18 Aug2015

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A friend who visits Paris often recommended Semilla, on rue de Seine, Saint Germain. She said it was probably our kind of restaurant, great seasonal food, not overly fussy, definitely count it amongst the new breed of superb small restaurants by talented chefs that have been springing up all over Paris in the last few years. Mrs. MM attempted to book a table and we were told we could only squeeze in if we sat at the “Chef’s Table”…

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Turns out the “Chef’s Table” is a tiny bar with two bar stools, with a direct view into the spectacular kitchen, as well as a great view of the rest of the restaurant if we turned around (photo above). Not only was this not a disappointment in terms of seating, this was, at least for me, the slam-dunk of seats for the evening!

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For my starter, I ordered the Carpaccio de St-Jacques, yuzu et clémentine — that I then proceeded to watch as the chef took out a prepared portion of raw scallops on parchment paper that he laid down on a plate…

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…garnished with sauces and slices of clementine and topped with little flower petals…

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…which was placed in front of me just seconds later. It was delicious, but oddly, missing something, or under seasoned. I couldn’t put my finger on it until I watched several more of the same appetizer prepared by a different chef minutes later. It seems the first guy left out some chili or piment d’espellete and one other ingredient, hence the seemingly incomplete dish I received, the first one prepared by the kitchen that evening. It was still good, but I am now trusting my taste buds more when I think there is something awry…

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Tucked into one corner of the dining room was a bread station, and every time a waiter started slicing the crusty bread to fill a basket for a newly arrived table of guests, you could see the crust/crumbs shattering and leaping here and there. What is it about fresh, and I mean truly fresh bread that is so enticing?

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Next up, we watched as the chef plated up a Magret de canard au mélilo, kaki/bettrave, pickles that a table near us ordered. The artistry of plating up such appetizing appetizers is a pleasure to behold. All of the ingredients were in little stainless tins on the prep table, and they just judiciously picked ingredients to make the plate balanced just so…

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The final plate looked wonderful, and we saw several of these prepared in the kitchen that evening.

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Mrs. MM opted for a St. Jacques coquille, fleur de chou, safran to start and a great choice that was! A gorgeously cooked scallop, a light flavorful foam and bits of cauliflower I gather for the perfect mouthful to start a meal. I would have been disappointed with just one scallop for a starter, but this was perfect for Mrs. MM…

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We then watched as the chefs prepared my Lapin au vin rouge/pruneaux, gnocchi, potimarron, pancetta or saddle of rabbit wrapped in pancetta and served with gnocchi and squash.

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I could barely finish this enormous serving. I am not sure they meant for me to finish it, but I did. :) It was SUPERB!

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For her main course, Mrs. MM ordered the Daurade royale, pulpe courge mandarine, champignons sauvages that was also delicious. The size of the portions was a bit staggering, but it is that generosity of the finest seasonal ingredients that seems to make this new breed of restaurants so appealing. You could certainly say you felt you got more than your money’s worth…

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A closer look at the mis en place…

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…the chefs in the immaculate kitchen. There was very little light banter as service progressed, but we did pick up on the little tidbits here and there (like, the equivalent of, “torpe, you forgot some stuff on that scallop ceviche at the bar…”)

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We spied the tarte au pommes coming out of the ovens just as we arrived…

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…so of course that’s what we chose to split for our dessert, it was served with a praline ice cream. Overall, an utterly wonderful meal and I would highly recommend this restaurant to friends and family. More on the restaurant, here.

 

COMMENTS:

  1. Footloose says:

    The bream looks delicious but the apple tarts look lovely. I thought it was so characteristically anal retentive of Rose Beranbaum to do apple tart that way years ago but these ones now do not look too obsessively fussed over at all. Is it all apple slices or are they sitting on a crème base?

    Aug 18, 2015 | 8:15 am

     
  2. Kasseopeia says:

    Best seats in the house!
    Totally bookmarking this for a future trip…

    Aug 18, 2015 | 10:17 am

     
  3. millet says:

    “torpe, you forgot some stuff on that scallop ceviche at the bar…” …hahahaha! the apple tarts are just too gorgeous!

    Aug 18, 2015 | 10:24 am

     
  4. Artisan Chocolatier says:

    My knees are trembling looking at the tarte au pommes!

    Aug 18, 2015 | 11:34 am

     
  5. passive.observer says:

    MM don’t the chefs mind that you were taking pictures of them while at worK?

    Aug 18, 2015 | 5:04 pm

     
  6. Lee says:

    Wow!

    Aug 18, 2015 | 5:11 pm

     
  7. Marketman says:

    passive.observer, we usually don’t take too many photos in snazzy restaurants. However in this case, and other visits to Paris this trip and the one after this, we simply asked and sought permission first, which was always graciously provided. Mrs. MM is fluent in Parisian accented French (she did her graduate degree there) so that really takes us a long, long way in situations like this… :)

    The chefs and servers actually casually chatted us up as we waited for dishes or just watched what was going on… Parisians are FAR more friendly than they were perceived to be before…

    Aug 18, 2015 | 7:06 pm

     
  8. edee says:

    It really does help when you know the language :)

    Aug 18, 2015 | 7:43 pm

     
  9. cecile says:

    the torpe line made me laugh even if i’m squinting due to headache and tired eyes! LOL!

    Sep 11, 2015 | 2:14 pm

     
  10. R Collado says:

    i just had dinner here last night and it was the worst 83€ I’ve ever spent. I had a pork dish that’s way too chewy and gummy. I’d probably have Zubuchon a thousand times ove.

    Sep 18, 2015 | 7:29 pm

     
 

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