One of the trends in cooking this year has been an emphasis on well-sourced products—often local, sometimes wild—and cooking techniques that bring out the best of an ingredient’s natural flavour; at his recently opened Septime, Bertrand Grébaut reminds us that in expert hands, French cooking can transform the best ingredients into something even better.
After having spent 2 years at Arpège, Alain Passard’s three-star restaurant in the 7th, Grébaut went on to earn a star of his own at Agapé, a posh restaurant in Paris’s 17th arrondissement, which caters to a well-to-do crowd. At Septime, he brings the cooking techniques he honed at Arpège, to the 11th arrondissement, a younger, edgier part of town. The atmosphere-young, modern, a bit industrial–fits in well with the lively working class neighbourhood and with Grébaut’s desire to “democratise haute cuisine”.
On a recent visit with friends we decided on the 55 € tasting menu, a bargain considering the quality of the ingredients and cooking. The first course, beautiful white asparagus served with an oyster-infused sauce Gribiche—the classical French mayonnaise made with chopped egg, cornichons, capers, parsley, chervil, and tarragon—was stunning and set the tone for dishes to come.
Next came a wonderfully light gnocchetti with delicious crème de maïs, aged Gouda and beautiful elder flowers. It left our table speechless, it was that good.
We were then served a poulet jaune with orache and mustard leaves. I rarely order chicken in restaurants, too often it’s dry and tasteless, but Grébaut’s chicken was succulent and deeply flavoured. The Banka trout, served with green asparagus and a red wine sauce, was equally good.
We all agreed it was one of the best meals we had eaten in a long time. We loved everything-the food, the wines, and the service, which was exceptionally charming for Paris. In short, Septime is a great restaurant. Affordable, fun, with first-rate products and cooking, I don’t think I could ask for anything more.
80 rue de Charonne, 75011
Open for lunch and dinner Tuesday-Friday, dinner only Saturday; Closed Mondays
01 43 67 38 29
Lunch menu: 2 courses for 21 €, 3 for 26 €: Carte blanche dinner menu 55 €.