After leaving his Aux Berges du Cerou in Salles, a tiny village (50 habitants) near Toulouse, and spending some time at the Verre Volé, Patrice Gelbart has opened Youpi et Voilà, a modern French bistro on a nondescript side street in Paris’s 10th arrondissement.
The restaurant is small and the decor simple with stone walls, a handful of dark wood tables, cherry-red leather banquettes, industrial lights, and an open kitchen where 5 lucky customers can dine while watching the chef perform.
Gelbart, a self-taught chef, is passionate about working with small local producers and the best seasonal products, many of which are organic. His cooking is subtle and creative, using generous amounts of fresh herbs and plants with a mix of textures and flavors. There are no heavy sauces, and little fat-just clean bright flavors.
As you might expect, the wines are natural, which means they are made in small quantities by an independent producer, from organic, handpicked grapes. Natural wines have no added sugar, yeasts, or sulphites. So, in short, all you are getting is the terroir, the grapes, and what the wine maker is able to express with them. At the moment they are serving some 20 wines which will change regularly in order to allow people to try wines they may not have had before.We had a Vain du Ru, a crisp, refreshing natural white wine from Gascony.
The menu is short, with a choice of 2 entrées, plats and desserts, or you can do as we did and get the four-course “menu à l’aveugle”, a blind tasting menu for 36 €. Each course is served with no explanation until the end, which had us trying to discern each flavor and guess exactly what was on our plates.
The first course was a delicate vegetable broth with squid, oysters and clams perfumed with fresh herbs which turned out to be dill and broccoli sprouts.
Then came a seared scallop with mandarin butter and velvety puree of Jerusalem artichoke.
The main course was perfectly seared veal, served with addictively good polenta and wilted spinach, blanketed with a delicious Gruyère emulsion.
Dessert was the only dish we couldn’t quite figure out. We knew it was a vegetable, but what? It turned out to be black radish served ‘rice pudding style’ with chicory ice cream. My French guy wasn’t crazy about this dish, but I liked the playful originality of the dish.
Upon leaving we got their business card which says, “cuisine philanthropique” which our waitress explained was the chef’s philosophy of bringing together the community and producers which made me like the place even more. I left feeling charmed by the atmosphere, the warm service, and obvious passion of the chef. This is a definitely a restaurant I look forward to returning to.
Youpi et Voilà
8 rue Vicq d’Azir
01 83 89 12 63
Open: Tuesday-Saturday, lunch and dinner
Menu: 36 € for 4 courses or à la carte without wine