Chef Éric Trochon is a Meilleur Ouvrier de France who has trained many a talented young chef as a teacher at the École Ferrandi and is also a partner in the excellent Left Bank restaurants Freddy’s and Semilla. Now he has his own preserve, Solstice, where he can show off his talents in collaboration with his wife, sommelière Mi-Jin Ryu.
Located in the scholarly part of the fifth arrondissement, which is not known for its great restaurants, Solstice has a pretty decor, with a few contemporary paintings on the walls, white banquettes, real tablecloths and napkins, and handsome and comfortable dark-wood and black-leather chairs. The white dishes were subtly embossed with varying designs.
Our lunch (€45 for three courses, with two choices for each) got off to an excellent start with a delicious amuse-bouche of mullet tartare with pomelo and chervil, accompanied by a tiny pecorino-flavored puff pastry.
My three companions all scorned the corn-based starter, but I was curious to see what the chef would do with this humble ingredient. I was rewarded with a bowl with a few kernels of corn and some toasted corn hair at the bottom, over which the waiter poured creamed-corn soup. Its sweetness was counterbalanced by a smear of salty white miso butter.
The others all had the marinated Banka trout, which is carefully farmed in French Basque Country and prized by gourmets. It was served with pickled beets and homemade ricotta cheese. One of my friends said that the latter was not made properly, but it looked and tasted fine to me, as did the trout.
We tried both of the two main courses. The leg of lamb with red orache and Kalamata olives was tender and tasty, and the creamy whipped potatoes on the side were a welcome accompaniment.
The other main course was maigre (meager), served with celery root. One friend complained that it tasted too fishy, although, again, I found it to be fine.
To finish, we all had the mandarin-orange-themed dessert made with satsuma mandarin segments and mandarin-and-almond sorbet and topped with a crispy tuile.
My friends were rather disappointed with their lunch. I thought it was quite good, although it could have been a bit more elaborate for the price. It sure beats anything you’ll find in the local student hangouts, but not many scholars will be able to afford this professor’s food.