Le Dauphin

We’re back with more news on Chef Inaki Aizpitarte, who to some is a culinary genius and an up-and-coming Chef on the Parisian food scene, while others think it’s just all overrated. 

I’m not an adoring fan of Chef Inaki but his cooking is good. 

I’ve blogged about the Chef previously, after my visit to Chateaubriand about 3 months ago. I was very impressed at first but having eaten there a couple of times; some of the dishes became less memorable – perhaps that’s where the mixed reviews of the restaurant come from? But the food is nonetheless good, moving Inaki’s restaurant to 11th in Restaurant Magazine’s World’s 50 Best Restaurant List and beating culinary giants such as Gagnaire, Robuchon and Troisgros. 

Last night though, I spent an evening at Le Dauphin, his most recent venture a few doors down from Le Chateaubriand. It looks like a Parisian tabac from the outside; very uninteresting place to be honest but made a total makeover with Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas who magnificently transformed it into a modern Carrara-marbled wine bar serving more than tapas-like plates with natural wines from France. There’s marble everywhere (the floor, the walls, the ceiling! The place is sleek, the decor minimal (but much nicer looking than Le Chateaubriand) and some dining tables laid out around the wine bar. Like Le Chateaubriand, the menu is a single sheet of A4 paper with a list of dishes that they serve – apparently it changes weekly. It’s simple, nothing overdone – just what you need to know really. 

Mirrored walls in the back leading to the kitchen

I made a reservation for 7.45 pm, which was quite early, but the place immediately got packed by 8.30 pm with people typically at the wine bar (it is a wine bar in the end). I think when there was an initial buzz, it was hard to get a reservation but now not so much + it might just be worth walking in to have a glass of wine or two and munch on 2-3 dishes. 

As for the wine list, there’s a variety of natural wines from France including Bordeaux and Burgundy but it leans toward the Loire Valley and promotes natural wine producers that I enjoyed at Le Chateaubriand as well; reasonably priced at 5 euros per glass and around 30 euros per bottle. 

We should be clear that the portions are not tapas-style like in San Sebastian, Spain, they are a little larger, more generous and I can’t really pinpoint exactly the ‘type’ of food he serves – it’s eclectic: French, Spanish, Japanese – kinda of like Chateaubriand where Inaki twists traditional dishes such as pig’s feet, steak tartare by bringing out the original and base flavors of the dish – not overpowering it with other accompanying ingredients. 

However, unfortunately, I found there to be a lack of salt in the dishes – perhaps purposely done to accentuate the original taste? I do like a lot of salt…I was overall more impressed with this restaurant than Chateaubriand, it’s something different and the food choice was more interesting – it was from the carte (whereas Chateaubriand is a prix-fixe for 50 euros). The prices of the dishes were reasonable for Parisian standards; between 8 – 10 euros, but serve this in Spain, I’d think he’d go out of business. 

Terrine de Foie Gras

Pluma Iberico, Radicchio (Pork fillet served crispy on the outside and rare…yes rare on the inside) – very impressive

Encornets a la plancha (Fried squid)

Eperlan en Friture (Deep-fried Smelt fish)

Poulpe Tandoori (Tandoori Octopus)

Steak tartare – hand cut steak with capers, fresh herbs and radish

Cochon de Lait Bigorre (Suckling Pig with Celery puree)

Along with the Pluma, the suckling pig stood out as the most flavorful dish, though I wished that the skin had a little bit more crisp to it. 

If you’re willing to make the trek to the 11th arrondissement, definitely come here for a glass of natural wine or two and chow down on some good portioned tapas from Inaki Aizpitarte’s new venture which holds already a lot of recognition at reasonable prices – so come before they increase! 

Le Dauphin 
131, Avenue Parmentier, 75011
Metro: Goncourt (Ligne 11)
Tel: 01 48 06 58 41

One Response to “Le Dauphin”
  1. R.Valli says:

    hum… CONGRATULATIONS!!!!! 10.000 visits…

    You have to celebrate!!!! 😉

    keep going J!


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