This restaurant’s name, Sur Mer, means “at sea,” and when I ate there the other night I felt as if I were afloat on a sea packed with delicious fishy treats.
Five of us had gathered for a meal in the tiny space of what used to be the Verre Volé sur Mer, the seafood restaurant of the Verre Volé wine shop/restaurant down the street, but is now owned by its former chef (currently away on maternity leave).
The waiter suggested that we choose the tasting menu at €32 (with supplements for some of the dishes, it came to €35 each in the end). Happy to delegate decision-making to the chef, we concurred.
Then began the onslaught of small plates to be shared among us – no fewer than 10 of them – each one inventive, delicious and made with sparkling fresh, high-quality ingredients. Perhaps what was most impressive, however, was that each one was different from the others, and there was no repetition of garnishes.
Rather than give you a long list, I will focus on a few of our favorites.
We all loved the pouces-pieds (gooseneck barnacles), not only for the mild, briny flavor of the rather obscene-looking little sprout of flesh each provides after being broken open (often showering your neighbor or squirting you in the eye) but also for their hideous, prehistoric appearance, like the toenails of the Loch Ness monster. They were served with Bordier butter (one of the best) with seaweed, which was wonderful with the crusty bread.
The marinated sardines from Saint Jean de Luz came with creative accompaniments: beetroot purée (a nice counterpoint to the sardines), rayu sauce (Asian chili sauce), mizuna (Japanese mustard greens) and dill flowers.
The bonito, also from Saint Jean de Luz, was deliciously paired with citrus-based ponzu sauce, burrata cream, rhubarb pickles and shiso (a savory herb). None of them overwhelmed the fresh, clean flavor of the fish.
Another marinated raw fish, horse-mackerel ceviche, was treated differently, with bottarga (dried fish eggs), aster and coriander, and was topped with beautiful blood-red peaches.
The list goes on, but I will stop there. Suffice it to say that each dish was great.
There was one dessert on the menu, so naturally we ordered it: a delightful génoise (sponge) cake with plums, whipped cream and marjoram.
I have only a couple of tiny bones to pick with Sur Mer. First, we had to ask for plates, which were needed to avoid making a total mess of the table, and once we got them, we were warned by the waiter that they wouldn’t be changed because they “didn’t have enough dishes.”
Second, no thought was given to how five people could share the varied numbers of pieces on each dish. The most ridiculous was a plate with four shrimps (we asked for and were given another).
Those are minor complaints, however. I was terribly impressed by how reasonable the price per person was for all those dishes, especially given the high cost of fish today, and by the creativity, quality and intense work that went into each dish.