La Bigarrade, 17th Arr.
Tel: 33 1 42 26 01 02
Concierge.com's insider take:
La Bigarrade may be the city's most avant-garde table d'hôte. Even the address—the unfashionable part of the 17th arrondissement, between Place de Clichy and the beltway—is forward-thinking. In the high-tech open kitchen, chef Christophe Pelé (formerly of Le Jardin at the Royal Monceau) and his assistant star in what feels like performance art. Their audience is the clientele, seated on pea-green upholstered armchairs at the eight tables. Meals commonly run over three hours, and while stimulating the senses is one of Pelé's priorities, satisfying hunger is not. Among the six or more market-based dishes (announced only when served) on the prix fixe menu, there might be a pair of shelled clams in a tablespoon of bouillon; two saltine-size slices of raw veal garnished with carrot flowers, herring eggs, translucent radish, and ginger; a pumpkin-and-foie-gras emulsion with squash-seed oil and a single grilled hazelnut; or barely cooked wild sea bass flanked by a pinch of roasted, crumbled black olives. The sweets are astonishing miniatures: rosemary-and-honeyflavored frozen nougat, fluffed fresh white cheese with puréed black currant, and walnut-size chocolate soufflé. And there's often a mystery dish: Diners are asked to guess what they're eating few get it right. La Bigarrade's well-chosen wine list includes about 20 whites and 25 reds, among them a remarkable organic Mâcon-Cruzille Blanc from Domaine Guillot-Broux, and Saumur Champigny Clos Cristal. The best part? This culinary artistry costs $50 to $60 for lunch, $60 to $90 for dinner—about a quarter of what you'd pay in a bigger, more luxurious Parisian temple of gastronomy. Intrepid French and foreign food lovers are quick to snap up reservations, so call at least two weeks ahead.
Open Mondays noon to 2 pm, Tuesdays through Fridays noon to 2 pm and 8 to 10 pm, September through July.