Vegetarian restaurants in Paris may not be on the same level as other international cities (perhaps because the French are so attached to their meat), but Sense Eat is proof that with conviction, ideas and talent, vegetarian food can be tasty and indulgent! We went down to test out their celebrated cuisine…
Sense Eat isn’t a concept, it’s several – healthy, vegetarian, organic slow food made using local produce, with gluten- and lactose-free options. Few restaurant in Paris do so much to try and preserve the environment.
The restaurant has a main room and raised area to the back, as well as a basement dining area that all seem comfortable.
The restaurant is in the heart of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, not far from our hotels, and the prices seem aligned to others in the area. We decided not to go for the truffle menu (50€ a starter and a main course!) and choose à la carte, which works our cheaper, if only a little.
As a little amuse-bouche we were given a little cube of polenta with mushrooms and creamed potato with coriander, served cold. A sweet little dish, and a good start to the evening.
Next, we shared ‘Il Fagiolo Solferino’, a sort of bean soup with pak choï (Chinese cabbage) and pioppini mushrooms braised in Barbera wine. The dish was melt-in-the-mouth, with warm foam and hot beans. The taste of the mushrooms was at the fore, and the foam around it surprisingly light.
Next up, for the main dish, our first choice was the ‘Ravioli d’infanzia alla Panna‘ – homemade raviolis (in fact, all the restaurant’s pasta is homemade) with sweet, smoked onion, a tart creamy sauce, Piedmont hazelnuts, angostura and wild Sicilian fennel.
It was a success, perfectly cooked (not excessively soft) with a subtle sauce. The truffle oil dressing was a good choice too – that smell!
Our second main was homemade gnocchis, once again with Piedmont hazelnuts and a reduced sage sauce.
The gnocchis was beautifully melty, and the taste of the sauce was almost like that of Jerusalem artichoke, surprisingly similar to a meaty taste. Just goes to show that sometimes you can eat vegetarian and not feel like something is missing.
Our desserts were just as good – pear spaghetti with a matcha tea and azuki bean ice cream (fresh, crunchy, sorbet with a lightly sweet taste and perhaps a hint of ginger?), and a rum baba that was nothing less than revolutionary, super light, with lovely whipped cream infused with orange blossom and vanilla, and ice cream with Frangelico liqueur. Wow !
Our meal was over, and the restaurant was now full, with a surprising number of young people! Perhaps the new generation has understood that you can love great food and still eat healthily.
If you think you don’t like vegetarian food, this might just be the restaurant to change your mind.