Palais Royal Restaurant Springs Ahead with New Chef

June 28, 2017By Heidi EllisonRestaurants

When I first ate at Zébulon soon after it opened in 2015, I loved the food by Yannick Lahopgnou, the warm welcome from co-owner Thomas Chaput and the chic but comfortable decor, complete with baby grand piano.

When I went back with the same food-blogger friend last week, only one thing had changed, a very important one: a new chef, Takashi Aoki, is now in charge of the kitchen, and we were there to test-drive his cooking.

It was a good ride right from the start, with solicitous service from a young waiter and an interesting cool soup for a hot day from the €28 menu (three courses) for the first course. It was melon soup with cucumber celery and a dab of goat cheese on a floating slice of toast, topped with tiny flowers and slivered almonds. Just slightly sweet from the melon, it was a treat.

I confess that we had a few extras, probably because my friend was known to the owner, but it also gave us a peek at more of the chef’s talents. An entremet of melt-in-the-mouth langoustine with asparagus and grapefruit was positively exquisite.

It was followed, for me, by an incredibly flavorful, falling-apart-tender piece of lamb, served with a purée of chickpeas and grilled eggplant, highly suitable accompaniments.

My friend ordered the lamb à la carte. It came in two forms: gigot and confit shoulder.  Both were extremely delicious in their different ways. It was served with crunchy cubes of lotus, something I had never tasted before and loved, especially as it was prepared here, and of Granny Smith apple. An excellent gravy brought it all together.

The dessert was pure delight: pain de Gênes (almond cake) with cherry mousse topping, a row of succulent cherries and lemon sorbet, tangy with zest.

We were then treated to more goodies with our coffee: a pineapple pâte de fruit, a stunningly good chocolate ganache and a little chocolate cup with tonka-bean-flavored cream and Gariguette strawberries.

The new chef was a big hit with both of us, and I was happy to find out soon after what had become of the previous chef. More on that next week…


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