L'Agrume - (Re)View From the Front

Okay, I promise this is my last review of L'Agrume, one of Mort & Co.'s current favorites...until further notice. Having waited too long to reserve a table, we were offered a couple stools at the counter overlooking chef Franck Marchesi-Grandi's one-man show in the restaurant's open kitchen. A bit hesitant, I took comfort from Margaret Kemps' Bonjour Paris blog, where she wrote:

L'Agrume is the talk of the town, “did you eat at the counter?” the key question. Fib if you have to, the whole repas won't cost what you'd pay for starters at Robuchon's Atelier.

So to the counter we went, and it was a treat. The food, as usual, was more than up to snuff. I've already written about how good the food is, so I won't repeat myself, but as usual, we couldn't resist the 37 euro menu degustation which, a couple Friday evenings ago, consisted of the following:

Tartare de dorade lie a la chair de tourteau - Citron et radi noir
(Sea bream tatar mixed with crab flesh - Lemon and horseradish)

Pommes - Charlotte - Celeri et ecume de truffe noire
(Small potatoes with celery root and black truffle cream)

Pave de bar poche - Etuvee de poireaux et ecume fumee
(Poached sea bass with leeks and smoked foam)

Poitrine de cochon fermrotie - Mousseline de carottes et condiment moutarde
(Roasted farm pork breast with carrot puree and mustard and herbs condiment)

Pomelos - Concombre et banane - Mousse de chocolat blanc et feuilletage
(Grapefruit - Cucumber and banana - White chocolate mousse and puff pastry)

(Come to think of it - cucumber, fruit or vegetable?)

To talk or not to talk? - that was the question, but once the chattier other couple to our right at the counter (which seats only four) started chipping in a few comments/questions for Monsieur Marchesi-Grandi, so did we. I assumed he was pretty much on automatic pilot, with most of the preparation having been taken care of prior to showtime. The other couple, convinced, to my chagrin, that my former town Boston is the most European American city - don't ask (obviously they'd never spent any time in Roxbury or S. Boston) - opted for ala carte choices, offering more opportunities to watch the chef at work, preparing Les 6 huitres roses super speciales No. 2 de L'Etang de Thau (The 6 super special pink oysters No.2) - not much to do there, but they definitely looked super, Pates 'Gnocchi Napolitains' truffe noire - creme - parmesan et jambon blanc (Napolitano gnocchi pasta with black truffle -cream - parmesan and white ham), among other tantalizing delights.

And what came out of the customer - cooking genius banter? Some fun discussion of favorite restaurants (thumbs up for Les Magnolias, La Gazzetta, Yam'Tcha, Frenchie, and Ze Kitchen Galerie, but down for Atelier Joël Robuchon, the latter considered too much of a factory for FMG's taste). Monsieur Marchesi-Grandi is also not very fond of New York City - a great place to hone his craft (which he did), but he wouldn't want to live there (so he left). And this mind-blowing revelation - he changes the menu degustation every day, according to personal whim and what he comes upon at the market each morning. What did I learn from a culinary perspective? When the poitrine de cochon is too hot to the touch, use prongs; foam rules; one can do amazing things with two tablespoons, one in each hand; and host Karine Perrin wears a killer perfume.

15, rue Des Fosses Saint-Marcel
75005 Paris
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