Wednesday, January 30, 2013
Septime (Paris) 01/2013
It is hardly a distinction to point out that there is not one restaurant in the 11th Arrondisement that has gained even one Michelin star but Septime, a relative newcomer to the area serves a unique and inventive ever changing menu of 'good' food. Under the baton of Chef Bertrand Grebaut the menu changes daily, sometimes even between lunch and dinner. From the patron's point of view this makes specific menu recommendations impossible. The menu at night is a prix fixee (Eu55) for a 5 course meal, reduced to Eu 26 I think, for a 3 course lunch (Tuesday to Friday). They have several small dishes available as starters and an extra cheese plate (Eu8) can be added. They do not serve extra's, amuse bouche or whatever. Water is served in old brandy bottles.
Service is very good with plenty of wait staff who are extremely helpful. They have an interesting seven page wine list and wine by the glass is not listed but arranged by consulting the a waiter. I drank a surprisingly pleasant light and smooth red Les Roches Seches (The dry rocks) Les Saint Martin (Eu8/glass) 2011 which retails at about Eu13.5 / bottle.
Waiters appear not to be specifically designated to tables so four different waiters served me. All were extremely accommodating to my frequent questions.
Tables are smallish bare wood with one for eight people and the rest for two but they can easily be moved.
The room is 'neo-industrial' with peeling plaster, cement walls and wood floors. Noise levels vary with the patrons but can be considerable. The place is always pretty well full so reservations are highly desirable.
Bread is light sour dough with soft centre and crunchy crust.
The meal began with Veau de lait smoked ricotta, trout caviar, mustard herbs oca and bread crumbs. Oca (Oxalis tuberosa), one of the 'Lost Crops' of the Incas, has been described as The high energy, super versatile vegetable of the ancient Incas' and is second to the potato as the favourite root vegetable in Bolivia and Peru. I'm not sure why. It had a crunchy texture and an inoffensive taste. It was, however, only one element in quite a complicated dish with a combination of unusual textures and tastes, crisp, crunchy bread crumbs, and oca, chewy ravioli like covering over the soft cheese., a remarkable dish.
Bettergraves,(Beet) both red and yellow with salt, smoked Magret duck, red wine sauce, beetroot sorbet with foie gras., (duck not goose) and sevasin seeds. Prettily presented the foie gras beetroot puree was extraordinary. The remainder of the dish again characterized by interesting and well matched flavours was also pleasing with the seeds providing a satisfying extra crunch. Another fine dish.
Seared St. Jaques (scallops with seared cabbage and Brussel sprouts came with a superb almond and butter sauce. The scallops were perfect, barely cooked, sweet and delicate. This contrasted poorly with the powerful taste of the sprouts. The cabbage did not much affect the over all dish but it was not a good combination.
Slices of crispy skinned moist chicken breast with scorched lemon, a little lightly cooked delicious chicken liver endive and crosne. This is another vegetable I have never seen before. Originating in Japan it got it's name from the French town where it was first cultivated. It is a perennial, only a few centimetres long, it is a pearly white twisted, carrot shaped tuber crunchy but with very little taste. I found the lemon a little odd in this strange dish but it was an experience to eat chicken in this way.
A plate of cheese, Bleu de laccueil and a handsome sliceof St.Nectaire were both light and irresistible. Damn the cholesterol.
The dessert was a beetroot sorbet, meringue, dried slices of tangerine with some olive oil and vanilla cream Anglaise. I loved it but one could take exception to the olive oil.
As every dinner is different, and the menu is set, with no choice, one can not promise it will be a totally enjoyable experience but I'd bet it will be.
Score:: 15.5 /20