We have heard soooo much about L'Agapé Substance that we had to try it. The buzz was all around that it was one of the most highly anticipated 2011 restaurant openings in Paris, the new L’Agape Substance was one of the most exciting new contemporary French dining venues in the city.
It was a lovely Parisian night with good weather; the streets of St. Germain was swarming with people having drinks on the side walks as we leisurely walked to our dinner destination. L'Agapé Substance is tucked away in a sleek, modern and intimate space in Paris’ Saint Germain district. The restaurant was so discrete that I walked passed it at first. The front windows are frosted so I actually did not see or even notice that it was a restaurant.
Once entering the restaurant; we noticed how small but long the space is. Another aspect of the place is that it is very modern in design. Steel, glass & wood. With only 24 seats, no wonder you have to reserve a table several weeks in advance. All the tables & chairs are raised so it is like counter sitting.
The highly talented young chef, David Toutain, brings serious cooking credentials to the table through his time working in some of the world’s best kitchens – from the incredibly famous Marc Veyrat, to L’Arpege, Mugaritz and New York’s Corton.
L'Agapé Substance only offers a 'carte blanche' 14 course dinner menu (11 savoury & 3 sweet) at 99 euros (not including wine)....OUCH! But hey; we are in Paris, its a lovely evening, the reviews have been fantastic and we live once...so why not INDULGE?
The amuse bouche was Persil; an aromatic plant of the Jura made into a sponge and mousse.
The next dish was Gazpacho with basilic powder and a wild root of liquorice.
The next dish was a Perfectly cooked Fresh hen egg, verveine foam and fresh almond.
The next dish was Spoonful of delectable Crab, consommé of North sea grey shrimp & pomplemousse confit.
The next dish was Oyster topped with pain grillé mousse.
The next dish was Green beans, eel with red miso.
The next dish was Baby carrot with an emulsion of galangal & carrot leaves.
The wine that accompanied our meal was a 2009 Morgan.
The next dish was Filet de Rouget with artichoke & miel doux.
The next dish was Seasonal mushrooms with fresh hazel nuts.
The next dish was Pigeon with emulsion of corn, turnip and wild cumin.
The break in the meal was Laguiole.
The pre-dessert was Pear and salt.
The pre-pre-dessert was Basil cream with red fruits and a ginger biscuit.
The dessert was Chocolate dirt.
Because the restaurant was long and narrow; they did something that was very clever and something I have not seen in Paris...mirrors on the ceiling so that customers can see the chefs making their masterpieces. A great talking point and entertaining part of the evening.
Overall; Chef Toutain brought equal measures of creativity, technical precision, surprise and restraint throughout the delicious evening “carte blanche” tasting menu which showcases the season’s finest ingredients.
Like gastronomic ninjas, the black-clad chefs construct exquisite creations in the state-of-the-art open kitchen; it was amazing how silent and graceful they were at work. The food was amazingly delicious...be it the crab with grey shrimp consommé; or a melt-in-your-mouth rouget; all the dishes were cooked to perfection. The fresh ingredients, herbs & spices were thought-out and added great contrast of taste & flavours in each dish. The multiple desert courses were equally interesting, beautiful & sublime.
The service is spot on (though I thought a bit pushy on the expensive wines rather than suggesting something that more accompanies the food), very friendly and patiently explained all the dishes to the excited customers. They were also playful by showing or demonstrating the fresh herbs they were using.
I thought the lighting in the room was waaayyy to bright (which was great for my photo taking) so making the atmosphere in the room more harsh, which is already cold from the modern decor. The high tables & chairs does add more drama to the whole experience but since our dinners last for up to three hours; it is not comfortable at the end.
An amazing experience just because it was so different. However; I have to say this was the most expensive dinner we have had a in long time in Paris. A 99 euro 'carte blanche' menu is a rarity in terms what we are willing to pay for...comparing to all the places we often go to. But; we just had to experience this once and it was so worth it.
Address: 66 rue Mazarine, 75006
Tel.: 01 43 29 33 83
Open Tuesday to Saturday for lunch and dinner