What better place to spend a Sunday morning than in a restaurant called Un Dimanche à Paris? My wife and I went there today for brunch.
The restaurant and chocolate/pastry boutique are located on a narrow 18th-century cobblestone walkway called Cour de Commerce Saint-André. The establishment is vast, occupying three addresses on the cour. The dining tables are amply spaced on a floor of polished paving-stones. Imaginatively-designed light fixtures provide adequate illumination and window shades in green, grape, rose, and taupe provide colorful distraction. In short, the restaurant is an eclectic mixture of modern décor in an ancient setting.
It envelops one of the towers that Philippe Auguste, king of France, built in the 13th century to protect the city before he headed off to the Crusades. Our waiter seated us at a table right next to this magnificent structure. Before he took our order, he thoughtfully asked us if we had any allergies to food.
Un Dimanche à Paris offers two menus for brunch, one for 38€ with a choice of omelets, and the other for 58€, with an assiette gourmet of five different small dishes, followed by four dessert gourmandieses. As the assiette gourmet is representative of the type of cuisine in which the restaurant specializes, we selected that. (The menu centers on the theme of chocolate and each dish contains some form of this ingredient.) The food was so unique that by the end of the meal, we were quite pleased that we had made this choice.
Among the apéritif beverages offered on the brunch menu, we settled on a Kir royal au cacao. This was a glass of brut Ayala champagne flavored with crème de cacao. The touch of chocolate gave the dry champagne an earthy flavor that completely transformed it. We both found this pleasing. I was able to nurse my beverage through half of the meal.
The waiter also brought us each a glass of fruit juice. I chose pear juice produced by Alain Millat, whose flavor I found to be ambrosial, and my wife opted for a glass of pink grapefruit juice.
While we waited for the food to arrive, we delighted in eating fresh, thick-cut baguette which we coated with a velvety chocolate spread. It tasted dreamy! A pat of Echiné butter and a choice of Alain Millat honey and jams were served alongside.
Then, the waiter brought the first course, a plate containing six different portions of food, most of which were flavored in some way with chocolate. Two quick-fried prawns were covered in coco nibs, which gave the crustaceans a slight crunch. A small portion of foie gras was marbled with chocolate and topped with poached pear. A small portion of marinated sea bream was covered in sesame seeds and cocoa nibs. It was served with a round of the freshest salmon that I have tasted in a long time. A slice of rabbit terrine had melt-in-the mouth tenderness. Flavored with chocolate, it was ever-so-slightly bitter. A small goblet of chestnut cream soup served with a swirl of chocolate syrup was light and lovely. And a slice of mackerel, served with green beans and chocolate croutons, expressed the primordial flavor of the sea.
For dessert, the waiter brought a plate containing a two madeleines flavored with rose and raspberry, slices of buttered, toasted Poilâne bread covered with dark-chocolate shavings, tiny Paris Brests (choux pastry) filled with hazelnut cream, and a sweet cake made with bits of candied orange and filled with praline cream. There were two bonuses: a goblet of pannacotta covered with sour cherry jam and a goblet of rich vanilla-flavored yoghurt covered with little balls containing milk chocolate, dark chocolate, and white chocolate.
To end the meal, the waiter brought me a cup of café au lait and my wife a cup of rich, aromatic hot chocolate.
The service was friendly and wonderfully efficient.
Before we left the restaurant, Nicolas Bacheyre, the pastry and chocolate chef, came out of the kitchen to bid us hello.
This was a wonderful meal and an experience we won’t soon forget!
Un Dimanche à Paris
4-6-8, cour du Commerce Saint-André
Sunday brunch served from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
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