Catching the earliest Eurostar train to Paris makes me grumpy. With no time, and frankly nowhere, to have decent brekky, the two-hour journey got me cranky and salivating for good viennoiserie and coffee. If there was one thing that saved me from self-destruct, it was the thought of the first thing on my itinerary: finally visiting Septime.
I don’t know about you but that first sip of coffee always perks me up.
Walk down trendy rue de Charonne without blinking otherwise you’d miss Septime. There are no big boards nor flashing lights that point to the establishment but signs of its success truly come from inside. Impressively, this unassuming neo-bistro in the heart of the 11th arrondissement proudly holds a Michelin star and a place in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2016.
Septime is the brainchild of Bertrand Grébaut, a graduate of Alain Passard’s three Michelin-starred L’Arpège. One of the city’s most creative young chefs, Grébaut has redefined Parisienne dining scene in a lot of ways. His carte blanche menu changes daily, depending on the produce they find in the markets.
Grébaut keeps things to a simplistic tee. Believing in the power of fresh produce, his dishes are made fresh and uncomplicated with just three to four ingredients each. Even the decor of the restaurant is kept simple – from the seemingly unfinished walls, to the block tables sans table cloth, to the iron fixings and the magnificent spiral staircase I sat close to.
For lunch, you can get three courses for €32.50 or a 6-course degustation menu for €60.
First off the menu was a starter of mushrooms, granola and beer sabayon. This pairing definitely excited me as I thought the flavour profile would be some sort of bittersweet earthy concoction. I was rather right, but was rather surprised. The beer sabayon was a revelation and in fact elevated the creaminess of the wild mushrooms on the plate. The granola added some texture and a nice sweet contrast to the earthiness of the shrooms.
A little more zingy was a dish of pickled cauliflower, mussells and strips of porchetta. This little bowl of food reminded me of Spring-Summer. The seafood and citrusy notes channelled all things Provençal France. Two spoons in and I am transcended back to the Riviera where everything was fresh and vibrant. It was eternal sunshine on a plate.
Next up was a plate of pork belly perfectly paired with grilled fennel. What puzzled me at first was the cardamom infused jus but a forkful later Septime surprised me again. I hate cardamom but I loved this dish. The pork was perfectly cooked and it tasted sublime.
It was as generous as French cooking can be.
I didn’t know how Septime could outdo that glorious pork dish until this dish appeared before me.
An absolutely picture-perfect piece of cuttlefish. I’m told it’s a deconstructed matelote or stew with a modern twist. Served with a hefty slice of pork sausage and amazingly fresh leaves, this was the dish of the day for me.
How they managed to preserve the delicate, subtle flavour of the cuttlefish, I’m puzzled. But wow, it’s definitely the most flavoursome seiche I’ve ever had.
Two hefty pieces of cheeses composed the penultimate dish. At this point I was bursting in my bra but god damn it, I couldn’t stop myself. The emmental was so good, I ate it in all pungent glory. But what stole the show was the creamiest, sharpest goat cheese I’ve ever had. Love is cheesy, and love was served on a plate at Septime.
The final course was a small version of floating island. There were hints of sage to the custard which, admittedly, put me off a bit. It was a confusing dessert, but it was light as a feather and I liked the caramel sauce.
Verdict for Septime
Septime absolutely blew my mind. If you’re looking for a good take on modern French cooking, this is definitely the place to go. Service is as friendly as it gets and the atmosphere is so relaxed and so… comfortable. Bertrand Grébaut and his staff surely know how to treat your dining experience in a cool, casual, classy manner. Food is outstanding and you’re sure to have a different dish every day.
Go, because you can’t miss out. If they say Paris is always a good idea, then dining in Septime Paris is absolutely the better idea.
80 Rue de Charonne, 75011 Paris, France
Ave spend pp: €50
Also check out Septime’s sister restaurant Clamato and wine bar Septime La Cave
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Have you been to Septime? What are your favourite Parisienne restaurants?