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Passage 53 - Everything but a bistro!
2009 in Paris saw the emergence of a new generation of restaurants with each one being more original and inventive than the other. Examples are Yam’Tcha, Frenchie and Passage 53.
Reading the press you get the impression that the latter, situated in one of the oldest passageways in Paris between the stock exchange and the Musée Grévin, is just another bistro offering a ‘rehash’ of regional cuisine.
The truth about Passage 53 is that it is indeed a real restaurant which likes to flirt with haute cuisine. Yet it does this in a very personal way, without too much pomp and with a desire to highlight the intrinsic qualities of the produce: meat from Hugo Desnoyer, vegetables from Joël Thiébault and Bordier butter.
The young owner, Guillaume Gedj, has donned the formerly prestigious role of “restaurant manager” with aplomb. Nowadays the title is used less, with the chefs now having ‘star’ statuses. But here the reverse is true and the Japanese chef Shinichi Sato remains in his first floor kitchen that is accessible via a 1798 spiral staircase listed as a historic monument.
The unassuming Shinichi Sato is a first class craftsman trained in the Tokyo Grand Hotel (3 Michelin stars) and at Mugaritz in San Sebastian (2 stars.) But it was particularly through contact with Pascal Barbot, chef at L’Astrance (3 stars), that Sato developed his style.
The cooking at Passage 53 is French and is based mainly on French products, but the sensitivity is decidedly Japanese with flavours which are always very clear and distinct, without being exuberant.
The lunch menu du marché offers 6 dishes for 45€, whilst the 60€ menu has 8 dishes. On each plate the portions are not huge, yet each dish provides new sensations and a perfect mastery of cooking.
By way of hors d’oeuvres you will find lightly fried, crisp violet artichokes placed on Gillardeau oysters, seasoned with fennel, apple and bergamot. The calamari with cauliflower cream and sliced fresh cauliflower invokes a desire to see the sea.
The pike perch fillet cooked at a low temperature has a centre which is pearly-pink. This is a superb fish dish which the chef enhances with a lemon coulis with leeks.
But the highlight of the meal has to be the Sologne pigeon, also cooked at a low temperature and served with quince purée, seasonal vegetables and pink and green radishes. It is an exceptionally tender and flavoursome dish which is delightful to look at.
Bringing the meal to a close, the two desserts are perfectly in tune with the previous dishes and leave you with a fresh palette. They are the lemon and verbena sorbet accompanied by diced grapefruit, lychee and bergamot; and the tarte tatin, with vanilla ice-cream and toffee apple.
As for the wine list, it offers a very attractive selection of Champagnes (Selosse, Egly Ouriet, Jacquesson) and Burgundies (Roulot, Trappet, Ramonet) with the possibility of having wines by the glass
As you can see Passage 53 is one of the new restaurants which are shaking up the small world of Parisian gastronomy. It offers a simple and refined setting, attentive service and a crafted cuisine which justifies the slightly high prices.
53, passage des Panoramas
Tel: +33 (0)1 42 33 04 35
Open everyday except Sundays.