I just came back from a week-long trip in Paris. During that trip, I’ve been to ten restaurants that have received serious buzz in Paris. Overall, I would say I ate very well in Paris, and I’ve had plenty of nice surprises that I hadn’t seen or tasted even in New York City. The first destination of my culinary journey in Paris was Saturne, where chef Sven Chartier works with sommelier Ewen Lemoigne to feature a restaurant with inventive dishes and extensive and carefully selected wine list. A quick word before my review: I’ve only had tasting menus at the restaurants in Paris that I had visited, and given that the menus change as frequently as on a daily basis, my review of these restaurants would focus more on my overall impression of the tasting menu as a whole rather than a dish-by-dish analysis approach that I usually take in reviewing NYC restaurants. For diners looking to get some helpful tips for restaurants in Paris, I think that would be more useful for them to get to know a restaurant rather than an analysis of each dish that may not even be there next week.
The dining room at Saturne has that minimalist look of Scandinavian style. Not surprisingly, chef Chartier happens to come from a Scandinavian background according to one of my servers, and such Scandinavian/Nordic influence is all over the dishes much to my liking. I’ve been always impressed by the ability of Scandinavian/Nordic restaurants in NYC to blend ingredients with different flavors and textures to create unique dishes, and such was the case here. Just when I thought I was going to be overwhelmed by the saltiness of smoked eel in the first dish, the rest of the ingredients (beets, goat cheese and onion) combined to counterbalance it and created an interesting flavor. I felt the same effect from the leeks and gooseberry that combined to complement the raw mackerel.
The third dish, however, really reflected the true beauty of Scandinavian style incorporated into French cuisine. Pollock that came with egg yolk, lobster foam, black crispy mushroom and mushroom puree had that elegant balance of flavor working in beautiful harmony with the perfectly cooked fish. I’ve had plenty of excellent seafood dishes this year, but the pollock at Saturne was one of the best for sure! Even the desserts had the kind of moderated elegance of Scandinavian touch. Both the strawberry combined with almond mousse and almond parfait and the chocolate with hay cream, buckwheat ice cream and dark chocolate crumble had the plating display and ingredient composition that’s rooted in nature that the Scandinavian cuisine strives to emphasize. Neither dish was overly sweet, and had the complexity of flavor and texture that I hadn’t quite experienced before.
The servers were friendly, and the atmosphere of the restaurant was certainly pretty casual despite its location close to the Paris bourse (stock exchange). The six-course tasting menu that I had cost 65 euros per person, which I do think is a reasonable bargain even though there is an a la carte option (in Paris, each dish from a la carte option can be even pricier than NYC, which makes going the tasting menu route feel even more sensible). I ordered one bottle of wine, but I now second-guess whether I should’ve just gone for the wine pairing, which would’ve set me back an extra 60 euros (the wine bottle that I ordered came at slightly over 40 euros, so not much of a price hike). To sum it up, if you want to see how Scandinavian influence based on the concept of nature is incorporated into French cuisine, Saturne is an great place in Paris to visit.
- Creativity: 9.0/10
- Execution: 8.5/10
- Ingredients: 8.5/10
- Flavor: 8.5/10
- Texture: 8.5/10
Address: 17, rue Notre-Dame des Virtoires, 75002, Paris, France