Restaurant reviews | Les Déserteurs, Paris: two talented renegades

Restaurant reviews

Les Déserteurs, Paris: two talented renegades

I didn’t manage to get to the highly-regarded Le Sargent Recruteur before I heard the original team had moved on so it was good to find them installed at 46 rue Trousseau, the former home of another hit restaurant, Rino*.

Les Déserteurs is obviously an ironic reference to their move.

It’s a really small space with just a few tables - in many ways more like a contemporary café than a restaurant. They’ve obviously decided the best way to make it work is to have a no-choice menu but they accompany it with a long and eclectic wine list, covering not just France but Spain, Italy and Austria.

The food is lovely - simple but imaginative with a perfect balance to every dish. A starter of raw daurade (seabream) with shredded black radish, an angelica dressing and dabs of sorrel purée flavoured with just the right amount of kaffir lime was sensationally good - beautiful to look at and full of vibrant flavours - one of the best starters I’ve had this year.

The main course of braised ham (name-checked as ‘jambon du Cantal de Mr Laborie) was boldly paired with some raw Japanese greens, fresh horseradish and creamy white polenta but they happily tweaked it for my dairy-intolerant husband substituting some mushrooms and a gorgeous quince and celeriac purée that was a brilliant match for a glass of orange wine (Ageno) he had ordered with his first course. It was also great with the main bottle we were drinking - a bright juicy Maupertuis, Les Pierres Noires.

We might have been tempted to skip dessert if they hadn’t craftily brought it round on a board beforehand - a simple but delicious apple tart, packed with apple, dusted - I think - with dried rose petals and served with a silky scoop of salted caramel ice cream. It seemed rude not to have a glass of sweet wine with it, an exotic 2010 Alois Kracher Beernenauslese

What particularly struck us was how friendly and hospitable they were. Two of the tables were celebrating birthdays - with children - and they couldn’t have been sweeter to them. Unusual for Paris, it has to be said, and for a restaurant this chic.

Lovely place. Do go.

Les Déserteurs is at 46 rue Trousseau, in the 11th arrondissment. Tel: +33 1 48 06 95 85. Our bill for 2 was 104€ though almost half of that was on wine! The fixed price three course lunch menu costs just 28€ - incredibly reasonable for food of this quality.

You may also find this post from my April 2014 trip to Paris useful

(*still looking for new premises, I gather)

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