So, I never, well hardly ever, read my reviews of restaurants and chefs who have moved on elsewhere because who knows whether they swept the floor for a week or truly cooked the food for 10 years. Thus I entered Pilgrim with no preconceptions about Hideki Nishi and his service at the Neige d’Ete. As you will see, my inclination was pretty silly.
When I saw that Pilgrim had opened a couple of months ago, my thought was not about whether it referred to Plymouth Rock or Compostela but recalled “Whoa, take’er easy there Pilgrim,” uttered famously 18 tImes by the John Wayne character in “Who Shot Liberty Valence.”
7.1 Pilgrim, 8, rue Nicolas Charlet in the 15th, 01.40.29.09.71, closed Sundays and Mondays (Metro: Pasteur) is in a site that has very bad feng shui or karma or whatever, the last time I was here for the dumplings and caramel ice cream, the seats were ripped, the dishes overpriced and the chef (Philippe Detourbe) too full of himself to realize it (On the other hand to his credit, he resuscitated himself in Yerres). Anyway, today, it’s totally redone with untorn seats and an open kitchen with 5 chefs, three of them Japanese.
At lunch it’s supposed to be 40€ for 4 courses but of course, four turns into seven, of which the first two were green and light; a petit pois soup with rice crackers in a wasabi/mustardy sauce and a perfect egg in green sauce that also was spicy.
My friend, who has lived all over the world, including Japan, and I, split the 3-2-2 menu, starting with asparagus and a tataki of mackerel, quite nice.
Then he had the chicken cooked two ways and I had the peche du jour, an undercooked daurade. At this point my friend said “Excellent, John, good choice.”
Our desserts were a deconstructed swirl of lemon tart and wild strawberries wrapped in a pistachio thing. Then of course came the mignardises, mini macaroons and mini madeleines.
Our bill with a bottle and glass of wine, a carafe of house-filtered water (2.50€, which I thought was gilding the lily) and 2 coffees (again charging 1€+ for the noisette seemed to be pushing their luck.)
Go? Well, it was perfect, how can I find fault? Precisely because it was too perfect, no guts, no soul, no comfort. On my way home, I looked up where and when I’d said that before - bingo - December 2, 2014 “Perfect, too perfect” at the Neige d’Ete. Gotta start reading my own utterances.