A year and some months in Paris has taught me that there is no such thing as a typical French dish. Instead, what we foreigners have assumed to be bonafide French dishes: boeuf bourguignon, duck confit, crepes, etc., are in fact regional dishes, the first from Burgundy, the second from the South-west and the last from Brittany. Each region has its own rich culinary culture, with specialties that capture the geographic and historical specificities, and it’s rare to find, outside Paris, a restaurant of one region outside its home turf. The one region lacking in iconic foods is Ile de France, that is to say Paris and its surrounding suburbs, but I guess the paucity of regional cuisine is more than made up by the excessive number of eateries in the city, French or otherwise.
Terroir Parisien, a chic new restaurant headlined by Le Meurice’s star chef Yannick Alleno, aims to introduce the locavore concept to Paris by highlighting ingredients produced in the Ile de France region. One might have tasted chef Alleno’s Paris-inspired dishes at the Michelin 3-starred Le Meurice, but over here the prices are definitely more democratic, and the food, while not gasps inducing, was largely quite delicious.
For starters, one could choose an onion soup (10e) inspired by the workman’s stew at Les Halles, the broth unapologetically meaty and further accentuated with bone marrow, the broiled cheese crust typically found stuck on the soup bowl reworked into bite-sized bowls of chewy, oozy cheese balls.
Charcuterie is also on display, sourced from famous charcutier Gilles Verot, best known among Anglophones for supplying Daniel Boulud’s restaurants with terrines and sausages. P and YJ, our dining companion of the evening, both pronounced their museau (beef muzzle terrine) (7e) quite good with the tangy vinaigrette.
The plats tended on hearty, simple and copious, though those ordering fish would do no wrong if YJ’s plate of firm, sweet skate meat (18e) was any indication. My order of alouettes sans tete (21e) did not feature headless larks but was instead rolled veal slices stuffed with meat and mushroom duxelle, the champignon de Paris appearing in a second form, sliced, buttered and soaked in deep veal fond.
P can never resist lamb, though Terroir Parisien’s version of agneau champvallon (19e), a casserole of lamb chops hidden under a cover of crisp potatos, was a tad too heavy even for him.
Keeping in mind the difficulty of locating good choux pastry in Singapore, P and I ordered the Paris Brest (7e as with the other desserts). Unfortunately, this version was sub-par, the pastry slightly tough and tasting refrigerated, whereas the hazelnut and caramel cream was too sweet.
Good thing YJ convinced me to take a bite of her flan. Flans are ubiquitous in Parisian bakeries but I’ve hardly ordered them as they always looked pasty and gummy. This flan changed my opinion, the solid custard underneath a blacken film silky smooth and fragrant with egg and vanilla. What can I say? Not all flans are made equals, and this one put its brethren to shame.
The modern space with a large oblong bar as its centerpiece evokes a relaxed, smart-casual vibe. The bar also outfits Terroir Parisien to be one of the rare places in town where a solo diner can be seated at the centre of action. But it is equally appropriate for a convivial meal amongst friends. So it’s fitting to say goodbye to YJ, one of our few French friends made this year at a restaurant that celebrates all things tasteful and Parisian.
Address: 24 Rue St Victor, 75005, Paris, France