemade gnocchi imaginable, accompanied by chunks of perfectly cooked eggplant, cherry tomatoes and feta cheese. A thoroughly comforting and pleasing dish.
The pièce de résistance was the meltingly tender and flavorful glazed pork belly, slightly charred, with split-pea purée, scrumptious mushrooms and a bit of broccoli.
Desserts were an intensely chocolatey, purposely undercooked brownie topped with hazelnuts and a smart, refreshing pairing of lemon pannacotta with apricot sorbet.
We were perfectly satisfied with the small helpings of each dish, but the pork belly was so divine that we could have easily devoured the larger portion.
What more can I say? Noisette is a little gem of a nut.Favorite