Sunday, April 10, 2011

Passage 53 Paris

There were conversations and phone calls between my friend, Helen and the Georges V concierge, Adrian. Times and days were discussed with the 2 Michelin star restaurant, Passage 53. Yes, they have been fully booked since recently being awarded their second star. I'm not sure if it was Helen's friendships with both owner, Guillaume and concierge Adrian that scored the reservation, but it seemed to be a don't ask, don't tell scenario. The next day my friends, Nancy, Helen and I eagerly left the hotel looking forward to the 9 course Degustation Menu. After arriving at this small restaurant in one of Paris' passages in the 2nd arrondisement, we were warmly greeted by owner, Guillaume Guedj and his brother Jonathon. As conversation was exchanged, we were seated at a cozy round table toward the rear of the restaurant and near a well worn spiral staircase. Guillaume asked if we would like to start with a glass of Champagne, which almost seemed like a rhetorical question as the glasses of bubbly spirits arrived. Toast! Guillaume then suggested a white Mersault wine to go with the meal. Perfect! The Chagall inspired charger plates were removed and then the gastronomic fun began. Since we had ordered the Degustation Menu, there were no choices to be made. They are all a sampling of the chefs expertise.Japanese chef Sato, intuitively, expertly and simply combined spices and flavors to artfully present them on the table. To say he is just a chef is to say ikebana is just flower arrangement. His Japanese sensibility delightfully mingles with the French. Bread and 2 butters immediately arrived at our table. One was spiced and was the deep orange color of Nancy's scarf. Our first course was brought, and then described by Guillaume as tiny fresh broccoli florets with cream. The delicate broccoli crowned a creamy base that reminded us of a panna cotta. After we finished and were still discussing the ethereal first course, a bright green, paper-thin radish arrived that enveloped scallops and watercress. Again, a simple combination of ingredients that spoke deliciously with each other. We were presented next with an oyster under a swirl of creaminess topped with caviar. Each course was beautifully served and complimented the preceding and following presentation. Next came a Langostine with Red Pepper Sauce and Orange Mousse. It was as tasty as it was lively to look at. Then the White Course was served, which was a white sauce, calimari with shaved cauliflower floweretts on top. The whiteness of each one was a blank canvas that became a masterpiece when layered with the others. The last fish course arrived of sole with a seaweed sauce, served with leek, radishes and romanesca. This led us into the meat courses, which began with a glazed onion. It was made very special by slivers of chorizo tucked between the layers. A nice surprise. A slice of Cochon de Lait with a fruit sauce perfumed with yuzu, which is an Asian citrus fruit, came next. It was served with asparagus and lentils and the combination was sublime. Our last meat course was a perfectly cooked slice of Lamb Filet Mignon with Anchovy Butter and Rosemary sauce, with a roasted potato wedge, and brussel sprout leaves. One would think that there couldn't possibly be room for dessert, but there was!! Each course was full of flavor and creativity, but the portions were just large enough to taste over the 2 1/2 hours of dining. The different desserts were brought all at once. There was a Rhubarb Yogurt Ice Cream with Litchi, Tarte Tatin, Milk Chocolate with Passion Fruit, and a slice of Dark Chocolate Tart. Each one was a unique finish to our meal. At the end, we ordered coffee that came with a mignardise of mini madeleines! We were so involved with our dining experience that we didn't realize until the end of the meal that each tray was brought down the narrow spiral staircase. The kitchen, where all of the magic happened, was upstairs. Heaven above, indeed! At the end, Chef Sato came down and met with us. I was in awe. Guillaume, Jonathon and the staff genuinely cared about the food, the diners and the attention to detail service. They bid us good-bye and said it would be a pleasure to welcome us again, and I know they meant it. They earned every star and then some. I will be back...soon.

Passage 53
53 Passage des Panoramas
75002 Paris 75002 Paris
01 42 33 04 35 01 42 33 04 35

Map location, here.
Closed Sunday and Monday.
Reservations recommended.

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