The bar at Quinsou.
I thought I had mistaken the address on the restaurant-lined Rue de l’Abbé Grégoire (home to the excellent Cézembre) when I saw the beat-up facade of a café whose salad days were obviously long gone. But no, I was in the right place: a new restaurant called Quinsou.
The seediness of the exterior (which I imagine will be remedied soon enough) was totally contradicted by a bright, simple, pretty interior, with blond wood tables, a small bar and patterned tile floor. Then there was the food: carefully sourced perfection from start to finish. My friend and I both ordered the fixed-price lunch menu (€28 for two courses, €35 for three). Only one dish was offered for each course, but they were all appealing.
For starters, we had a soft-cooked egg in mushroomy bread soup with ventrèche (smoked pork belly) and kale, beautifully presented with the
kale draped elegantly over the top. “Elegant” is not a word I had ever imagined using to describe kale, and this was the first time I really enjoyed eating this worthy “super-food,” a real compliment to the chef, Antonin Bonnet, an alumnus of the kitchen of the Paris restaurant Sergent Recruteur.
The soup was followed by a faultless piece of pollock from St. Gilles Croix de Vie (as specified on the menu), served with a silky
butternut-squash purée and shelled mussels in a divine white-wine sauce.
The dessert kept up the standard and made me appreciate another ingredient I had never been crazy about: chestnuts, in the form of a little
tart with a layer of chocolate cream and vanilla tonka ice cream. I am now thoroughly reconciled with chestnuts, at least when they’re prepared this way.
The excellent bread was made with heirloom flour by Roland Feuillas.
The name Quinsou apparently means “chaffinch” in Occitan. We were singing as lustily and happily as the little bird when we left the restaurant after this fine meal.
Lunch was indeed a joy, but I hear that the food is even more complex and wonderful in the evening.