Dining at David Toutain is something I've been looking forward to. I've seen many a photos of his work and was feeling really excited to try them out myself - even more excited than I was with Pavillon Ledoyen!
The ambience is more casual, airy and minimalist. We were handed the single-page menu, which contains about 3 sentences in it - carte blanche with options of 5 or 7 courses, and with or without wine pairing.
Just the previous day we lunched at Pavillon Ledoyen, and after sitting through a 3.5 hour meal, I was tempted to go for the 5-course meal instead of 7. But we were bowled over by the first couple of items brought out, that we changed to 7 courses (€105).
Amuse bouche of carpaccio with hibiscus leaves -
The theme here - what you see is NOT what you get! We were told to eat with our fingers - I loved how realistic they made the carpaccio look like strawberries, complete with dirt (a sort of biscuit crumble). It passed the taste test with flying colours too, so yummy and fresh! Perfect for starters.
Then just as soon as we finished with the carpaccio, this crispy beetroot with an onion cream and beetroot filling was brought for us.
It completely blew our minds, we both rated this very highly. We were supposed to take it all in one mouthful and the burst of a most delicious creamy filling, coupled with its crispy exterior .... wow.
Fancy cutleries and ambiguous ornaments were placed on our table - what we thought were coasters turned out to be little plates for bread. It is a meal of constant second-guessing, I have to say!
A DT signature of egg with cumin and caramel served with corn bread .
The top was frothy and light, this was most enjoyable.
It felt like a mad rush at the start of our meal - suddenly our table was piled with plates, brioche, ambiguous cutlery, bread and butter... thankfully it gradually descended to a more comfortable level. You'll see that we had more than 7 courses, some small items in between but all of them must have required plenty of preparation.
Shrimp tagliatelle with fresh almond and almond milk
I absolutely loved this - shrimp flavours incorporated into the tagliatelle, done al dente, fresh almond contrasting texture nicely with the tagliatell... just little things that made a lot of difference and brought this dish together perfectly!
Carrot in black tempura with caviar salt with a green (?) dip.
Can you spot which is edible and which isn't? :)
Discount the little blocks of darkened wood, and what's left sticking on a twig is our harmless carrot, coated in black tempura and deep fried, served with caviar salt and a dip that I can't remember what it was. I took a bite, the smooth bright orange of the carrot contrasts beautifully with the rough, bumpy surface of the tempura. Taste-wise it wasn't that exciting but visually, too pretty!!
Our next dish is just as pretty - Zucchini salad with an unknown dressing and quinoa.
In Ledoyen, we had zucchini as well, with burrata and that had a richer flavour. At DT, the salad was simpler, but just as good. Loved the crunch of the quinoa in the salad.
Fish perfectly cooked, and went very nicely with the lemon basil dressing.
Lamb with sweet bread and chopped green beans.
Small serving that packs a punch. I'll let the picture do the talking.
Another signature of DT: Smoked eel with black sesame and green apple.
This. Is. The. Bomb. Completely stunned. Heavy in Japanese flavours, the smoked eel was divine; the black sesame thick and gooey; the tartness of the green apple balances the richness of the black sesame. Beautifully executed, I can't stop fawning over this!
Spring chick with green peas and fenebais (or something that sounded like that).
This ranks as one of the most tender chickens I've had - and I've had some really excellent ones, done the Hainanese way (pak zham kai) but this is different.
To cleanse the palate, we were served with cauliflower and coconut ice cream with white chocolate.
Cauliflower? Well, yes. The cauliflower cream I could detect, but it does not overwhelm. As strange as it sounds, it works really well with coconut and white chocolate. Now, who would have thought to use a vegetable for dessert?
Milk foam with Madagascar onions
This fragile little thing was about 3 inches lengthwise. Everything just crumbles and melts in your mouth - amazing. And no, I'm not sure exactly what Madagascar onions taste like! This was more of a caramelized form of it.
There was another last dessert, strawberry with rhubarb foam and meringue but the photo turned out blurry ;/ Well I suppose you'll have to use your imagination and that was another beautiful, excellent dish by David Toutain.
Absolutely loved, loved, loved everything set in front of us - this was a whole new level of dining experience for me. Every dish has been a stimulation not only for the tastebuds, but visually as well. The extent of labour gone into making everything is absolutely mind-blowing.
29 Rue Surcouf
+33 (0) 145 50 11 10
Nearest Metro Invalides RERC