No-Choice Bistro Fare
With Extra Flair
Youpi et Voilà’s decor conforms to the Parisian gourmet bistro codes.
I thought I had the wrong address. The blank glass facade looked like it belonged to one of those Parisian cafés frequented exclusively by a handful of men drinking beer and playing cards all day, not what had been described to me as one of Paris’s hottest new bistros. But then I spotted “Youpi et Voilà” written in tiny letters on the door handle, so I went in. One look at the white-painted open kitchen in the back, freshly exposed stone wall on the left, simple wooden tables, shelves of wine bottles and wine poster, and I knew I was in the right place: these are the decorative codes of Parisian gourmet bistro.
My friends were waiting for me. We didn’t waste any time perusing the menu, because there is none. Everyone eats the same thing in the evening at Youpi et Voilà: two starters, a main course and dessert for €36.
We did have a choice of wine, sort of. The waiter offered to select something for us – it turned out to be a lovely 2010 Pouilly-Fuissé from Domaine Combiers – but he used that old trick of not telling us the price, a trap to watch out for, especially in touristy restaurants, where it can cost you (they are counting on you being too embarrassed or timid to ask the price). I asked, and it was €29, which we agreed to. Later however, when we ordered some red wine, he did the same thing, and we forgot to ask. The Côte de Py Morgon turned out to be €39. It was excellent, but cost more than we wanted to spend. The waiter also neglected to ask if there was anything any of us couldn’t eat – the usual procedure in restaurants with a no-choice menu – so we had to call him back to tell him that one of our party of four was allergic to nuts and chocolate. Luckily, they weren’t included in any of that evening’s dishes.
On to the food. The first course was a winner: buffalo mozzarella topped with bits of féra, a
lake whitefish, whose smoky flavor was a great foil for the bland cheese, as was the zingy tartness of a piece of roasted rhubarb. The light acidity of the “eau de tomate” brought it all together beautifully.
That was followed by a fish course: barely cooked bonito from Saint Jean de Luz,
pickled onions, fresh peas, a couple of cherry halves, raspberry “ketchup,” another “eau” (cucumber, this time) and some little purple flowers to make the colorful presentation even prettier. The general consensus was that the various ingredients did not ricochet off each other as they should, but I thought all the separate ingredients were quite tasty, especially the tuna.
The meat course was filet mignon de cochon with a spelt risotto, a stalk of asparagus, more
peas, red pepper and an amazingly delicious chunk of turnip. The risotto didn’t ring any bells, but the pork was extremely succulent and flavorful.
The dessert was also very fine – out-of-season but still sweet raspberries and strawberries
with a spoonful of saffron ice cream and crumbled speculoos (spice cookies) – but we all thought a little more trouble could have been taken to make it something special.
The portions were modest, but totally sufficient in my book. Self-taught chef Patrice Gelbart puts a lot of care into attractive presentation, perfect preparation and high-quality ingredients, but perhaps needs to think about making the combinations of ingredients a tad more exciting. Still, it’s hard to fault his cooking.
Youpi et Voilà can definitely (and loudly) be faulted on one count, however: noise levels, which are on the verge of unbearable.
Youpi et Voilà: 8, rue Vicq d’Azir, 75010 Paris, Métro: Colonel Fabien. Tel.: 01 83 89 12 63. Open Tuesday-Saturday for lunch and dinner. Fixed-price dinner menu (no choice): €36. Lunch menus: €20-€25.
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© 2012 Paris UpdateFavorite