L'Aromatik Bistro, Alice Waters & Les Fougeres Buzz

By Margaret Kemp

Jean-Charles Mounie of L'AromatikWhat ever wouId sculptor Jean-Baptiste Pigalle (1714-1785) think of the Paris street named after him, slap bang in the red light area? Did you ever stop to think that rue Jean-Baptiste Pigalle was not only a very long street, but also a person (without the rue in front of the name, of course, do I have to tell you everything)? He may have been a bit of a dark horse; his 1776 nude statue of Voltaire must have frizzled a few periwigs, nudge, nudge.

The rue runs from Place Pigalle, home of Le Moulin Rouge, and passes not very charming hotels, bars, and computer repair shops, and then just when you're getting really bored up comes L'Aromatik. What attracts you to this lovely little bistro is the constant stream of punters arriving. If you haven't booked you may have to wait at the bar, but why not, there's a lovely wine list and owner Jean-Charles Mounié will chat with you until a table's free.

Mounié took over suddenly last summer; a pro in the restaurant business, he knew exactly what he wanted to do with the charming “between the wars” style space that was once a mercerie (haberdashery). He calls his concept “cuisine nomade”, food inspired by his travels and the globe trotting of his chef, Normandy-born Bertrand Martin, who quit Costes to head L'Aromatik's tiny kitchen because, “I want to know what it's like being a real chef.”

L'Aromatik's philosophy is sustainable stuff: essential oils, natural spices and a bio-wine card with 13 wines labeled Agriculture Biologique. The oils come from www.artisannature.fr and are used in dishes such as blanquette de lotte à l'essence de cardomone and Le Macaron citron à l'huile essential de verveine. Bread comes from www.lautreboulange.com.

If you're looking down JB Pigalle from your atelier in the sky I'm sure you approve – even if there's not a naked statue in sight.

L'Aromatik

7 rue Jean-Baptiste Pigalle 9th

T: 01 48 74 62 27

Metro: Trinité

Open 7/7

Sunday Brunch Formulas

11-17hrs from 13€ (children) to 24€

including a glass of wine

Weekday lunch formula 15€90

Dinner 3 dishes 35€

www.laromatik.com

 

Alice Waters, creator of Chez Panisse restaurant, Berkeley, California, will be dubbed with France's highest award this Friday, Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur. The last American women to receive a Légion d'Honneur for gastronomy was Julia Child – played so powerfully by Meryl Streep in the film Julie, Julia, written and directed by Nora Ephron.

Ms Waters' 10th Cookbook – In the Green Kitchen – is published by Clarkson Potter April 6th.

Les Femmes sont le Printemps de l'humanité – vive les femmes, vive le printemps.

www.chezpanisse.com

 

After graduating from the prestigious Ecole Supérieure de cuisine Ferrandi, Stéphane Duchiron cheffed chez Jaques Lameloise, Stéphane Raimbault at l'Oasis, La Napoule, Guy Savoy and Roland Durand at Passiflore. The talented and passionate chef launched Les Fougères in June 2006.

Where:

10 rue Villebois-Mareuil, 17th

T: 01 40 68 78 66

www.restaurant-les-fougeres.fr

Shut Sat-Sun

Lunchtime deal:

Market menu just slashed in line with TVA to 22€ for Starter/Main or Main/Dessert

Or 3-courses at 36€ + wine. Dinner 6 dishes Menu Découverte is 6 dishes, according to the market. A La Carte average spend: 65€ + wine

Are they pleased to see you?

They're your new best friends. Cyril LeTailleur is Chef Sommelier and Maitre d'hotel; his welcome is warm as a Spring day.

Is the restaurant attractive?

Just 30 covers, it's on one level, with alcoves towards the back for privacy. The décor reflects the name: fougères are green ferns, so Agnès, the Mrs., has created a forest of green, chestnut and cream décor, very fresh and zen. Granny Smith apples decorate the tables.

What about the food?

The menu changes often, and chef has a thing about eggs, his signature.

Variation on a theme of, say, L'Oeuf de poule mollet tiède au chorizo Bellotta, roquette et pommes Amandines écrasées or L'Oeuf de poule mollet aux girolles de Sologne et jus de lard fumé. Duchiron's favourite dish is Petit Salé aux lentilles, a childhood memory; he says each generation adds a new spin to this classic French dish. Ormeaux du Cotentin juste poêlés aux topinambours fondants et huile de noisette are an unusual and delicious starter (see photo). This is the finest seaweed-fed Abalone BUZZ has ever tasted. Pigeonneau rôti et confit faҫon Becasse (woodcock), risotto aux olives noires, tomates séchées et jus makes a great main paired with Chantal Lescure's 2007 Beaune 1er Cru Chouacteaux (45€). There's a nice one Cyril wine list with about 150 references.

Just Desserts?

Choice of cheese, Stilton, Tomme de Savoie, Gruyere Suisse with salad. Warm honey madeleines (Gran's recipe). Sablé de Pommes Reinette Clochard à la badiane et crème glacée au caramel. Petits pots de glaces et sorbets. Le café Gourmand. Nages de fruits exotique. Savarin au Limoncello de Sicile.......dream on baby.


Can't get to Paris? Savor a taste of France at home with ZChocolat gourmet chocolates and wines from Wine.com, which has one of the biggest selections of wine on the internet.


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