Le Grand Bain
The gilded hands of British chef Edward Delling Williams were already shining bright when he made sparks at Au Passage (and at St. John in London) with his chef de rang Edouard Lax. In Belleville, the two accomplices partnered up with Alexandre Janssens (who doubled as the interior designer for this project) and metamorphosized this run-down Iberian dive into a Manhattan-esque restaurant/loft: a brass and wood U-shaped bar, a hanging glass rack, powdered concrete walls, industrial string lights, vintage tables, faux leather benches…. On the blackboard menu, there are around twenty combustible little bombs, whose fuses are lit live in the windowed kitchen. A few examples: two oysters under a glass bell wrapped in spirals of apple wood smoke (€8); two grilled scallops and purple shiso in a divine bonito-artichoke dashi broth (€7); celestial vanilla-infused broccoli orbited by crisp bone marrow, lemon confit, and charred leeks (€5); exquisite mega-fries served with a majestic hollondaise sauce (€6); a disappointing blow via the chewy beef Wellington with magic mushroom duxelles, right before an exciting and airy flambéed floating island on an insanely delicious little sea of crème anglaise. As for the wines, the bottles get straight to the point and don’t disappoint: a lively vinho verde Silex from Vinibio (€4.50 a glass), a Vin de France Gamay de Bourgogne Metisse from the Domaine du Sextant (€22 a bottle), etc. Portions from €4 to €12. À la carte €30-45, Sunday Roast €27. // M.J.-D.