Pianovins Restaurant

Music in the Kitchen

December 5, 2018By Heidi EllisonRestaurants

I went to Pianovins with a food-blogger friend who had already been there, loved it and reviewed it. When he arrived, co-owner Éric Mancio – who, along with his partner, chef Michel Roncière, worked for Guy Savoy for many years – immediately recognized him and came running over to thank him profusely.

Mancio went away but soon rushed back with a bottle of wine that he said we must taste. It was a Côte de Feule Arbois Pupillin from Hughes Beguet, obviously natural with its very light color and slight fizz. 

When it came time to order, there was not much thinking to be done. There were only five dishes on the lunch menu. All of them could be tasted for €49, or three dishes for €30. We all opted for the latter. 

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Sweet-potato soup.

The amuse-bouche promised on the menu was a little cup of wonderfully buttery sweet-potato soup, with the unnecessary (but seemingly ubiquitous these days) addition of bits of chorizo. 

When the first course, a soft-cooked egg with poire de terre (yacón) root and a piece of toast, appeared, Mancio advised us to “pierce the yolk and let the alchemy happen.” The magic did its work, with delicious results. 

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Pollock with helianthus root and samphire.

For the main course, we had line-caught lieu  jaune (pollock) with helianthus root and a scattering of samphire. The helianthus had a pleasant, mild flavor, something like Jerusalem artichoke. The fish itself was fine, with a salty crust.

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Clementine sections and sorbet.

The dessert on the three-course menu consisted of – count them – three clementine sections with some cream and clementine sorbet. Simple but enjoyable. 

Because my friend was the darling of the restaurant, to the point where Mancio could be said to be fawning over him, he was allowed to have the chocolate dessert even though it wasn’t on the lower-priced menu: a ganache nicely flavored with mild Likouala pepper from the Congo. 

When the check came, we expected the wine to be a gift from the owner, since he had foisted it on us without asking us what we wanted. No such thing; there it was on the bill, but luckily it was only €32 (he hadn’t told us the price). 

The name of the restaurant, by the way, refers to the respective specialties of Roncière (“piano,” chef slang for “stove”) and Mancio (wine). 

My friend, who had found his first lunch at Pianovins to be spectacular, was slightly disappointed by this simple meal. I enjoyed it, but feel that it didn’t really show off the chef’s talents to full effect. Perhaps I should return in the evening for the full piano concerto?

4 Comments

    • When the owner of a restaurant fawns over the customers and frequently invades what should be a pleasant dinner, no matter how good the food is, I will not return. Also the fact that he graciously ‘gave’ you a bottle of wine and then charged you for it, is a poor business tactic and shows his total lack of respect for the customer. I refer to such people as ‘glad handers’, no sincerity, all for show. In your case, you were lucky… it could have been a 100 euro bottle!

  • My partner and I visited Pianovins three times for lunch last November, loving it more each time. We visit Paris each year for a month in the autumn (and sometimes for a month in June) and enjoy the new bistros that we learn about from your blog, as well as others. I particularly enjoy the enthusiasm that Éric Mancio has for the wines he has discovered that pair particularly well with Roncière’s courses. Frequently he will bring a bottle over and let us taste it. If we like it, it’s ours. It never occurred to me on my visits that it would be a gift. And I have never felt that Eric was fawning over us or that he was a “glad hander”, although he has always been particularly attentive, without invading our space or showing a lack of respect. And thanking someone for a nice review is polite, not necessarily cause for criticism. I guess I believe the gracious thing would be to give him the benefit of the doubt.

  • I came across this review while planning for an upcoming visit, and regardless of its negativism booked dinner at Pianovins. What a good decision to follow my instincts and see for ourselves the hospitality and kitchen talent provided by Mancio and Ronciere. Unknown to the house, we found the service to be warm and attentive, perfectly gauged to the temperament of our table, in other words, professional but as newly acquired friends, I can’t imagine any improvement I could recommend regarding either food or service.

    Regarding the author’s wine experience, I have to wonder if there wasn’t a problem in cultural translation. I often tell people that the major risk in speaking and listening to a foreign language is that both parties may be sure they understand the other when there is instead a chasm between them. It is entirely possible that here a new wine was enthusiastically presented for tasting as is usual before accepting a glass or bottle. I’d never expect a free bottle of wine at lunch.

    In all events, our experience was one of generosity in service and on the plate. We were sincere when we left telling them “à bientôt”.

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