I like to recommend romantic spots for any time of year, and the new spot of my heart is Claude Colliot Restaurant in the Marais. There, Chef Claude Colliot and his wife, Chantal, along with their personable and professional staff, do their utmost to welcome, delight and satisfy.

When I arrived at for an 8 p.m. reservation, the friends I was meeting weren’t there because, as I discovered, the reservation was actually for 8:30. Not wanting to sit waiting I told the maitre d’hotel I’d go take a walk ” Madame, we are so glad you are here, please stay and I’ll get you something to drink.” After a day of walking the streets of Paris in search of the finest for the iphone application update of Food Lover’s Guide to Paris by Patricia Wells, I realized I’d be only too happy to comply.

I don’t think I’d ever felt as at ease sitting alone in a restaurant before. The respite of calm and near silence of those exposed stone walls and pale olive green accents – despite other early diners – was gorgeous.

And everything that followed was equally gorgeous. I’d never had Chef Colliot’s signature oyster sorbet, and found it the most intensely pleasurable experience, down to the dab of bitter lemon jelly on the side, and the bed of grated cauliflower “ice” which, when I tasted it turned out to be more than a clever conceit – it was delicious because it was perfectly “seasoned” with a bit of the melted sorbet.

Oyster Sorbet

So many rich and lively flavors followed as I sampled a gingery broth with curls of raw beef, perfectly tender dorade rose, or sea bream cooked a l’unilatérale (on the skin side) so it was bot crisp and soft, and just the tiniest bit crunchy with fleur de sel. A small mound of beet “caviar” was a sweet accompaniment.

The Challons duck was blood red and tender, it’s thighs grilled to a perfect crisp. But even more than the main courses, what caught my eye and my palate was a side bowl of vegetables. They reminded me of the young Japanese woman who lived with me and my family for a year and who would, upon occasion, take three ingredients and make a satisfying meal for six. In the bowl, then, were two small Savoy cabbage leaves, several shavings of carrot, a trio of halved Brussel sprouts and a little nest of butter-braised white onions. Each vegetable still had a slight crunch; the whole was a fresh, buttery, abundant seeming and perfectly seasoned ode to the moment.

And then came dessert. We asked the Chef to “do for us” and he did, with his all white confection that I will recreate at home, often.. Sitting in a pool of fromage blanc seasoned with uzu powder was a perfect scoop of Lychee sorbet topped with a wave of Italian meringue. As you know if you read yesterday’s posting, I’m now adept at Italian meringue; the other two elements are easily doable too!

When next you’re in Paris, don’t miss this spot.

CLAUDE COLLIOT, 40 Clos des Blancs-Manteaux, 75004 Paris Tell 33 (0)1 42 71 55.





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