Along the bar-lined rue Oberkampf, food usually serves as little more than a sponge for alcohol. It’s a different story at Pierre Sang, where by 7.30pm the stools facing the narrow open kitchen were already filled with food-lovers anxious to taste the subtly Asian-influenced cooking of this Top Chef finalist.
If the young Sang can already claim celebrity status - he occasionally interrupts his cooking to pose for photos with diners - success does not seem to have gone to his head. During our meal, we watched him orchestrate the well-timed service, joke with staff and explain his recipes to curious diners without a hint of impatience. When our fried courgette flowers sat untouched as we chatted, he urged us to enjoy them while they were still hot.
The waiters, too, put diners at ease with their unforced enthusiasm. “We have no pretentions,” said one, describing the tapas-style food. Yet the series of small plates went well beyond what you might reasonably expect for €35, the cost of the six-course menu (an extra seasonal dish, such as wild duck, is available for €15 more).
First came a deconstructed bistro classic, herrings in oil. Presented here in a small portion rather than the usual help-yourself terrine, it was enlivened by barely-cooked green beans, lemony cream sauce and pickled onions. Next, the unlikely match of chunky pâté (his grandmother’s recipe, Sang said) and foamy yuzu sauce didn’t quite work, but we could easily forgive this faux pas in an otherwise well-balanced meal. After a beautiful baby courgette with its flower cooked tempura-style and served on a lemony aubergine purée, we tucked into spoon-tender beef cheek with creamy white polenta and a subtly spicy kimchi-style sauce made with Basque Espelette pepper. The cheese course took the form of pungent farmer’s raclette with a delicate coconut and prune sauce, while dessert was a light concoction involving semolina, mint granita and omicha, an Asian berry.
Wines by the glass cost €5 and can be paired with each course, but we stuck to a white Chinon that happily accompanied the entire meal. Lingering over our dessert we noticed Sang preparing different dishes for the second service, including pan-fried foie gras with figs and a huge pollack baked in a salt crust. The smile on his face showed that he has found the perfect setting for his spontaneous cooking style.
|Venue name:||Pierre Sang||Contact:|
55 rue Oberkampf
|Opening hours:||Tue-Fri noon-2.30pm, 7-10.30pm, Sat-Sun 7-10.30pm|
|Transport:||Métro Parmentier / Oberkampf|