Seize au seize Buzz

By Margaret Kemp  
A fortune was spent creating Ghislaine Arabian’s eponymous canteen in the BCBG 16th. You know women, GA had to have the best of everything and she got it, because the lady is a very talented chef. Nobody knows where the hell she is now, some say Japan. She just walked out – leaving GA "the restaurant" – who knows, maybe she had a bad soufflé day. Anyway soon after the dramatic departure Théodore Margellos, the serial restaurant backer, owner of GA, appointed Frédéric Simonin, ex-Le Meurice and Taillevent, as head honcho. He knows the kitchen well as he served under GA; so did most of the present équipe now creating great food.

It’s almost lik, OK, you can come out now, all’s calm in the canteen, the GA memorabilia has disappeared, and the joint is jumping, think neighbourhood brasserie with hip attitude; very professional. When Brits eat in a restaurant like Seize au Seize they sit back after a smashing 35€ lunch and it goes something like this: "Muriel, why can’t we do the same in London/Manchester/Leeds?" Muriel, a little flushed from the 1997 Ridge Petite Syrah, doesn’t understand either. "Must be something different in the air, dear," is all she can come up with. "Anyway, Eurostar’s so quick, I’d rather pop over here anytime, the Stephane Kelian shoes are cheaper and they stock my size," declares Muriel.

Simonin’s short modern menu is simple and incorporates seasonal specialities: four starters explained as L’Asperge, Le Pigeon, Les Legumes and Le Foie Gras des Landes. Now that’s a mini French lesson, before you get to the delicious task of eating. Three meaty mains: Le Canard, Le Veau du Centre (attention, this feeds four, or one starving American); L’Agneau, and so on, four fine fish mains, La Langoustine, Le Bar, La Sole, Le Saint Pierre, all are tasty as can be. Le Saint Pierre is flavoured with séchouan spices and dotted with jambon Bellota Bellota. Only the best, freshest ingredients, a joy to eat. Cheese is from Madame Cantin and four stunning desserts by patissier Francois Benot. Get L’Assiette du Seize au Seize and your French is perfect


Seize au Seize
16 avenue Bugeaud, 16th,
Metro: Victor Hugo.
Valet Parking
T: 01 56 28 16 16

For me, bread makes or breaks my meal. The first thing I do when the bread arrives in a restaurant is qvech  it to see if it’s warm; it should be. Even if they bought it from Casino supermarket it doesn’t take a second to nuke it in the microwave. Have you noticed how bread is the “it” product of the moment? The French have realised that ze sandwich is a great invention--witness them wandering along at lunchtime spilling bits of jambon from mile-long baguette sandwiches. You can tell a good one from the line of pigeons following in their wake.

Everyone has their favourite bread/bakery.  Some cross Paris for Poujarin, although he’s so dishy, they’re probably after more than his basic baguette, or his giant macaroons! This weeks’ Figaro magazine wrote “ca bouge dans la boulange” which is hip for “bread is soooo now”. I suppose it has to do with the French seeming to spend less time in the kitchen, more time de-frosting fabulous Picard frozen foods and actually finding out that there is a life other than rushing home to whip up an intriguingly spiced octopus or a blanc manger topped with caviar on a bed of…..oh you get the picture.

So, the other day I’m, blinking into the sunlight, having just had a session with the optician. I blink again. There, where once stood a dull but functional bakery, in gleaming hip modern lights, is the name ERIC KAYSER. Yum; sensational. He’s the one who linked up with Alain Ducasse and together they created BE.BoulangerieEpicierie on Boulevard Courcelles, in the 17th.  Kayser’s gone solo on this one, got the traditional old biddies behind the counter, whose girths bear witness to the fact that they’ve tasted everything in sight and then some. Here you can eat breakfast, buy the daily bread, that’s if you don’t have an anxiety attack choosing from the 60 hot ones available, eat a plat du jour (15€), drink a glass of wine and make new BF’s; everybody wants to talk about how brilliant they are to have discovered Kayser’s kaff. “It’s a boulangerie of the 3rd millennium,” declares one old boy. Now Sting, did you know every dish you make (I’ll be loving you), every cake you bake has a suitable bread? Ciabatta with the tomates mozzarella, hot cheese bread with the mesclun aux herbes, pain au sarrasin for the salmon, and a petit pain with zests of orange – wait for it – with the poisson cru mariné bien sûr. Of course you did! But now you don’t have to waste time baking it – let Kayser get up a 3 in the morning.

Kayser, boulangerestaurant,
85 boulevard Malesherbes, 8th.
Shut Sunday – Open 7h-18 for restaurant – Bakery open ‘til 20hrs.
Métro: Saint-Augustin

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