Septime - A Return Engagement, At Last

In a slight paraphrase of Paul Bremer's immortal words heralding the capture of Saddam Hussein on Dec. 14, exactly nine years ago to the day I am writing this, I can proudly boast, 'We got 'em.'  'Em' being two chairs at a table inside the much heralded Paris Michelin-starred Septime.  ON A FRIDAY NIGHT.  Let me repeat that.  ON A FRIDAY NIGHT. Read it and weep.  Perhaps even more elusive than a deposed despot on the run, I have chronicled the difficulties I have experienced snagging a Friday night reservation since my first inaugural visit to Septime in Nov. 2011.  If you are asking yourself, 'What's such a big deal about Friday night?' I could say, 'It's personal.'  Or I could explain how I am a creature of habit when it comes to eating in fancy restaurants. Or I could explain how it fits the agenda, especially in light of the restaurant's closing on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday afternoon.  Take your pick, and 'all of the above' is a possibility.  If you are wondering how I finally met with success, I am afraid to say that I am unwilling to disclose such precious information.  Yes, there is a trick.  If you send me a personal message, I will explain, but if I reveal it to the entire blogosphere, or the 50-60 daily visitors to this site, whichever comes first, I am afraid the competition will be too fierce and I will never get lucky again.

Given this preface, one would likely conclude that Septime is absolutely fantastic, to be that difficult to snag a coveted Fri. night reservation.  Well, that might be stretching it, but I am confident - now after two visits - to proclaim that Septime is very, very good.

What can you expect on the menu?  I have absolutely no idea.  Seriously.  The menu changes regularly, and upon arrival, you will be given a small tablet upon which a sheet of paper is attached barely describing what to expect.  "Carte Blanche' 55€, hinting at what will soon be fully explained by a waiter, that you will be brought in succession two entrees, one fish dish, one meat dish, and a dessert, and you don't get to find out what those plates will consist of until they arrive at the table (or until you espy a fellow diner beating you to the punch).  As Co. and I arrived at an early serving's 7:30 p.m., we had no idea what to expect.  As is pretty much the case in most of the better establishments in Paris, such arrangements always allow for dietary or health requests (e.g., fish instead of meat, no lardon, etc.).  No, the French are not soup Nazis, even if asking to have carrots instead of whatever other vegetable the chef has selected would result in the waiter looking at you as if you were a complete idiot.

Among the highlights of our meal was an epic dish of near-raw bonita fish with pieces of strawberry  and persil (1st photo), as well as a merlu with cresson (third photo).  Unfortunately, without a menu or the time to jot down each offering, I can't provide the entire repast, but as mentioned, it'll be different by the time you get there (if you get that reservation) anyway.

The dessert was humble, a growing trend in some of the local bistrots, with the chef eschewing the pyramid/foam motif for something elegant in its simplicity.  The wine, advised upon request, was excellent, a 2010 Girolamo Russo A Rinas Rosso Etna Sicilia.  Yes, Italian again.  If 2011 was the year of the beet in Paris, 2012 surely must be the year of the Italian wine.  And yes, you do get an eclectic and tempting wine list from which to choose, although I think I remember the waiter asking if we wanted glasses delivered 'carte blanche' as well.

There you have it.  If Septime is so difficult to reserve, there is good reason.  We all saw how little effect the capture of Saddam turned out to be - caught hiding in a hole on a farmstead 10 miles south of Tikrit - except to make matters worse in the US counterinsurgency efforts.  Dinner at Septime had a more positive effect - a perfectly satisfying Friday night dinner out in the capital.  Parisians - including some celebrities - knew this already.

80 rue de Charonne
Paris 11
tel. 01 43 67 38 29 

Dinner for 2 (55€ per person) + wine (38€) : 148€

Before bidding adieu for this installment, I should mention a couple of other very positive experiences leading up to the Septime return visit.  Two PRAB favorites- Fabrique 4 and Le Chateaubriand.  Which is another reason you haven't heard from me for a while.  Around the end of the year I seem to get a craving to go back.  I've already favorably reviewed both at this site, so I'll be brief.  Whereas Fabrique 4 was very good, Chateaubriand, as I have come to expect, was fantastic.


From Fabrique 4:

Tuna (main course) - 24.50€

Argentine entrecote (main course) - 26€

The main dishes were preceded by a plate of huitres a la flamande (14€) and a pancake de foie gras (15€), with desserts of creme brulee (9€) and cafe rizzotto (8.50€)

TEL. 01 58 59 06 47

Dinner for two 3-course meals + wine (Pinot Noir '09, 30€) + 1 cafe : 127€

Here was the lineup for the 9 Nov. visit to Le Chateaubriand:

3 amuses bouche
Encornet, pomme de terre, raifort  (photo 1)
Cabillaud, pissenlits, agrumes (photo 2)
Pintade, navets, tandoori (photo 3)
Lait ribot, herbes, beurre noisette (photo 4)
Tocino del cielo (photo 4)
(with the option of replacing the last two items - dessert - with fromages du jour, a tough call).

And some of the results, albeit with blurry photos (I keep experimenting with different devices, and unfortunately, this test with a new camera app for my ASUS Transformer tablet didn't do the job, but you'll get the idea):


Works of art, and they tasted damn good as well.  That lait ribot and herbes plate - amazingly, for dessert - was epic.

129 Avenue Parmentier\
Paris 11 
Phone:01 43 57 45 95

Dinner for 2 (60€ per person for 8 courses, including 3 preludes) + wine (35€) : 155€


1.   If you are in the mood to read a sad and tragic story, you could do worse than to read Thomas Ricks's Fiasco - The American Military Adventure in Iraq, which I finished around the time of these restaurant visits.  The title says it all.  And the aforementioned Paul Bremer doesn't come off very well - in fact, everybody hated him.

2.  I know I've been re-covering some old ground lately, but my list of new Paris eating establishments to try continues to grow, so keep checking as we get into the new year.  Just a reminder, that will be 2013.  Mark it on your calendar.  Before that, my annual end of year wrapup, coming soon to this very site.

3.  Any comments?  Comments, recommendations, gripes, etc. are more than welcome.  Just click on '(Aucune) Commentaire below.
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