Restaurant David Toutain, Paris

Enjoy of meal of the senses at David Toutain in Paris, France. No need to break the bank to try some delicious food. For €42 you can enjoy a three-course meal, midday.
By Mitch Weinstein

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On our recent vacation in Paris, Significant Eater and I had lunch at David Toutain’s brand-newish restaurant (opened December, 2013) in the 7th.  We generally don’t dine in this neck of the woods – its pretty hoity-toity, if you know what I mean. But that doesn’t mean we don’t like heading over to this neck of the woods…after all, you have to in order to see a few of the sights Paris is famous for.

So, after reading much of the breathless praise lavished on Toutain’s new venture, I added it to our dining schedule; dining being the only thing I actually schedule. David Toutain is one of Paris’ most lauded chefs – his resume includes stints at Mugaritz, L’Arpège and Corton; we’re not talking a 3-week stage at Noma, if you know what I mean.

Amazingly, there’s a 3-course lunch menu on offer for €42; there are 2 or 3 more expensive menus on offer as well, but at this point in our lives, 3-course lunches, especially if dinner plans have been made, are what we like to do. My food geekery was in full swing as soon as we were seated next to a bookshelf loaded with, well, books like this…

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Yep, that’s the French version of Modernist Cuisine.  And then the games began, with our first amuse…

Pictured first in this article, you’re looking at a pretty cool presentation of a salsify and parsnip cream in the edible tubes, meant to be dipped into the dollop of white chocolate emulsion; strange and strangely delicious. What followed was a more traditional amuse, a bite of beef tartare, with wild strawberries and hazelnut crunch.

Then we started our 3 actual courses, with this asparagus velouté, topped with a perfect 62°C egg.

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As her soup course drew to a close, Sig Eater actually asked me if it was ok to lick the bowl.  Me, being the proper sort of person I am, said no – but the quite great bread was used to the same effect. The following mid-course appears to have been on the menu for a while, but we’d never tasted a such a combo – smoked eel served atop a black sesame emulsion. Hidden in the emulsion was a brunoise of green apple, adding a nice, tart, crunchy counterpoint to the richness of the eel and sesame.

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Our main course followed, and it was a simple monkfish dish. Well, simple if you mean perfect monkfish served with roasted black carrot, orange carrot purée and orange reduction, amongst the swirls and swishes.

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The palate cleanser was something in between a sorbet and ice cream, and since I don’t remember what is was called, I’ll just point out that it was a cauliflower/coconut thing, and it preceded this mille-feuille.  Our fantastic waiter/manager person (who had recently spent a year in San Francisco working at some of the top restaurants there) explained that the mille-feuille was actually baked in a waffle iron, giving it a different look than a traditional one. The cream is marjoram, the sorbet quenelle is cocoa. The whole was freaking delicious.

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Of course, no 3-course meal is complete without mignardises, as they send you off onto the streets of Paris, to think about what a great experience you just had.

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