We tried two times this year to get a reservation for 'THE' restaurant in Paris right now. Oh; did I mention 'THE' restaurant of Paris right now? We actually first tried in January 2010 for a table in April...not possible, we tried in May for a table in September...not possible. So; we thought why not try again and get turned down again. We were used to it...but we got a shock! La Bigarrade called us and said that our reservation for lunch was confirmed. Yeeepeeeee!!!
Le Bigarrade restaurant in Paris’ Batignolles quarter is an example of the excitement that happens when an accomplished chef, in this case Christophe Pele, leaves the nest, the Royal Monceau, to risk opening his own restaurant with a new team and stamped with his own personality (www.toptable.com).
The tiny, colourful room has just 20 seats, each one with a view of the open kitchen where chef Pele creates his gastronomic market-led, inspiration-led cuisine that offers the diner no choice except to enjoy.
This 2-Star Michelin award-winner is standing out amongst the all-stars as Paris’s chef to watch. Yet with all the buzz of this restaurant; it is actually a cozy, easy-going and comfy place to dine. There were no jet-setters, hi-so or fashionistas the day we came for lunch. There were just people who looked liked they knew they were in a treat at a restaurant that offers incredibly well-priced lunch menu that include 12 dishes (65 euros).
Of course we took the menu but we also splurged and took the Wine menu (35 euros). We never drink for lunch; but the wines looked really good, so we could not resist.
The first slate that came out was home baked focaccia with olive oil. The focaccia was so so, but the olive oil was spicy & flavourful.
The first amuse bouche was Deep fried soft shell crab. Nicely deep fried to a dark golden brown. The crab was slightly crispy on the outside and very tender & hot inside. We then had to suck on the grilled line with a pinch of rock salt. A lovely starter.
The next dish was Oyster wrapped with speck and a Squash soup. The soup was rich & creamy and full of flavour. The oyster with the speck was unusual but it actually worked. The blend sea saltiness with land saltiness as well as the the blend of textures was clever. Oh, it also tasted yummy.
The next dish was Miso soup soba noodles & white truffle. The miso was very light in flavour (not a good thing) and the white truffle was not even recognisable. A good try though.
The next dish was St. Jacque with raw cauliflower & anchovy. The scallops were so fresh and cooked perfectly. I loved the raw cauliflower on top with the anchovy. Sometimes; just the basic & little things like this makes dishes stand out so much more.
The next dish was Abalone with shitake mushrooms. We seldom get abalone on a French menu. So this was a treat. The abalone was fresh and full of flavour. The shitake mushrooms added texture and flavour.
The next dish was St. Pierre with a hare bouillon. The fish was cooked perfectly and the interesting & unique hare bouillon went so well with the fish. Who would have thought that fish & hare actually were a perfect match.
The next dish was Pork belly on top spinach with hazelnuts with a tuna mustard. The pork was so tender, juicy & tasted great. But what was the subject of discussion was the sheet of tuna mustard. It was unusual, it was salty and it was interesting.
The next dish was a cheese platter. The cheeses were of very good quality, they had good texture and tasted really good.
The medley of pre-desserts: Lychee truffle & apple, Panacota celery, Mandarin mushroom and Coffee Beetroot. This was the first time we had a blend of vegetable & fruit dessert. I thought this was a very clever way to bridge the main meal and lead into the main desserts. The desserts were a brilliant idea of savoury with sweet, exotic with basic or colour & texture. These for sure were not the everyday desserts we are used to. I actually enjoyed the blend of tastes, flavours and textures.
The main desserts were ginger spiced cake, chocolate cake & ice-cream. The desserts were a combination of textures and tastes. The chef was still being clever by making sure our tastes buds were excited until the very end.
Dacquoise cakes filled with framboise & cream to go with the coffee. These cakes that look like macaroons but were so much better. They were more moist, soft & flavourful. A heavenly treat.
Overall; absolutely amazing, wonderful & delicious. The concept was very clever. The restaurant almost forces every table to arrive at the restaurant around 12:30 - 13:00 (no later than that)! The reason is quite simple...as you have seen by the photos; the chef wants to co-ordinate & have the precision of time for the cooking and serving of the many dishes. Any table that arrives later than than that will of course ruin the flow & harmony of the service.
The lunch lasted four hours...yes, you read right...four delicious hours. One beautiful dish after another kept coming out with a different glass of wine to accompany it, we never wanted it to stop. Due to the longevity and pacing of the lunch..with all that food & wine; we did not feel 'stuffed' or drunk. What a perfect lunch.
The total bill came to 259 euros (two menu midi at 130 euros, eau minérale at 7 euros, two verre de vin at 20 euros - yes, we drink a lot -, accords mets & vins at 90 euros and two cafe at 12 euros). Not bad at all for the quality but for sure the experience. Hope we can get a reservation in the near future!
106, rue Nollet
Tel.: 01 42 26 01 02