Returning to a beloved restaurant is like seeing an old friend again after an all too long hiatus. Your memory if full of good times and delectable evenings spent lingering over a glass of champagne or wine. Filled with nostalgia you wonder – will it be the same? Could our time apart have changed everything? Will we just pick up where we left off? You are not without, perhaps rightfully so, some trepidation, because while change is good, it sometimes comes at a cost.
But what is life without shaking things up a bit?
Last February one of my favorite Paris chefs, Geoffroy Maillard, received a long-awaited, long-merited, Michelin star for his French bistro in Montmartre, La Table d’Eugene, and I knew that things were going to be different from then on. But different how? The restaurant had already gotten a facelift in preparation of being fully considered to be in the running for one of the most sort after titles. Celebrities and even the President of France himself had already dined in delight at this small, intimate eatery, so what were we to expect thereafter?
I am not one to run in front when something new comes out. I like to wait a bit to let the dust settle and the crazed frenzy come to an end. It took me a while before I went back to La Table d’Eugene. I had dined several times since in Chef Maillard’s second restaurant, the cave à manger, La Rallonge, I had not quite mustered up the courage to return to La Table d’Eugene. I had no doubt that the food would still be great but I feared that the pretension that I have experienced in some other Michelin restaurants might taint forever my perfect memory of exquisite meals.
My first assumption about their newfound success was that it would now be impossible to get a table. Perhaps it pays to know the chef, but getting my reservation on the night I wanted was not as difficult as I would have thought- considering the size of the dining room, I am ever so grateful for that fact.
I was joined by a fellow foodie who till then had never even set foot in the restaurant. We were warmly greeted by the familiar face of Catherine, a longstanding employee of La Table d’Eugene for whom the world of food service is no stranger. It was good to see her and to know that she also got to be a part of chef Maillard’s success story. Just seeing her put me at ease and marked a good start to the evening.
The dinner menu is broken up into two options, Oxalis 5 temps – a 5 course menu which in reality translated into 8 different dishes to try from amuse bouche to dessert, or Oxalis 8 temps – an 8 course menu. You could enjoy the menu alone or with the fabulous wine pairing.
What followed was a feast for the eyes and palette alike. I and my stomach thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and an old friendship was renewed.
The Amuse Bouches were masterpieces – a triumphant trio:
Gateau éponge céleri fenouil/ crème de coque/ langue de coque
émulsion burratina fumé
(Sponge cake of celery/fennel/Cream of cockles/Cockles & an emulsion of smoked burrantina cheese)
Petits pois frais/fraises fraiches/ huile de verveine/Cèpes/ foie gras/ cacao
(Fresh peas/fresh strawberries/verbena oil/Porcini mushrooms/ foie gras/ cacao powder)
If this was only a telling of what was to come, we were ready for a feast.
Let the tasting begin!
Tomates de plein champs/ Lait fermenté, infusé aux herbes/ Olives Noires
(Tomatoes (field grown)/ Fermented milk infused with herbs/Black olives)
Calamar / Chou-Fleur / Beurre Nantais / Yuzu / Riz Noir
(Calamari/cauliflower/ Beurre Nantais sauce/yuzu/Black rice)
Maigre de ligne/ Carotte Calamansi
(A variety of seabass/Calamansi carrots)
Agneau/ Baslic/ Courgette/ Ail noir/ Petits pois..
Chèvre frais/ noix/ poire safran/ caramel poivron
Fresh goat cheese/Safran pear/caramelized pepper
Then came the taste explosion:
Meringue verveine/ sorbet géranium/ Vanille/ fruits rouges
Verbena maringue/ geranium sorbet/Vanilla/ red fruits
And to end it all with delicately:
Sphère/ Chocolat/ Tonka
Chocolate & tonka bean sphere
The chocolate sauce is poured over the sphere, melting it down into a chocolately pool of goodness. I was clearly too slow in taking my photo, but I think you get the idea.
I ended my meal satiated and pleased. My old friend though not quite how I left him, was just enjoyable if not more. Chef Maillard came over to say hello and I was glowing with accolades. Bravo to everyone. I asked him if I could pop into the kitchen to say hello but also to see how they had redone that space as well. The kitchen remains small and well organized. I’m always impressed to see such great things come out of such a small space.
I have been recommending this restaurant to guests and anyone asking for years, so I’m happy to report that I will be continuing to do so without hesitation. If you are looking for a more casual taste of chef Maillard’s talents, head over to La Table d’Eugene just a few doors down.
La Table d’Eugene
18 rue Eugène Sue – 75018 Paris
Tel: +33 (0)1 42 55 61 64
Metro: Jules Joffrin, Marcadet-Poissonniers
12-2PM & 7:30PM-10:00PM
Closed Sunday & Monday
Join us in Montmartre for one of our French Cooking Classes