Known for its creamy cheeses, crisp baguettes, decadent pastries and overall finesse and flavor, French cuisine is sometimes elegant, sometimes rustic, but always exquisite. The French take great pride in their cooking and it plays a significant role in their culture. It is said that in France the meal you present reflects upon you and your family. The bar for high culinary standards has certainly been set by the French.
One of the most remarkable things about French cuisine is the underlying variety. To be precise, early French cuisine can be traced back to the Italians. Wondering why this is? As the 15th century dawned, the highest of Renaissance culture flourished in Florence. Prosperity that spread beyond the very small royal population led to a new pastime – dining as entertainment, where common foods were decorated and seasoned to emphasize new flavors from improved storage techniques and discoveries in food preparation. Mushrooms, truffles, garlic, and otherwise infrequently used vegetables appeared in the world of cooking. However, the French were largely ignorant of these things, until Catherine de Medici, daughter of Duke of Urbino, arrived in France in the 1540s to become the bride of the future King Henri II. She brought with her cooking skills from the ways of Florence.
History aside, during its exciting tour around Europe, CovetED had the pleasure to visit the restaurant Le Comptoir Gourmet in Paris, France where we fell in love with French food, as you may have already noticed. The Michelin-starred restaurant goes back to the origins of French cuisine and mixes the great art of French cooking with authentic Italian ingredients in an elegant and cozy space.
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The model of the restaurant consists of a menu which changes weekly showcasing seasonal ingredients sourced from sustainable farms, and highlighting novel and traditional techniques. Just what we were looking for that sunny afternoon while taking a stroll after a day well spent visiting Paris.
We were very warmly received by Xavier Sautier, one of the owners of the restaurant. He loves to chat with foodies like ourselves so we got to know more about Le Comptoir Gourmet first hand. After returning from London with the intention of starting a new life, he and his partners decided to buy the space which is now home to this fabulous restaurant. Together with friends he traveled throughout France and Italy to select products from small producers in the countryside. While visiting these producers they also encouraged them to sell their products in Paris where urban dwellers show a keen interest in countryside production as they have few opportunities to go there.
If you visit Le Comptoir Gourmet, you’ll find that everybody knows each other. The team and the regular customers are almost like family. You will meet people of different ages and cultures in an exceptionally friendly and cozy atmosphere.
The fast-casual concept known for its chef-driven menu
The restaurant is known for its traditional crepe recipe, a specialty from India and Romania that is made by cooking it with cheese only and then reopening it to add fillings. This technique allows the ingredients inside to keep their freshness and taste, without cooking everything as a Panini is usually prepared.
This is a place where endless flavors will astound you throughout the year. Among the partners of the restaurant there is the local patisserie, the bakery. The truffles are grown and brought from the region of Alba (Italy)…. And Xavier knows every single one of the partners and producers who work with Le Comptoir Gourmet in person.
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We highly recommend tasting the Pastourelle Piadina with cooked ham, herbs, and black truffle oil – it will most certainly make even the most demanding visitor fall in love with Le Comptoir Gourmet.
To see what truly makes a meal here so special, we recommend tasting La Franc-Bourgeois. This is a special crepe with Norwegian smoked salmon, mozzarella, decorated with dill, lemon and rocket.
Whether you’re looking for Tiramisu or not, you should certainly pop in to Le Comptoir Gourmet for their dessert. The chef of the restaurant will do his best to serve the most delicious chocolate fondant cake or Vin Santo with cantuccini.
All in all, Le Comptoir Gourmet in Paris gives visitors a chance to get a unique cultural experience that mixes flavorful, nutritious food with beauty and leisure.
People go out to eat for all kinds of reasons. Some go for the dishes, some for the service, and some just because a food magazine told them to. But at the end of the day, everyone goes back to the place they enjoyed the most. The place that is actually unique. Xavier Sautierʼs understanding of this is nothing short of a culinary revolution.
All the materials are raw – wood, stone, but slightly modernized and more complex. “In this way, we keep the originality” explains Xavier Sautier, “we wanted to focus on the authenticity.”
The high-top tables promote communication. “When someone comes alone we say you’re not alone, you’re with us, because a high table allows that. In the back we have a club style, if people want to be more quiet”. Modern details like graphic wall paper contrast with natural materials like stone and wood. So when you analyze this decoration, it is neither French, nor Italian, but rooted in the values of the restaurant.
French dishes only seen on culinary-school exams (rabbit ballotine, pike quenelles) so delicately and artfully created that they suddenly seem totally fresh and new.
Xavier Sautier is unmistakably concerned with the food that goes out on his plates, but he pays even closer attention to the people eating it. And that’s when it hits us: Le Comptoir Gourmet isn’t just a restaurant; it’s an Embassy of Taste.