Add: 66 Rue Mazarine 75006 Paris, France
Tel: 01 43 29 33 83
Hours: [lunch] 12~2pm [dinner] 8~10pm (closed Sun & Mon)
Price: carte blanceh €69 or €99, with wine pairing €169
Visited on: 2012/09
How do I even begin to write about my lunch at Agapé Substance? During the 3-hour meal, I had no less than 20 dishes (amuse bouche included) float through my table. Chef David Toutain, ex-L’Arpège and Mugaritz, pours forth an inundation of gorgeous small plates using pristine ingredients and artful presentations, with just a dash of molecular technique. Not everything struck a chord with me, but there were a few dishes that truly wowed. Ready for the ride?
18 tables around a counter with 3 tables for 2 on its side, that’s all there is to Agapé Substance. The space is quite snug, but mirrors on three sides of the room (ceiling included) help alleviate the tightness of it all.
A menu is offered, but it’s simply a list of ingredients. €69 for a smaller menu (not written, but I heard you can request this), €99 for the full menu, or €169 with wine pairing.
We started with a few amuse bouches that teased the senses with vibrant colors and concentrated flavors. Here’s a sponge cake of peas and verbana.
Fried pig trotter with herring roe.
Seasonal vegetables with miso mayonnaise.
Butternut squash tempura on charcoal.
We didn’t go for the wine pairing option, but ordered individual glasses on the side, starting with a crisp white.
Tomato with basil sorbet.
King crab in yuba soy milk with dill oil. This one I adored!
Bordier sea salt and seaweed butter served with traditional baguette, sesame baguette, and country bread. Life doesn’t get much better than this.
White tuna crusted with powdered flower (the name escapes me). The white tuna had an exceptionally clean taste with a very fine texture, its flavor accentuated by a powdered flower which, surprisingly, tasted like bitter almond!
Slow-poached egg with corn and cumin.
Eel in black sesame sauce with Granny Smith. The addition of Granny Smith, chopped in tiny cubes, was unexpected but worked really well. It added tartness to an otherwise very rich dish and kept the taste buds awake for what was to come next.
Duck foie gras with zucchini in potato skin consommé. Foie gras can sometimes be too greasy, but the sliver here was handled very well – creamy and rich, but not overly so. Also, do take note that it’s bathed in a potato skin (not potato) consommé, which had an extra smoky flavor to it.
Carrot, galangal, yuzu sorbet.
Squid with ink sauce and green onions.
Cepe mushroom with hazelnut foam and sweet onions. Another brilliant dish that allows the main ingredient to speak for itself.
Pork with turnips and honey mustard. The meat was actually less tender than expected, but still a mesmerizing piece.
Comté cheese, 4 years maturation. Most Comté cheeses are aged from 12 to 18 months, though some high-class restaurants can carry Comtés aged for a longer time. L’Arpège (Alain Passard’s three-star restaurant, where David Toutain used to work) is known to carry a four-year-old Comté, and it looks like Toutain has carried this over to Agapé Substance.
Wheat ice-cream with black currant and quail egg. Raw egg in a dessert? That’s a first for me. The combination is definitely intriguing, though I’m not sure if I really loved it.
Strawberries with parsley ice-cream and hibiscus flower mousse.
Chocolate cake, a simple but satisfying ending.
Dining at Agapé Substance is no doubt a memorable experience. Each bite is small, but the flavors are intensely concentrated, keeping diners on their toes for what’s to come next. Not all the dishes worked for me, but the creativeness of it all was an especially welcomed change of scene as I have been eating at more traditional bistros since arriving in Paris. If you are also looking to be surprised and intrigued, Agapé Substance might just be what you are after.