The literal translation of this restaurant’s name is “mad is he who doesn’t eat them”, referring to chicken oysters (the ‘sot-l’y-laisse’) – supposedly the most succulent parts of the bird found next to the ilium bone. A more relevant meaning, however, would be “mad is he who doesn’t eat here”: Japanese chef Eiji Doihara’s new venture has to be one of the most best-value eateries in Paris right now, serving excellently-executed, traditional French cuisine made from the freshest ingredients, including vegetables by local farmer Joël Thiébault, supplier to most of Paris’ top restaurants.
You’d never know you’re in for a treat from the outside: The façade is painted a sickly Bordeaux colour, with broken fairy lights hanging over the restaurant’s name. And inside isn’t much better (although spotlessly clean), with pale yellow walls, metal pillars with chipped red paint, and shelves that look like they were bought at Castorama in the 80s. But what the Sot l’y Laisse lacks in quality décor, it makes up for tenfold on the plate. Chef Eiji worked for Paul Bocuse in Tokyo and it shows.
Our evening meal consisted of a starter of pan-fried foie gras on a bed of risotto, and chicken oysters with salsify emulsion – both presented elegantly in pristine white porcelain plates. The foie gras sliced like butter, its juicy innards mixing appetisingly with the cheesy risotto; while the chicken oysters (easily eight in the dish) married themselves faultlessly with the crunchy salsifies – the lot hidden below a frothy salsify mousse.
Next up came what has to be the best côte de veau (rib of veal) we had ever tasted. It was served for two, straight off the bone, and fell in pink, tender medallions edged with crispy golden skin. It came with red onions, baked in their jackets with large crystals of cracked salt. We pierced the onionskin to reveal a deliciously smooth purée that we smothered liberally onto the meat; and on the side, a simple, but perfectly executed potato gratin added a pleasant creamy element to the dish.
For dessert we chose crème brûlée (lovely and smooth just as it should be) and a black sesame panacotta (the only real nod to the chef’s Japanese origins), which was delightful, with nutty notes and a velveteen texture.
A quirk to note about the wine is that that there is no list, just two tables at the restaurant entrance, strewn with quaffable reds and whites (mostly natural wines) for you to choose between. The prices (hardly anything below 26€) are written on the bottles.
If you're on a budget come at lunchtime for the 18€ menu. You get the same quality products and the same sized portions for a quarter of the price!