A pleasing urban buzz animates Pan, a trendy but unpretentious Paris restaurant where you get the feeling that you are in the right place at the right time. Even the neighborhood, which until recently had nothing special to recommend it, now has a lively new atmosphere.
The restaurant’s high ceilings, low lighting and varied ambiances add to the overall agreeable impression. Crystal light fixtures contrast wittily with the rough stone walls and exposed heating ducts, and the large front room has 1950s-style furnishings and decoration. Beyond it is a bar area with a few tables for two, followed by a small room just large enough for one big table.
We were offered a tasting menu for €45 each, but we opted for the menu of the day. Among the starters, we had a choice of two daily specials, foie gras, six Paimpol oysters or a selection of tapas. Bonnie picked the copious salad with radishes, endive, radicchio and quail egg marinated in soy sauce. The seasonal vegetables were sliced paper-thin and were super-fresh and seasoned to a turn. My Jerusalem artichoke soup with a delicious crispy wonton and a curry leaf floating in it was comforting and flavorful. A-ok for the starters.
We pressed on to the main courses. Of the four on offer, Bonnie chose the pan-fried scallops
and squid with cauliflower purée and black curry sauce, which also came with yellow beets and cubes of squash. Like the veg that came with my Iberian pluma pork – roasted
potatoes, Brussels sprouts, yellow beets and bits of pickled onion (a nice sharp contrast to the pork) – they were just right, neither under- nor overcooked. The tender, slightly piquant pork had a delicious crispy topping of chicharrón (pork rinds).
The presentation was appealingly minimalist, with the various ingredients artfully scattered over large plates, but we thought serving only three scallops was taking minimalism a bit too far. In the end, however, we were both satisfied and even shared a dessert. It was a dense, moist “Persian cake,” which seemed rather ordinary at first but then started revealing more subtle flavors.
With the meal, I had two glasses of Hervé Souhaut’s fine 2011 La Souteronne from the Ardêche, suggested by our youthful waiter, who couldn’t have been nicer and more accommodating.
Although Pan has been panned by a couple of other reviewers, we found nothing to reproach it for, except perhaps that the prices are rather steep. The noise levels, by the way, were surprisingly reasonable given those stone walls.
Pan is now officially added to my go-to list, perhaps not as a top favorite, but as a good option in the neighborhood. Next time I will try the tasting menu, which comes out to about the same price as ordering à la carte.Favorite