Sunday, January 5, 2014

Cool Cuisine

The rumblings began months and months ago: A new raw-food restaurant was due to launch at any moment in a Rive Droite neighborhood fast becoming Paris's new vegan epicenter. There was even a website to support the titillating notion, and a Facebook page, too. So why, then, won't anyone confirm an opening date, or respond to multiple emails begging for an address?

The two-course lunch special sets you back 14 euros
My reason for making repeated contact were more than personal; my next book, Vegetarian Paris, is about to go to press, and I really wanted to include this newcomer, especially considering that raw is a rarity in this city. (Pousse Pousse, a delightful little spot just a few blocks away, has been the only restaurant cru up until now.) I was stoked to hear it opened on December 21, while I was away in San Francisco. I couldn't wait to get back and see what it was all about.

We arrived 1ish on Friday, and were excited to see that we weren't the only folks hungry for something fresh. Settling into our table, I looked to my right and there sat Amelie Pieron, whom I'd met at a pop-up raw-food brunch she hosted in the 17e last year. (She has one last spot available at a pop-up dinner she's hosting on January 8. Get in touch if you want to try her amazing raw cuisine.) I was beginning to like this place already!

The menu at 42 Degres is eclectic, featuring pizzas, maki, soups, burgers, and desserts. Cashews are an integral component of many dishes, but they also make use of novel ingredients, such as parsnips, to replicate the look and texture of rice in their sushi rolls. The a la carte menu ranges from 7-9 euros for entrees and desserts and 11-14 euros for plats. The two-course daily lunch formule costs 14 euro; at night, you get three courses for 27 euro. The drinks menu features bottled organic juices, natural wines, kombucha, and not-very-raw coffee.

The beet "millefeuille" with cashew cream.

One waitperson serviced a busy lunch crowd and did it well.

Our waitperson was efficient but didn't exude a particularly welcoming vibe, but that was OK. The ambiance and our own anticipation made up for it.

The food, when it arrived, was devoured in approximately 5 minutes, and not because we're gluttons; the portions were small. (With the exception of the rather grand-looking bowl of vegetable "noodles" delivered to several other tables, which made us wish we'd ordered that instead.)  My dining partner found his a la carte portobello burger trop salee, though he managed to consume it in its diminutive entirety without further complaint.

I went for the two-course special, which promised a betterave millefeuille avec creme de cajou, and that's exactly what arrived, together with a tasty salad dusted with nut crumbs. I just wish it had been several sizes larger. When we joked about heading around the corner to VG Burger for lunch #2, neither of us was completely sure if the other was serious or not.

Dessert--a lemon tart with a nutty crust--was tasty and different from other raw desserts I've enjoyed, and not just because it was served warm. The filling had the consistency of a pudding, and seemed very "un-raw"--so much so that I asked if it was made, by chance, with soy. I was assured it was made with cashews, and that no soy is used in the restaurant. (I should have known better.)

The portobello "burger" with kale "chips."


The tarte au citron, which arrived at the table in a very un-raw warm state.

My verdict? Good but not great. Like many raw restaurants, it suffers from the less-is-more-money syndrome, and there are still a few kinks (like over-salted dishes) that need to be worked out in the kitchen. But generally, the food is tasty and I'm excited they're here to give visiting vegans and locals alike more varied dining possibilities.

2 comments:

  1. This place looks fun! And you ran into Amelie! And they have kale chips! PS: WELCOME back! xx

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    1. Merci! And hurray for kale just being, like, on a menu at a regular(ish) place! So exciting and it's all your fault :-)

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