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Wining & dining
eat, drink and... be romantic
by Julie Baker & Tim Baker

From St Valentine’s Day on through the early days of spring, this is the time of year when love is in the air. And where best to celebrate it than in a special French restaurant...

Market 15 av Matignon, M° Franklin D. Roosevelt, tel: 01 56 43 40 90, open daily, menu 32E.  One of the city’s most fashionable restaurants, Market attracts a well-heeled crowd of art dealers and fashion folk for lunch, and hip, beautiful young things admiring each other across candlelight at night.  The interior is striking for its marriage of cool, urban elegance and understated irony, and long windows looking out onto the stylish avenue Matignon create a glamorous cachet that would impress any date. The unusual peanuts with a wasabi coating that accompanied our aperitif announced the restaurant’s theme of inventive and international market cuisine. We began with selections from the glittering raw seafood bar. The tuna tartare was sumptuously presented on banana leaves in an opaque pink dish filled with chopped ice, and the lightly marinated scallops in porcelain St Jacques dishes were delightful in their sensual play of spices and textures. The main dishes were simple but lovely — Asian style noodles and free-range chicken with a savory layer of mushroom duxelles and sweet duck matched with diced turnip and rhubarb. The wine list offers a tour of both France and the world and the service throughout was gracious and efficient. EE

La Poêle d’Or 37 rue de Miromesnil, 8e, M° Miromesnil, tel: 01 42 65 78 60, open Mon to Fri lunch, Wed & Thur dinner. For five years Alain Bourgade was chef to the French Embassy in Washington, which is of course to say that he was really his country’s Ambassador.  Now the dashing Chef Bourgade has opened his own restaurant in the heart of Paris dedicated to the generosity and romance of French cuisine and drawing particular inspiration from his home region of the Cévennes.  Downstairs recalls a contemporary New York loft, with subtle grays, slate and wood accents, and soft linen colors. Upstairs is a cozy, romantic room with views onto little courtyards nestled against each other. The menu at La Poêle d’Or changes constantly, inspired by Chef Bourgade and his assistant Chef Frédéric Claudel’s morning explorations of the market at Rungis. After an unusual and delectable cocktail of crème de marron and white wine, our amuse bouche of warm brandade topped with slices of cod was nearly as copious as an entrée and offered a perfect lead into our imaginative, seafood-based first courses that revealed the talent of the chef. His nage of oysters and scallops in a champagne and cream sauce was delicious, the oysters adding powerful notes of the ocean, and the risotto with roasted langoustines had a lovely smoky flavor. These were crowned by a magnificent duo of tender veal fillet and sweetbreads, an outstanding success. EEE

Pomze 109 bd Haussmann, 8e, M° St-Augustin, tel: 01 42 65 65 83, closed Sun, menu 29E. What better place to take a date than an establishment given over to the wonders and versatility of the forbidden fruit? This unique concept for a contemporary restaurant was the brainchild of a talented pair of brothers, Daniel and Emmanuel Dayan, who have based their establishment on apples and all their possible derivatives and variations.  The restaurant itself is on three stories, creating different spaces that allow the customer to choose according to the mood at hand: cozy cut-stone cellars, a contemporary bar space on the ground floor that also features a stylish boutique, and a sophisticated, intimate upstairs dining area, with beautiful floral presentations featuring apples. After beginning with a cider aperitif from an impressive list of single variety small producers, we sampled the artichoke and apple tartare, which was light, zesty and refreshing and two faultless main courses: a young rabbit wrapped in a crisp feuille de brik flavored with an apple butter sauce and Chinese cabbage, and a stately beef fillet served on a potato and apple pancake. The shortbread with a poached apple made a light finish to the meal. E

Flora Danica 142 av des Champs-Elysées, 8e, M° Georges V, tel: 01 44 13 86 26, open daily. High power businesspeople and media personalities bestow hushed glamour to this sleek, sophisticated restaurant and its retro-inspired 1960s décor with champagne-hued walls, blond wood, muted rust-red carpet, large mirrors and tapering towers of lamps recalls the thrilling period when Paris was the capital of urbane style and design. The spacious enclosed garden with its huge windows was surprisingly cozy when we dined there on a biting winter’s day and the snow lying amongst the plants outside added to the Nordic atmosphere and appeal. Eel, herring and both wild and organically farmed salmon feature strongly among the entrées, respecting the Danish character of the restaurant, and we were particularly struck with the texture and flavor of the marinated herring. This is probably the only restaurant in Paris where you’ll find reindeer on the menu, and although it arrived well-done instead of medium as ordered, it was of such tenderness and flavor and accompanied by such a delicate accompaniment of poached fruits, that it was superb. For lovers of all things Danish, there is a sumptuous brunch menu every Sunday from 12am to 5pm for 35E per person. EEE

Dédicace Café 7 rue St-Benoît, 6e, M° St-Germain-des-Prés, tel: 01 42 61 12 70, open daily, menus 29E & 35E. The interior of this discreet, low-lit restaurant creates a perfect ambiance for an intimate tête à tête with your significant other.  Mustard-colored walls and chocolate and caramel-toned tables glow under faux candelabra masked by golden quills or Japanese paper with quotations from famous literary locals such as Apollinaire.  The menu aims to please on all counts from the light mix of young greens dressed in truffle oil with shavings of Parmesan cheese to the superb tender gambas wrapped in crisp filo pastry, with chutney adding a hint of sweetness. The main dishes were notable for their simplicity, emphasizing the freshness of the ingredients -—steamed sea bass with fennel and a pesto emulsion and a whole grilled sea bream with a slightly bitter polenta and olives. The desserts made a light and delicious conclusion with roasted mango and caramel coulis and a delectable soft chocolate cake with coconut ice cream. We were also delighted with our white 1998 Mercurey for 35E.  EE

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Price Key: E = up to 30E,  EE = up to 45E,  EEE = up to 60E. Prices are based on the average cost of an entrée, a main course and a dessert and do not include wine.   Although every care is made compiling estimates, we cannot assume any responsibility for any fluctuations or changes.




Flora Danica.