In its last incarnation, this restaurant was a favorite of a friend of mine, who liked it not so much for its food, which was good but not exceptional, but for its location near his apartment and its super-friendly, accommodating staff. He was quite upset when it closed, but now that we have eaten at its replacement, Caillebotte, he is thrilled to know that he has a gourmet restaurant on his doorstep.
The only problem is that now he will have to reserve well in advance to get a table, since Caillebotte (after the Impressionist painter, who lived in the neighborhood), which opened only a month ago, immediately filled up with foodies in the know: this is the new restaurant of chef Franck Baranger and his partner Edouard Bobin, owners of the wildly popular bistro Le Pantruche.
The restaurant’s decor has been revised, with unusual plywood paneling, a marble-topped bar facing the open kitchen, marble tables, mirrored walls in the lower dining room, and hanging bare-bulb light fixtures. The overall effect is a bit odd, but pleasant enough. Noise
Customers sitting at the bar have a prime view into the kitchen.
levels were kept pleasingly low thanks to panels on the ceiling, and although we sat next to the door, we never felt cold thanks to a heavy curtain blocking out the chill winds of winter.
Of the serving staff of three, two men and a woman, we warmed only to the woman, who was a real pistol, efficient, professional and charming.
The meal started blissfully. My friend had the pan-fried foie gras, which sent him into a state of ecstasy. It came on a bed of endives flavored with orange, which at first seemed to
overwhelm the delicate flavor of the foie gras, but when coupled with it in small quantities made a stunning match. I had the slow-cooked egg with mashed pumpkin, chicken broth,
almond milk and bacon (the latter was not listed on the menu for this dish, but was an excellent addition to it – bizarrely, bacon was listed on the menu for the foie gras but didn’t come with it). Sounds strange, but when the ingredients were mixed together, it was pure pleasure.
The joy continued with the main courses. The smoked duck breast with sherry-braised red cabbage and beet juice was as succulent as can be, and the pairing was inspired. We were
perplexed at first by a burnt piece of cabbage on the plate. Eaten on its own, it was very unpleasant, but when a tiny bit was tasted with the duck, it was amazing. We asked the waiter, and indeed it had been purposely burnt by the chef.
I had the mullet, which came with incredibly light mashed potatoes and a parsley sauce
with a few mussels in it and two razor clams on the side. I am usually not a fan of restaurant fish dishes, but I was mad about this subtle combination and downed it with gusto.
All this was very pleasantly accompanied by a fresh, light yet full-bodied 2011 Burgundy from Olivier Decelle-Pierre-Jean Villa at a reasonable €25.
The desserts were slightly disappointing after our expectations had been raised so high by the first two courses. My friend found his cooked pear with quince sorbet and nougatine to
be rather dry. I liked my chocolate cream with corn crumble and pecans but didn’t
find it exceptional.
No matter – Caillebotte is a keeper. Hope my friend doesn’t ruin himself by eating there every night.
Note: Caillebotte was named Paris’s Best Bistro of 2013 by FigaroScope.