The Kitchen Galerie bis restaurant in Paris

After a rather nice lunch at Ze Kitchen Galerie in early 2008, we were obviously excited to hear that they had opened a second, smaller (sweeter?) restaurant just down the road. Plus, chef William Ledeuil has just won the 2010 “best chef of the year” award in the new GaultMillau guide. Perfect!

So how did our visit go? How was the décor, how was the food? Read on, read on…

photos : JasonW
photos : JasonW

If you read our positive review of Ze Kitchen Galerie a while back, you’ll know that not only is the restaurant covered in modern art, but that the presentation of the dishes themselves is also very artistic. However, when successful restaurants open a second establishment it’s often to keep the chef happy and let him ‘express’ his frustrations a little. Often this means that he is split between two places, and consequently they both suffer.

Perhaps that true for some chefs, but William Ledueil seems to have pulling off this balancing act with a certain aplomb. It’s as if running Ze Kitchen Galerie his given him more than enough experience to be able to handle two restaurants at once. Building on what he knows best, the Kitchen Galerie Bis – open since ealry September 2009 – takes the original formula and adds a twist, adapting and reinventing both the style and the cuisine. After our disastrous visit to Le Timbre last month, we were very much looking forward to a great meal.

From outside, the restaurant does look much like an art gallery. Previously housing the Espadon Bleu (Blue Swordfish) restaurant, it has been redecorated with a more stately grey exterior and white interior to serve as a fitting backdrop for ‘the art’. With one main room and a smaller side room, the wall between the two now had rectangular cut-outs in it, lined with angled coloured mirrors. It’s a simple effect that works rather well.

Once again, we found that the art wasn’t all to our particular taste, but then how could it be? Everyone has a different idea of what they like (and quite rightly so). The canvases are mostly abstract and all colourful, not necessarily what I would like at home, but pleasant enough for a meal. Even the restaurant logo – and a dubious acronym it is too – isn’t afraid to be ‘edgy’ and ‘out there’…

And so, it was time to peruse the menu and start making the difficult choices.

The idea is to start with a selection of small first courses – what they call “Zors-d’oeuvre”. We ordered six for the two of us, simply asking for a selection without meat (no problem), plus some wine and sparkling water (filtered on site). We didn’t really have any idea what to expect, but what arrived shortly afterwards was pretty surprising…

These first courses are all served in dishes or bowls of different sizes, with their own style and – above all – each with their own individual taste. The presentation was great, and it was fun hopping from dish to dish, comparing the flavours and textures. Just seeing the photos again makes my mouth water!…

With an Asian theme, each dish was impeccably and delicately presented. Thinly sliced raw vegetable gave crunch and tang, the sauces and soups all had their own personalities, and the variety of tastes (and combination of tastes) made for a fun and delicious start to our meal!

After this very strong start we were already looking forward to the main courses. The Alessi cutlery of the first course was replaced by Robert Welch, as if to say “OK, you’ve had your the fun. Now get ready for something seriously good!”…

My companion’s choice went for the Strozzapreti pasta with shellfish served with a black sesame & Kombu seaweed condiment. Whereas in some restaurants the pasta dish is a wishy-washy letdown, here it was bursting with interesting taste and flavours, simple and yet intriguing. Trying to define the ingredients turned out to be a very interesting game, and once again the Asian influences were quite pronounced.

I opted for thegrilled scallops with a lychee and wasabi condiment. Once again, it was a dish with a variety of textures and flavours that surprises the tongue and puzzled the mind. I wasn’t sure that I could pick out the lychee in there, but the creamy foam and soft scallops melted in the mouth, and the tasty sauce left over was amazing with the restaurant’s tasty bread.

Obviously, our dishes quickly went from this…

…to this!

Wow!

Whilst our savoury stomachs were now full sated, our sugary stomachs were primed for action, and the dessert list looked interesting indeed…

We went for the chestnut and olive financier with kumquat confit, vanilla ice cream and olive oil. Sound like a strange mix? Funnily enough, the savoury/salty elements in the olive and olive oil really bring out the flavour in the sweet part of the dish. Clever stuff…

And let’s not forget the white chocolate & wasabi “Rebecca” soup with pistachio ice-cream. Another strange sounding combination handled with great success. The sweetness of the white chocolate (and mini meringues) was toned down by a very light hint of wasabi, and the ice cream helped smooth the whole thing out perfectly.

As you can tell, our meal at the Kitchen Galerie Bis was a success. The setting was comfortable and the staff all very welcoming. It isn’t the cheapest restaurant in town, but neither is it particularly expensive for the quality of food on offer. We recommend it!

The Kitchen Galerie Bis is at 25 Rue des Grands Augustins (here), not far from the Hôtel Jardin de l’Odéon and our other hotels. Open Tuesday – Saturday from midday to 2.30pm and from 7.00 – 11pm. Telephone +33 (0)1 46 33 00 85

To see the full Flickr gallery (galerie ?), click the play button below then click the four little arrows at the bottom right to enter extra delicious fullscreen mode 😉