A number of people have asked me to recommend restaurants near the Opéra, which is a quartier not well represented in my blog. The reason for this is simple: there are not a lot of good restaurants in that area. However, my wife and I recently discovered a really fine restaurant in the area, Jean, near Notre-Dame-de-Lorette and perhaps fifteen minutes' walk from the Opéra.
Jean has imaginative, attractively presented food in a comfortable setting with capable team-style service. There is a moderate-sized but very attractive à la carte selection, as well as a 3-course menu for 45 euros, a 4-course menu gastronomique for 65 euros and a 7-course menu gastronomique for 78 euros.
We opted for the 4-course and were very happy. After several interesting amuse-bouches, we started with an inspired cauliflower (yes!) dish, consisting of cauliflower puree and tiny cooked florets, topped with thin raw slices, perfectly perfumed with a hint of sancho pepper oil. Next was sauteed scallops with a creamy almond sauce, topped with small slices of sauteed abalone and served over crispy cabbage. The meat course was a perfectly cooked fillet of venison with a simple but classic jus (my wife, a non-lover of venison, was offered an excellent magret de canard instead).
Dessert was a heavenly chocolate disk filled with a creamy mixture of flavors that we could not identify, and some little pastries on the plate. The pastry chef is an American woman, Alison Johnson, who previously was pastry chef at Artisanal, Picholine and Eleven Madison Park in New York City. This altogether satisfying meal was completed by a complimentary cognac.
Our menu did not include a cheese course, but we were tempted by the relatively small, but well chosen, selection of perfectly ripened cheeses. However, we were lucky enough to enjoy the aromas as the woman at the adjacent table ordered a small piece of each of the ten or so cheeses on the plate.
Jean, 8 rue St-Lazare (Métro Notre-Dame-de-Lorette), 9ème.