11/13/2012

Passage 53: A Japanese - French Fusion

A few days ago, two dear friends of mine invited me to go to Passage 53.

Since I had never heard of the restaurant I Googled it immediately. It was situated in the oldest "passage" in Paris, the Passage des Panaromas, near the Bourse.

Within the Passage it is almost impossible to find it and I am sure most people walk by it without realizing that this is a restaurant with two Michelin starts.

Can you see it? Credit: The Skinny Bib

The place is so tiny that when you enter the restaurant you find yourself already surrounded by tables. There are twenty seat in all.

The service is handled by four super model-thin young men in black suits. They were attentive, knowledgeable and bilingual. Our table conversation switched between English and French and they were able to switch with us without missing a beat (you have no idea how incredibly rare this is in Paris).

The food came down from up above, brought down by a number of young sous-chefs who stood on the steps of a tiny spiral case (which is from 1798 apparently) to pass on their precious cargo to our waiters.

The decor seems to have been changed recently as the wall were painted white and were left unadorned with the exception of an unobtrusive mirror and a white canvas which blended into the background.

The wine list consisted of Bourgogne wines primarily and the selection was excellent. We opted for a Puligny Montrachet, a nicely mineral Burgundy white that represented its region perfectly.

There is only one menu at Passage 53 and it is a seven course affair. I am not one of those people who take a picture of everything they eat and make annoying audible commentary while consuming their food. The food was inventive, quite delicious and very well presented. I only retained a few of the courses.

The White Course with Squid
The amuse-bouche was a pumpkin soup with a cafe au lait mousse and it was simply heavenly. Their house specialty is something they call "the white course," which, in our case, was a pan-seared langoustine covered with cauliflower shavings. It was cooked perfectly and it was tasty without being spectacular.

They also had a slow baked red onion with chorizo slices inserted into onion layers. It was less "wow, that's delicious!" and more "how did they do that?" kind of dish.

Overall, I enjoyed everything but at the end of the meal, I found myself in agreement with chef Shininchi Sato who said, during a recent interview, that "I don’t think that our restaurant actually merits 2 stars."

It is a lovely restaurant that would be perfect with a single star and a slightly lower price point.


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