Thursday, June 26, 2014

Cameroonian Chef Is King at Cuistance

My husband Tom and I love dining out and we do so quite frequently to write our weekly Paris Insights restaurant review.

A few weeks ago, we enjoyed a fine meal at a restaurant near Les Halles called Cuistance.

© Discover Paris!

The menu borrows from the Spanish theme of tapas. The restaurant serves small portions and encourages customers to order three of these as the equivalent of the traditional French entrée-plat* and share them with their dining companions. The selections were fresh and exciting with international touches - examples included Tataki de boeuf (Japan) and Ecrasé de burrata (Italy).

The restaurant is narrow and the decor is decidedly contemporary. Our servers were happy and proud to speak English with us. And we were pleased with our choices from the menu:

  • Œuf de poule poché, petits pois et champignons de saison, crumble aux herbes, écume de bouillon, paille de vitelotte
    Poached egg in mushroom broth was served with a crumble of breadcrumbs and herbs de Provence with a side of matchstick purple potatoes - all atop a bed of green peas and mushrooms.
  • Cromesquis de risotto aux girolles, copeaux de parmesan, riquette, sauce forestière.
    Risotto croquettes were redolent with parmesan cheese and studded with chanterelle mushrooms. A wild mushroom sauce was served alongside.
  • Ecrasé de burrata, flocons d’avoine, pickles de mini maïs, riz soufflé, vinaigrette de noisette grillée, cress de basilic pourpre - This was our favorite!
    A flattened portion of burrata cheese (a pocket of mozzarella containing fresh cream) covered with toasted wild rice, ears of pickled baby corn, and purple basal, all dressed in toasted hazelnut vinaigrette.
Ecrasé de burrata
© Discover Paris!
  • Déclinaison de cochon de lait, purée de Granny Smith rôtie, mini poireaux, jus de cochon.
    Three small portions of piglet, one shredded (somewhat like pulled pork in the U.S.) and two served in their skin, were accompanied by baby leeks and puréed, roasted, Granny Smith apple.
  • Pavé de lieu jaune, légumes primeurs en persillade, palets de brioche, viennoise croquante, écume d’arrêtes au thé vert Matcha.
    Skinned pollack covered with bread crumbs and herbs de Provence were served with a frothy fish broth flavored with Matcha tea and carrot and turnip on the side.
Pavé de lieu
© Discover Paris!
  • Royale de foie gras, crème de riquette, pomme Fuji, gelée d’une sangria, gaufre.
    A small glass dish contained a flan made from egg, cream, and foie gras (fatty duck liver), to be eaten with waffles! The plate was artfully decorated with a sauce made from arugula, tiny cubes of Fuji apple, and dots of sangria jelly.
  • Soupe de mangue-coco, crousti de filo au miel, duo de shiso cress.
    Mango-coconut soup topped with a honey-coated filo-dough crust that resembled the crust of a crème brulée served as our dessert.
Soupe de mangue-coco
© Discover Paris!

The wine list is lovely as well, including the wines by the glass. I enjoyed a glass of Pouilly Fumé – Domaine des Fines Caillottes – 2012 (Loire Valley) with the cromesquis de risotto and a glass of Maucaillou – 2011 (Bordeaux) with the cochon de lait. Tom settled for a beer (Sol, from Mexico) with his meal.

As we were waiting for the dessert course, Chef Henri-Serge Manga emerged from the kitchen to inquire among the customers about their satisfaction with his handiwork. We asked a few questions about the ingredients in our dishes, to which he readily responded, and then he graciously posed for the photo below.

Chef Henri-Serge Manga, Cuistance Restaurant
© Discover Paris!

Chef Manga is of Cameroonian origin. He studied at Thames Valley University near London and has cooked in Japan and the renowned Fat Duck restaurant in Berkshire, Great Britain. He worked at a wonderful little restaurant called Bon in Paris' 16th arrondissement prior to taking over the kitchen at Cuistance. Seeing him come out of the kitchen and learning that he was the chef was a bonus for us because we knew nothing about him when we made our reservation.

The bill for two, including one glass of champagne, one beer, two glasses of wine, and seven dishes came to 124€. It was a fair price to pay for such an inventive meal. Our only regret was that there was a limited selection of desserts (only four) from which to choose.

We'll definitely return to Cuistance to enjoy the Ecrasé de burrata and to sample other items on the menu!

14 Rue Sauval
75001 Paris
Telephone: 01 40 41 08 08
Métro station: Châtelet Les Halles (Lines 1, 4, 7, and 14; RER A, B, and D)

*If you don’t know what entrée-plat means, then you may be interested in reading our new e-book Dining Out in Paris. For more information, click here:


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