Zut alors! Is nothing sacred? Is this the end of the traditional French three-course meal? Ultra-fashionable Le Dauphin is serving food tapas-style and the Parisian public love it. The restaurant is owned by Fred Peneau and chef-of-the-moment Inaki Aizpitarte, the dark-eyed, self-taught Basque whose flagship eatery, Le Chateaubriand just a few doors away, opened in 2006. Aizpitarte spearheaded the new bistronomique (bistro+gastronomique) movement to bridge the gap between high-priced gourmet destinations for a moneyed elite and tourists, and tired, formulaic restaurants for everyone else. The neo-bistros of Paris attract daring but accomplished young chefs, effortlessly cool waiting staff, and a buzzing bohemian crowd of all ages.
Le Dauphin opened at the end of 2010 and was wildly successful from day one, despite being located in an untrendy former working-class area. The interior, designed by Rem Koolhaas and Clément Blanchet, is a cool, minimalist cube of white Carrara marble with mirror, steel and exotic wood. The room is dominated by a marble-topped bar with tall stools, and set around the walls are tables simply adorned with stylish glasses, napkins and chairs.
The dinner menu contains about 50 different items grouped by category: cooked meat dishes; cheese; salads, pasta and rice dishes; fish; sausage and cured meats; and desserts. Many dishes are familiar but prepared with a light modern touch. You can tuck into suckling pig, gigot of lamb with haricot beans, melon gazpacho with almonds and lemon verbena, or octopus served with robust tandoor spices.
There’s a list of well-priced wines with an emphasis on biodynamic natural labels that don’t appeal to everyone, but who cares? This place is pure joy. C
Le Dauphin, 131 avenue Parmentier, 75010 Paris, France
+33 (0)1 5528 7888; restaurantledauphin.net