A seriously grown-up and very French restaurant, La Fourchette du Printemps feels like a genuine neighbourhood find in the wilds of the 17th arrondissement, with its nearest neighbours an abandoned tramway and an industrial park. The little front room (no more than seven tables, with one long banquet-style table in a narrow space to the rear) is understated, with dark grey walls and plain furniture, and the meal is conducted in an atmosphere of hushed gratification (plus an incongruous, but not intrusive, soundtrack of Christina Aguilera and other dance floor fillers). The food, phrased as a series of set menus, is gourmand as well as gourmet, with the lightest selection comprising three courses with an amuse-bouche and pré-dessert; come hungry.
The lone waitress, ultra-competent and charming, brought us tiny cups of a vivid orange soup of seasonal vegetables, leading into our starters; a fine quenelle of silky foie gras with a scoop of intense orange chutney, and a lovely line of three firm scallops on a cushion of vegetable purée. Our mains were seriously rich; pale strips of veal with local mushrooms (sadly let down by a mouthful of sand – a black mark for veg prep) and a dark, fragrant, intense disc of hare cooked to an almost jelly-like state of softness – it needed its accompanying pot of macaroni, plain and comforting as a school day dinner. Then a breather before the pré-dessert – a shot glass of chocolate fondant – then our choices, more light-hearted than what went before: a zingingly fruity homemade mango macaroon, and a delightfully theatrical chocolate ‘surprise’ façon poires belle-hélene, whose chilled chocolate shell melted away under a stream of hot melted chocolate to reveal the ice cream and pears inside.
With couple of glasses of pleasantly fruity Sancerre (the cheapest on the menu at €7 a throw), this will cost you a cool €150 – come hungry, and come at the beginning of the month. La Fourchette du Printemps is not the most boisterous of crowd-pleasers, but it is a good and interesting place to eat modern French cuisine in Paris.