Agapé Substance

It has only been 2 weeks since Agapé Substance has opened but food critics such as Bruno Verjus and Gilles Pudlowski have already invoked the word “genius” to describe Chef David Toutain. In the narrow space of 26 seats, most of them along the wooden communal table that leads to the open kitchen, diners get a glimpse of Toutain’s cooking.

Toutain has been working hard to get where he is now. The 30-year old Chef was third in line in L’Arpège (3-Michelin star), worked with notable Marc Veyrat  in Megève then went down to San Sebastian, Spain where he was Chef de Partie of Mugaritz (2-Michelin star) and briefly worked at Corton in New York, USA.

The decor (alongside the food) is different. Outside you are faced with a glass window that you cannot see across. The effect is the same inside. The table decor is simple and sitting so close to another customer really makes me feel like I was in a small bistro in Paris. The problem was that when the neighboring customers left, the table wasn’t cleaned right away.

The lighting was another problem. A the ceilings were low and neon lights were suspended above making it quite hot and stuffy and made the restaurant have a very hospital-like feel. In any case, here we eat in the dining room or kitchen; actually there is no separation.

The wine list, iPad style

Here, you will find (and taste) unusual but pristine ingredients in a very modern, artsy and Mugaritz-inspired presentation. Similar to Chef Jean-Francois Piège, Toutain presents diners with a menu containing a list of ingredients — egg, zucchini, crab to start, carrot, cod, monkfish for a second course, pigeon, veal, mushrooms, for a third course and chocolate, and peaches for dessert. You pick one from column A, etc. deciding whether you want 3 or 4 courses or just let the chef go wild. Lunch menus at €39 for 3 dishes, €51 for 4 dishes, and 65€ for carte blanche (at the hands of the Chef) while dinner is more pricey at €51, €78, and €99. I’d say go for the carte blanche as you will be able to taste extreme and intense flavored ingredients and dodge the bullet of being not satisfied with the ‘ingredient’ you choose.

The knife is back!

 

Amuse-Bouche: Berce avec gelée de yuzu, riz croquant 

Berce (plant from Jura mountains), with yuzu jelly and crispy rice

It was bitter, sweet, salty, crunchy, velvety in a single dish.

Oeuf: L’oeuf, avec amande fraiche, verveine et ail nouveau.

Egg, fresh almonds, jus of lemon verbana and garlic cream

 

Tourteau: avec condiment pomelos, consommé et écume de crevette grise plus carotte.

Crab, pomelos, consomme of carrot

Forward flavors lead the way in the combination of crab and grapefruit in a shrimp broth.

 

Carotte: Petites carottes, galanga, emulsion de fanes de carottes

Carrot with galanga (Thai ginger) with emulsion of carrot leaves

Courgette: émulsion de lavande, chipiron et couteau

Zucchini, lavender emulsion and razor clams

Abats: Abats et émulsion de foie gras

Veal kidney and emulsion of foie gras…..APOLOGIES for the picture, I think it makes it look horrible and disgusting but believe me it was my favorite dish and I was so excited to eat it when the waiters presented it to me that I just chowed it down!

St. Pierre, émulsion de curcuma – puis – Purée de patate douce a la vanille, feuille de citron, et roches

John Dory, emulsion of curcuma and underneath (hidden), puree of sweet potato and vanilla, and wild spinach

Underneath the fish (which was so moist and perfectly cooked – thank you sous-vide!) were the vegetables….I ate them and it was delicious and then I realized I forgot to take a photo…again…

Pigeon: betterave, sauce hibiscus

Baby pigeon, red beets with cream and hibiscus sauce

 

The dish that beat all the rest.

Fruits rouges: pistache, avocat

Red fruits with pistachio cake and avocado ice-cream

Pêche jaune: shiso, creme de sesame noir

Yellow peach with cream of black sesame and shiso

It has been a long time since I was taken aback with an inventive menu and chef (last was at Bigarrade). It was loud, fun, intense and charming despite some of the setbacks of decor. This is not the last time we are going to hear David Toutain’s name. It made me think about how the culinary world is changing, evolving. Is this what food will be like in the future? Little snapshots of intense and unusual ingredients? Is this, in the end, the future of cuisine? Something to think about…

Agapé Substance

Address: 66 rue Mazarine, 75006
Nearest transport: Odéon (Ligne 4 et 10)
Closed: Sunday and Monday
Telephone: 01 43 29 33 83
Website: http://www.agapesubstance.com/index.html

 

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