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What is it with beards and natural wines?

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The amount of waiting staff and Sommeliers with beards (male only) is inextricably linked with the level of natural wines on their wine list. As we entered Septime I spied two blokes with full facial hair just stopping short of ZZ Top territory and two with designer stubble, I knew it was going to be a tough task to dodge orange wine here. After being seated in this comfortable, light and airy restaurant I found a terrific Champagne and we eased into a couple of hours of a faultless meal.

Septime is along the same vein as Le Chateaubriand or Saturne where things are stripped back, ecologically and socially conscience and what comes from the kitchen is modern and cutting edge. I actually think Septime is a better restaurant than the other two. The food is modern but not over-worked, service is professionally drilled, friendly and well paced and the overall decor is minimalist but warm and inviting. The Five course Carte Blanche degustation menu is terrific value at 55 euros per head and when it came to dessert time we were a little naughty and paid an extra 8 euros for a cheese wedgie.

Our 2006 David Leclapart L'Apotre Premier Cru Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut, Champagne was perfect for kicking off the meal and worked well with many of the dishes. It had a light nuttiness and piercing citrus fruits. It was intense and bone dry with a chalky finish. Pin head sized bubbles whipped up into a creamy mousse and lasted the whole bottle through. Our starter of beef tartare was chopped with shitake mushroom and drizzled with sesame paste that had a big squeeze of lemon juice in it. There was some coriander worked through the tartare and slices of raw turnip added crunch. It was surprisingly good with the Champers.

Surf and turf dish of the year was next. The tenderest tentacles of octopus were partnered with smoked sausage and caramelized onions. They lay on a light pool of wonderful meaty reduction and some crisp garlic shoots freshened things up. Next our most pleasant of waiters delivered a bowl housing trout that he explained came from a river in the Pays Basque. He went on to say that they could almost be classified as wild, I answered with ‘so they’re farmed then’ he replied with ‘yes’. Farmed or wild this was pristine fish and came with cooked and raw spinach, carrots and almonds. Everything lay in a well balanced asparagus broth and it was a dish of delightful textural contrasts and earthy complex flavours. There was a tart whip of vinegar flavour to the finish.

35 Euros will buy you a bottle of 2011 Domaine de la Grand Cour Fleurie V.V from the list and it is a beauty. All cherries, raspberries and plums with some chestnut nuttiness and some freshly grated ginger. It is velvety on the gums and finishes with mouthwatering acidity. It and the Champagne worked equally well with roasted veal belly. It looked like pork belly but had a channel of tripe near the skin. It was dry at the extremities but milky, sweet and rich near the tripe. It came with roasted cabbage, celeriac and fresh radishes and a jus of remarkable poise and balance.

I am generally not a huge blue cheese fan (says he who waxed lyrical about last night’s Roquefort) but the Bleu de Laqueuille served here is one of the most delicious cheeses I have had. The blue mould is subtle and cheese super creamy and sweet almost in a Gorganzola dolce kind of way. It’s partner on the plate was a superb piece of soft goats cheese with a light olive oil drizzled over the top and some black pepper.

The core ingrediant of our dessert was described by our waiter as half way between an apple and a pear. It tasted like fuji and some was poached, some sliced freshed. A scoop of polen ice cream accompanied with some raw cream and crumble made from Madagascar sugar. It was a triumphant combination of sweet and savoury flavours as well as again highlighting textural contrasts.

We finished with a very good coffee. This really is one of the best restaurants in Paris. You’ll feel comfortable in jeans so throw away that Armani as it hirsute over suits here.

Cheers
Jeremy

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