Any question about why this restaurant is called The Dude (not to be confused with a bar called Le Dude, located on the Rue Saint Maur) is answered as soon as you enter and see the owner. Built like Jeff Bridges, a big bear of a man, he even looks like him, but he doesn’t have the Dude’s personality and even seems a bit shy.
The Big Lebowski loved to eat, but he wasn’t exactly a gourmet. The Paris Dude certainly is: he had the good taste to hire as his chef Geoffrey Rembert, who has worked at Lazare, the Bristol and Tour d’Argent.
The “concept” here is sharing, so the five of us happily shared everything we ordered – and we ordered every single thing on the menu.
The decor is pleasingly simple and clean, with blond wood tables and black chairs and shelves.
To prove the restaurant’s quality cred, the waiter rattled off the sources of all the ingredients, so fast that it was hard to catch them. No matter – the proof is in the eating.
We basically loved all the starters and mains, some a little more than others. The inventive beet dip with hibiscus, served with rice crackers, was a big favorite, but then so were the chickpea fries and truffle “croque.”
The gua bao bread, blackened with squid ink, was used to make tiny sandwiches with a brilliantly fresh salmon gravlax, though there was no sign of the promised Chinese cabbage.
The meaty sardines were wonderful, somehow bone-free and non-oily.
Then came the onslaught of slightly more substantial “main courses.” French toast with asparagus, peas with ricotta and hazelnuts, grilled pork with peanuts, creamy quinoa with bacon, beef with cockles (a surprisingly felicitous combination), cod jazzed up with big salted capers, leeks with cockles, confit egg yolk with carrot and orange, and mixed raw and cooked vegetables. Phew! It was all original and delicious. No complaints were sounded.
The desserts were not quite so well received. They were very good, but our expectations had been raised to especially high levels. The baba was soaked with mojito rather than rum, a seemingly good idea that didn’t work, and topped with strawberries. The chocolate mousse was more like a chocolate sauce but was nicely paired with pear and buckwheat crumble. Our favorite was the Chantilly pralinée on a financier (almond cake), served with chopped pineapple.
Surprisingly, the White Russian, The Dude’s favorite drink in The Big Lebowski, is not listed on the menu. Otherwise, I think His Dudeness would love the place as much as we did.