"The evolving Francophile..."

My husband Jack has always wanted to live in Paris and learn French. I thought it would be good for him to achieve his life time dream. Hence, we moved to Paris in 2008. My first year was difficult. I started "missives" to relieve some stress and chronicle my life so friends back in the US could read what I am experiencing. I currently write about my food and travel experiences, which is my passion.

It is definitely a challenge to live here, but each year it gets easier, and quite enjoyable, in large part because I value friendships over locale. I have a love/hate relationship with Paris as do most Parisians, mais La vie est belle (but life is good)!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Restaurant Review -- David Toutain

 Address:  29 Rue Surcouf, 75007 Paris
Phone: 01 45 50 11 10
Bus: line 80, Metro: Invalides line 8
Website: http://davidtoutain.com/
Rating Standards: 5-Stars = Extraordinary; 4-Stars = Excellent; 3-Stars = Average; 2-Stars = Fair; 1-Star = Poor
€ = Inexpensive: 30€ and under; €€ = Moderate: 31€-49€; €€€ = Expensive: €50 -75; €€€€ = Very Expensive: more than €76 (prices based on minimum 2-courses)
1-Bell = Pleasantly quiet (less than 65 decibels); 2-Bells = Can talk easily (65-70); 3-Bells = Talking normally gets difficult (70-75); 4-Bells = Can talk only in raised voices (75-80); BOMB = Too noisy for normal conversation (80+)

 4 - Star......................................................€€€ ......................................................... 3 - Bell

This review is going to be a little bit of departure from my other reviews, primarily because it was a tasting menu, and there were so many dishes. And, since I don't like talking notes while eating (too conspicuous of what I'm doing), I try and remember the courses. So I will try to give an overview or highlights of the experience. So, in large part I'll let the photos speak for themselves.

I'll start by saying this restaurant is aptly named after Chef David Toutain, who had a strong following after his stint at "Agapé Substance", so the Chef is quite well known in the Parisian food scene. And, in 2015 he was acknowledged and rewarded with a Michelin star.

You definitely must make reservations, and you also need to reconfirm the day ahead.  Be forewarned, not reconfirming could mean a lost table.  Because it is a tasting menu, you must tell them if you have food restrictions/allergies. Fortunately, we have none.

We went for lunch. It's a small restaurant in the 7eme and quite a simple looking restaurant. There weren't a lot of tables but it seemed to be relatively full. And, the tables were nicely spaced so you you aren't sitting on top of each other, as most restaurants in Paris. I assume the plainness of the decor was so the diners can focus on the star attraction, their food.

They basically had 3-tasting menus, a 45€, 72€, 105€,  and one for 165€ which the last included wine pairings. I told the waiter that I don't eat much and would prefer the 45€, he steered me to the 75€ menu, good salesman. He did ask if we wanted their lunch special of a risotto with white truffles. Because I knew it was going to be a tasting menu, I felt that a supplemental dish of risotto would be too heavy for us, we both declined. Plus I read from other reviews that the supplemental was an extra charge which they do not disclose, why talk money at this caliber restaurant, n'est-ce pas?

We started off with an aperitif of a glass each of martini red and martini white.

Almost immediately we got our first couple of courses and was asked about what wines we wanted. JJ asked if they had 1/2 bottles, since I only drink a glass or two at the most during meals these days, besides he drinks red and I drink rosés or whites. They did not. So based on what we like in a wine, he recommended some wines.

I thought it odd that he did not let us see the wine menu, I suppose because we immediately asked for suggestions. I recommend you look at the wine menu first, then ask questions about specific vintners.  We wound up the two wines (see photos), I had one glass and JJ eventually had 3-glasses.

I'm going to assume that the above was our amuse bouche.  When it first arrived, I thought, oh a forest of branches for olfactory experience. Then the waiter said there were actually two edible tubulars which the waiter called "rasin vegetables?" that were actually edible. I had never heard of it. We ate it and dipped it in a whipped buttery/mayonnaise as recommended. It tasted like a manioc (cassava). Interesting start for an exploration to follow.

This egg dish was absolutely delicious. It was served over hay, very whimsical.  JJ who does not like eggs, but fell in love with it. It was accompanied by crackers made of sarrasin (buckwheat) and some sweet doughy pastries with a contrasting salty butter.

Encased in all this wonderful creamy deliciousness were morsels of chicken. This dish was quite light and and was our first protein. A surprised lurked as you worked your way to the bottom of this dish, a coddled egg, perfectly cooked.

Well, what'd ya know, we did get a risotto after-all, but not with white truffles. I find risotto oftentimes to be very heavy and way too starchy. I liked this risotto a lot because it was cooked al dente and didn't feel heavy nor starchy. And, if recollection serves me right, it had some crispy shavings of coconut.

This was a delicate white fish served with a purée of cabbage, the latter much to my surprise. I thought for sure they were creamed peas, but we asked the waiter and he said cabbage. JJ and I debated what the starch was. I said they were plantains, but he felt it was more a rutabaga. I think I'm right.

I absolutely loved this dish. Now this dish isn't a shy dish nor is it for everyone. It was characteristic of a very Japanese style dish. It's a smoky fish served with in a pool of black sesame sauce.  The fish has very, very strong bold fish flavors, which I love. My initial guess is that it was mackerel, but was later corrected, it's eel. I couldn't devour this fish fast enough. It left me wanting more.

And, the last protein of the day. JJ had to run to the rest room, and they went ahead and served us, but since JJ was gone, they put a dome on his to keep his dish warm. Oddly, mine wasn't domed, I guess they assumed since I'm American I would start eating without him. This was a pigeon cooked rare. It was absolutely delicious and moist. It came with a dollop of tamarind sauce, which JJ liked. But I like the natural flavors of the pigeon. A big hit for both of us.

Now onto desserts. First we got a sweet cauliflower mousse and ice cream. Wow, I love cauliflower, and who knew it could be made into a dessert. It was delicious.  The second was a vanilla honey ice cream topped with a dry milk wafer with a dew of honey. Although this was a delicious dessert, it was a bit too sweet for me.

And, when we thought all was said and done we got chocolate covered macadamia truffle sitting in a bed of chocolate sand and two sweet gateaux. At this point I was stuffed, but I did eat the chocolate, and JJ said the gateau was sweet and moist and delicious.


The restaurant is unpretentious and unassuming. There were some odd quirks about the restaurant and the service.  For example, the ordering of the wine was a bit strange. And, then the quickness of bringing out the food. It's a very fast paced service, I guess it would have to be, considering the numerous courses they served.  At first I thought the branches and the hay et.al. was very gimmicky, but then as I started eating, I understood what was happening, it was not only an exploration of taste sensations, but visual and whimsical. Food does not always need to be serious, n'est-ce pas?

I wish they had a written menu so you can take it back with you, or at minimum have one that we can refer to as you're eating the meal. Although the waiters gave an "overview" of the dishes in both French and English (your preference), it was fast and brief and not complete.  As is typical in tasting menus, the courses don't necessarily have to "connect" or have cohesion.  Surprisingly, and kudos to the chef, the dishes were not heavy and the right portion size. He does love eggs though, and I'm glad he does, cause so do I. In fact, they were light and packed with flavor.

All-in-all, it was a great dining experience, very creative, inventive and inspiring.  We would definitely go back.  For the 2 of us our meal came to 217€, by no means inexpensive, but worthwhile for the experience and the exploratory flavorings.


  1. One of my favorite "almost every time I'm in Paris" restaurants ................
    the smoked fish is smoked eel .......

  2. Thank you. That've been my 2nd guess. Correction noted...

  3. This is more like an art show than a luncheon. Such wonderful presentations.
    Louise and Tom