An oasis for lovers of good food has sprung up in the culinary desert that is Paris’s “grands boulevards.” Sandwiched in between the Hard Rock Café and the Musée Grévin wax museum, BAT (for “Bar à Tapas et Tartares”) is big and bustling like most of the restaurants surrounding it, but unlike them, it serves gourmet food and has a strictly minimalist look, with papered walls and simple tables and chairs, joining a trend followed by many other new Paris restaurants.
BAT’s centerpiece is the open kitchen with a three-sided counter around it. This, in my book, is the cool place to be at BAT, close to the action as the chefs chop and stir, the servers grab and run, and the pots and pans hiss and steam.
The charming young man who gave us our menus turned out to be the chef himself, Yariv Berreby, formerly of Kitchen Galerie Bis, a favorite Left Bank eatery. Admirably relaxed
Chef Yariv Berreby (center) confers with his sous-chefs.
amid the controlled chaos of the dinner service, he was always ready to answer our questions or just to chat throughout the evening. He recommended that we start with one or two dishes and follow our appetite through the choice of starter tapas at €7 each and slightly more substantial “main-course” dishes at €10. Here is a quick rundown of the dishes we sampled:
The topinambour soup with roasted foie gras (something of a cliché now in neo-bistros) was exquisite. It did not have the too-strong flavor of Jerusalem artichoke as many do and had
a lovely smooth, creamy texture, with the flavor brilliantly enhanced by toasted hazelnuts and crunchy, slightly sweet pecans. I can’t recommend it too highly.
The magret de canard was nearly as dazzling. The thin slices of duck breast were
accompanied by quince and a hint of rose flower, and topped with a salad of mixed greens.
Our third starter was pumpkin ravioli in a creamy sauce adorned with green onions
and more of those pecans, a soothing and perfectly balanced dish. We then tried the
grilled swordfish – positively succulent – with yuzu vinaigrette, followed by grilled veal –
just as tender and juicy – with a miso and kumquat condiment. Both were accompanied by winter vegetables cooked al dente.
We had to try the cheese, which Berreby told us came from a young cheesemonger in Boulogne-sur-Mer named Romain Olivier. We sampled a
Saint Nectaire, a wonderful chèvre and a stunning 2010 Comté. For dessert, We had the Paris Brest, a fine example of the classic chou pastry with praline cream but less inventive than the dishes that had preceded it.
With Yariv Berreby at the bat, BAT is assured a winning game. And with BAT in the neighborhood, along with nearby Circonstances, Richer and L’Office, the culinary desert of the grands boulevards is becoming ever more verdant, no longer a place to be avoided when choosing a cinema.