La toque ne tombe jamais loin de l'arbre

Restaurant Paulownia (Paris)

© Picture and Motion Studio, Paul Lombard

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At 15 Rue des Vignoles, a young and determined tree had already cracked its way through the pavement… Tess Duteuil (your sommelier and host) and Geoffrey Belin (her toque-wearing partner) took this as a sign that they should set up shop here, against the leafy paulownia tree after which their restaurant is now named. Struck by Cupid’s arrow while working for Passard, the duo tackled other restaurant-industry heavyweights before opening this extremely cozy spot with a windowed wine cellar, a rounded zinc-topped bar, and a daring kitchen. The night we went, the blackboard menu featured all of the following: a masterfully made miniature Auvergne pork pâté en croûte, paired with a shallot and smoked beetroot condiment, plus roasted apple and jus de viande; a stratospheric millefeuille composed of the finest seasonal vegetables (chanterelles, treviso, cabbage, radish, carrot, spinach and celery), prepared roasted, raw, grilled, in cream or in a moussey beurre blanc sauce; before rounding out the meal without another jewel-like creation, a cream puff filled with Madagascar vanilla whipped cream, plus a pistachio mousseline cream and a cheeky praline center. // Renaud Fuego 

FEELING THIRSTY? : Tess’s wine cellar hides an arsenal of low-intervention gems: Direct, a wild red from the Gard produced by Paul Chabal (€8 a glass); Grain de Sable, an Alsatian riesling with a hint of oxidative notes, vinified by Léo Dirringer (same price), Le Petit Chemin, a Angevin chenin from Benoît Courault (€39 a bottle)… 
PRICE: : À la carte €51-69. 

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