There was something decidedly poignant about arriving at 6 rue Bailleul, an address in a small rue des Halles in the heart of Paris, on an Indian summer day. This vest pocket space was created by Chicago-born chef Daniel Rose for his restaurant Spring nearly 20 years ago, and at the time it was one of the hardest reservations to land in the city. French capital. Eventually, Rose shut it down and went to cook at Le Coucou in New York.
Today, it is the incubator of another remarkable young talent, chef Tom Meyer, 29, former sous-chef to Anne-Sophie Pic at her three-Michelin-starred restaurant in Valence and finalist of the Bocuse d’ Or cooking competition in Lyon. Meyer was recruited by restaurateur Stéphane Manigold, who is now one of the most discerning judges of culinary talent in the French capital (his other restaurants include the superb Substance, Contraste, Maison Rostang and Bistrot Flaubert).
Having lunch with a friend, we were mesmerized by the balletic grace of the team of seven working in the small open kitchen a few steps from our table. Their intense focus was as fascinating as their ability to stay almost heroically coordinated in such a compact space. In retrospect, their silence was also remarkable, since the only sound we heard during our spectacular meal was the soft voice of our very charming waitress.
Granite is the biggest opening in Paris this year for a variety of reasons. It signals a changing of the guard as a new generation of chefs like Tom Meyer are hired to take over the kitchens of Paris, and it’s one of the most ambitious launches of what I would describe cautiously but hopefully as the post-Covid era of French cuisine. Namely, the trauma of the pandemic has definitely changed our appetites and what we want to eat. But how? That’s what we discovered during a meal so lyrically delicious and beautiful that I still think about it the way one thinks about a great poem long after reading it.
Our first course was a grilled boletus with sabayon-flavoured meadowsweet, wild herb and a heavily reduced mushroom jus and white miso sauce. If you allow a literary reference here, that dish would be John Keats In autumn, since it expressed the season with such a delicate and umami earthy side. Next came the sardines with green beans, matcha-seasoned pistachio oil and seaweed salad, an intriguing cameo of tastes that worked with the precision of a Swiss watch although it initially seemed somewhat incongruous.
A giant gnocchi stuffed with steamed seashells and topped with cockles in a lemony sauce, fennel springs and Vietnamese cilantro was nice, but expecting something firmer, none of us liked it very much. pasty texture. Sea bream with kale in apple juice with a jelly of lovage was a charming and seductively elegant dish, however, then Meyer flexed his muscles with sublime roast pigeon in a sauce of his own juices deeply reduced with green cardamom and combawa, topped with puffed millet and cocoa nibs. Earthy and sensual, it was a dish that could have delighted Lord Byron. The desserts started with homemade rice pudding wrapped in a rice roll with mirabelle plums simmered with yellow winea sexy nod to the chef’s native region of Jura in eastern France, then a lush cold mousse of Belizean chocolate, with glasswort and a hot chocolate sauce infused with lemon and orange leaves .
So what we want now, according to Meyer, are sensuous yet wholesome dishes that celebrate the natural tastes of the highest quality seasonal ingredients while remaining readable and seemingly simple (even though they really are). In his modern French ode to the pleasures of fine dining, there are two other themes: the relief of no longer being confined to your own kitchen day in and day out, and the hilarious happiness of being alive. Meyer is an extremely gifted chef who will undoubtedly continue his rise as one of the most influential talents of his generation.
Granite, 6 rue Bailleul, 1st arrondissement, Paris
Phone. (33) 01 40 13 64 06
Fixed price menus €58 (lunch), €75 (five courses), €95 (seven courses).
Excerpt from France Today magazine