8.4 Restaurant David Toutain, 29, rue Surcouf in the 7th, 01.45.50.11.10, (Buses: 28, 69 and 80), closed weekends, opened Monday (that is, 5 days ago) and already is hopping - chock-a-block full, noisy (85.7 dB) and full of energy and warmth from the chef on down. Y'all know the chef, David Toutain, if not from L’Arpege, then from his time with the black-hatted Marc Veyrat or at the wonderful Mugaritz in Spain or even more recently at Agapé Substance. When I ate at the last, I gave it an 8.0/10 and thought it was one of the best of 2011. Well, things have gotten more even and mo-bettah. But to that later.
The "menus" are 68 (117 paired with wines) and 98 (158 E with wines) - pricy for a young chef but cheap for the American visitors in the 7th and students at the U. a few doors away. It's a forced-choice deal, so sit back and, like at Spring, enjoy! It's a trip - 14 or maybe 15 courses, and that's for the less expensive menu, Lord knows how many are on the degustatation one. Rather than describe each let me throw them out -
1 parsnips disguised as pickles
2 pork rinds and smoked potato puree
3 a "croque monsieur" (well sort of)
4 ice and fennel
5 smoked ham and cauliflower
6 egg and corn
7 oysters, brussel sprout hearts and foie gras
8 encornets and yucca
9 great bread and butter
10 scallops and carrots and beets
11 black sesame mousse with smoked fish
12 duck with crustaceans - HEAVENLY
13 cauliflower andwhite chocolate
14 Jerusalem artichoke and pineapple, chestnuts and celery root
15 coffee - superb!
The variety of beautifully designed plates and bowls enhanced each presentation. We also enjoined talking with Thai, David's wife, who was assisting in the kitchen and the dining room,
Any problems John? Well now that you mention it - The noise level from a table of 4, in the area where we were seated, (at the back, down one step), made it difficult for us to hear one another. The rigidity of having only one person take food and wine orders. The sameness of the dishes - protein things with vegetable things with bouillons on top - which repetitiveness, my old Psychiatry Professor would declare was consistent rather than recurrent as did dining companion who was well known to the house.
Any striking pluses? The wonderful warmth of the newly gathered staff (quite astonishing). The innovative, consistent, explosive food. The presence of the chef's charming SF-born wife whose photos opposite the toilettes are dazzling (see below). The ability of DT to be on top of it all but not micromanaging.
Our bill, after a trip upstairs to see Madame's photos, with their bottled water (4E), 1.5 bottles of wine and three coffees, was 174.66 E per couple.
Go? As Francois Simon would say - "One must."