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Restaurant La Condesa in Paris

Rating: 90.
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La Condesa, a small 24-seat restaurant in Paris' 9th arrondissement, opened its doors in September 2017. Chef/owner is Mexican-bron Indra Carrillo, an Institut Paul Bocuse graduate, who has gained experience in some of the best kitchen's in the world, including Le Meurice (during the Yannick Alléno years), l'Astrance, Enoteca Pinchiorri in Florence, Noma in Copenhagen and Ginza Kojyu in Tokyo. In the year before opening his own restaurant, Indra Carrillo was one of the recipients of "Jeune Talent Gault Millau" award. 

The restaurant is open for lunch Monday through Friday and for dinner Monday through Saturday and you can choose between a 6-course tasting menu for €78, a 4-course tasting menu for €62 (only available from Tuesday through Thursday for dinner) and there's a set lunch menu for €38. I had lunch with my husband at La Condesa in February 2018 and we both ordered the 6-course tasting menu.

First to arrive was a corn cracker "sandwich" with a sunflower seed paste filling, shortly after followed by a sea urchin shell filled with dashi jelly, soft crab meat, covered with a light potato mousseline, and sprinkled with seaweed powder. A pleasing combination, the mousseline having a nice rich mouthfeel without being too heavy.

First course was a good-looking and balanced dish of lightly marinated mackerel, avocado puree and crunchy sliced daikon. Excellent firm mackerel with a clean taste and a nice rich and creamy finish, and paired well here with the avocado, which was delicately creamy with nice, grassy, vegetal notes. 

Next up was confit salmon served with potatoes and a terrific cress emulsion. A  beautiful piece of salmon with a wonderfully melting texture and topped with crunchy toasted buckwheat and some finely grated shallot (marinated in white balsamic vinegar). Equally wonderful was the seasoning of the peppery cress emulsion, which also had been flavoured with some crème fraîche, to give it a touch of luxury, and finally the tasty potatoes, still being ever so slightly al dente. A superb dish with a wonderful marriage of flavours, the clever shallot seasoning adding the perfect pungency. A great way to enjoy salmon.

Third course was langoustine accompanied by a selection of gently grilled bitter Italian leaves, crosnes (one coated with crunchy bread crumbs) and a light langoustine broth. An enjoyable dish with attractive flavours, the grilled leaves providing a delicate complexity. However their intensity also made de langoustine take a back seat in this dish.

On to the fourth course, fillet of cod served with a soft and silky Jerusalem artichoke puree, little roasted apple balls, turnip balls (including one coated with spinach powder), and leek oil. There's nothing quite like a skilfully cooked piece of cod with a satisfying golden brown crust and wonderfully moist and flaky flesh, and this one was absolutely spot on. The nuttiness of the Jerusalem artichoke puree matched the delicate sweetness of the cod wonderfully, making for a rich flavour experience, balanced out nicely by the fresh sweetness of the apple. 

Fifth course and last course before dessert was chicken thigh served with white and red beetroot puree, tender sticks of red and white beetroot, and a delicious, roasted, whole baby beetroot. Also on the plate was a hibiscus foam, a rich chicken jus, and onion powder. A terrific flavour and texture pairing and I loved the choice of thigh meat (instead of the ubiquitous fillet). The chicken was well-cooked, with a lovely tender texture, although the skin had some chewy parts. However, the fantastic flavour of the meat, especially in combination with the gorgeous chicken jus and onion powder, more than made up for that.

The meal was concluded with two desserts. First up was an elegantly sweet and refreshing dessert of pear coulis, ginger ice cream, a light tapioca pudding, a delicate linseed cracker, finished with lime zest, and some olive oil from Les Baux-de-Provence. This was followed by a more luxurious dessert of coffee mousse, chocolate ganache, a Gianduja chocolate "biscuit", and a fresh and clean-tasting mandarin ice cream. Two well executed desserts, the second one striking a perfect balance between richness and freshness and had well-judged coffee flavours.

Chef Indra Carrillo is a gifted chef who knows how to treat ingredients well. Today's menu displayed a fine choice of ingredients, all skilfully cooked, allowing each ingredient its own identity on the plate. The salmon and the cod were explicitly good, two dishes prepared with attention to detail and with pure and memorable flavours. Service was attentive, including regular appearances from chef Carrillo "lui-même" to serve and explain his dishes. La Condesa was a fantastic find and the perfect antidote to the often over-hyped restaurants in Paris. This was on all accounts a very satisfying meal and at effectively €13 per course, good value too.

La Condesa
17 Rue Rodier, Paris, France

Posted 19-04-2018


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