We were on Bugeaud Avenue, tyring to walk as fast as we could with hungry stomachs that made us daydream about our momentous rendezvous arranged weeks before. Needed to take longer steps for not being late. But…Oh my… where was the building with number 16? Were we on the wrong way? Might there be another Bugeaud Avenue on 16th arrondissement? Kept on walking… and yes…Finally, I could read the word “La Table” written on the black sunshade and saw the golden colored wrought iron door. We were so close.
This is one of the two restaurants of the world class French celebrity chef, Joël Robuchon, who had a worldwide record for gaining 26 Michelin stars in total. Robuchon was such a talented chef that at the age of 29 he was responsible for the kitchen of a well known Parisian Hotel, managing 90 cooks. Travelling around the world and discovering new techniques broadened his vision of cooking. He also hosted a TV show for ten years to introduce his refined cuisine approach with simple recipes for home cooks.
After a warm greeting at the door, we proceeded to our table accompanied by one of the waiters. Interior of this peaceful dining room had an elegant sytle with black and golden colored details around. Despite its formal attire at first sight, ambient was quite comfortable and welcoming.
The only thing I had difficulty in comprehending is that the given menu was strictly French, with no English version. So it would be rewarding to add some culinary related French words to your vocabulary before you pay a visit. Nonetheless, staff is fluent in English so you’ll figure it out. Nobody should anticipate you to know the meaning of “le lieu jaune” by heart, right?
Right after giving orders, our gourmet parade commenced with a few delectable amuse bouches followed by a green asparagus soup with parmesan crutons served in a cappuccino cup. Soup was really divine to make us grow impatient for the rest of this delectable journey ahead.
While I was enjoying my soup, another beauty was on the way: an eggplant confit with cumin. This dish surprises you with its fancy presentation but its taste does not stay in shadow of its looks. Cumin gave the essential kick required . My selection for the main course was the sea bream baked with a layer of potatoes and steamed baby leeks and chorizo underneath. Potatoes were placed in a fish scale form which already won my heart at first sight. I love such kind of visual details on my plate. Taste wise, it was an extraordinary dish with a perfect balance of flavors. By the way, as you might expect they provide you with an extensive wine menu and there are also fine yet affordable ones on the list.
As for the desserts my absolute favorite was basil sorbet served with heavenly smelling strawberries. After having such a refreshing one, chocalate cake and ice cream went a bit on the heavy side. But having a cheese platter followed by desserts made me ready for another sweet round so I could not say no (who could?) to amazing caramels beside my coffee.
All in all, ambiance, servic e and food was superb and it’s really worth gaining the extra calories. Moreover, while you put on some weight, your wallet is slimming down a bit to keep the balance.
Our second choice for the next day was L’Agrume with one of the best up-and-coming chefs in the kitchen, Franck Marchesi-Grandi. New York Times mentioned him with praise in an article about the new clutch of Parisian chefs offering their own creative cuisine at a price most can afford.
I really made effort to make a reservation for dinner since it is a small place with limited capacity. Over the phone, hostess of the bistro shyly told me there were only two stools available just by the kitchen counter and asked whether it would be all right. Of course she would never know that there could not be a better table to be offered for us to dine.
This bistro is more like a hidden gem situated in a less visited side of fifth arrondissement. From outside there is nothing fancy or eye catching, nevertheless you feel the sincerity as you walk in. Open kitchen is the first indicator for that. Staff working in L’agrume is also extremely nice and kind so that you feel like this is a place owned by one of your friends and you know everyone for long.
We were finally seated on our stools in front of the kitchen and met with the star chef Franck while he was roasting a chunk of beaf to be served afterwards. It was one of the most exciting dining experience for me, watching the preparation steps of all the dishes I ordered. Franck was such a talented chef that he handled everthing alone. He created delectable dishes in front of our very eyes within a few minutes.
When it comes to food, slowly roasted beef ribs with courgette and green olive was the hit of the night, it was perfectly cooked, keeping all its juice inside. Poached sole fish was served with a suprising garnish; pan fried eggplant and mango which was an exraordinary combination. Sweet finale of the dinner, strawberry and crème fouettée on top of vanilla flavored feuiiletage got full point from us. That was a sort of deconstructed strawberry Napoleon with a heavenly taste.
L’Agrume is one of the prominent representatives of casual fine dining in Parisien food scenery with its fresh, well thought and creative dishes with no frills. The quality of the food against the amount you paid definitely justifies the longer metro trip you take. Bon appetit!