I came back to Au Passage later that week when Elizabeth invited me to have lunch with her family before both of us are leaving Paris. I was bummed to get the invitation on the same week I already ate there so I asked if they can make it an early dinner instead. There was no problems to change it from lunch to dinner at the same day, even though we were 6 people. That was really nice. At dinner time the place changes and becomes a chic french style tapas bar.  Menu changing daily, small-medium size dishes of seasonal ingredients priced between 4-9 euro and a wine list.

We were a table of six so we asked for the entire menu, excluding the oysters and the cheese platter. Even though the specialty dish of lamb shoulder wasn’t available at that night, we had too much to eat.


Click on the picture to see the menu. We ordered almost all of it.

Starting the meal with a nice white Sancerre

The knifes on the table were small pairing knifes (couteaux d’office)

The dishes came to our table in four waves. It felt right, as if separated into different categories.

First batch: appetizers and charcuterie.

1. Buratta, poutargue
Buratta is an Italian raw milk cheese similar to mozzarella but liquid in the middle. A delight. We didn’t know what is poutargue and thought it tasted like dried tuna (bonito shavings). Turns out it’s dried preserved roe of fish.

2. Terrine maison
The house terrine, it was nice but not my favorite dish to have in a restaurant.

3. Radis et beurre d’anchois
Radishes and anchovy butter
This dish was very literal. We got radish, as is, with anchovy butter. Very strong bold flavors. Not fit for everyone.

4. Anchois de Sicile, it’s simply Sicilian anchovies with lemon. “Like in Barcelona”, someone mentioned.

5. Œuf fumé, anchois, estragon
Smoked egg, anchovies, tarragon
Another anchovy dish. And they all came together, even for an anchovy enthusiastic it was too much but a bit our fault for ordering all three dishes without noticing.

The egg dish was an original one, the saltiness of the anchovy spread worked with the un-salted egg and some crunchy bread crumbs added texture.

6. Soup froide de courgette
Cold Zucchini Soup with dill croutons and ricotta. Something was missing, it was a bit dull. All the soft flavors without contrast and I’m not crazy about dill, but it was refreshing.

First batch of dishes, too much anchovy but some interesting plates as well. my favorite was the buratta

In the meantime the tiny bar-restaurant is filled completely, crowded and very alive. The two waitresses are running around gracefully and people are queuing outside.

We could not eat all the anchovies so we asked to get started on the second batch of dishes: Sea food and tomato salad.

7. Thon rouge, radis noirs
Bluefin tuna, black radish
Was definitely one of my favorites. Amazing quality of the fresh red tuna, with creamy but tangy black radish sauce which reminded me of horseradish cream but with a twist. The seasoning with some fine red onions bits and fresh leafs, some olive oil. Divine.

At this point we got our second bottle of wine, red this time. It was a good choice but in budget.

8. Salad de tomates et croutons
Salad of tomatoes and croutons
Big pieces of red and green ripe tomatoes with chunky home-made croutons soaking oil and tomato juices, some mint and beet leaves. Very simple but fresh, seasonal dish.

9. Poulpe à la plancha
Octopus à la plancha
Big octopus leg slices, I think it was salted in some way, a bit chewy but not too much, very unique snack.

10. Bulot, pomme de terre, arroche
Sea snail, potato, Orach (red spinach)
The red spinach paste tasted like beet root. I can not say a lot more about this dish because of these sea snails..I dealt with too many of them in my “etc” internship.

Batch 2 altogether (except for the red tuna which is long gone by then), a nice batch.

On to batch 3 on our table: meat and green salads.

11. Concombre, sumac
Cucumber with sumak
This salad was beautiful, I was very pleased with it. It was sweet-tart and salty, with mint and shavings of.. bonito (maybe?) Sumak made it a little bit Mediterranean and it just worked. Another favorite of mine.

12. Tartare de boef au couteau
Beef tartar cut by knife
Another favorite, or maybe one of the best tartar I had in Paris. Big pieces of excellent meat casually put together with some seasoning and cornichons, all the condiments placed in their corner: capers, chopped herbs, an egg yolk. Some parmesan shreds over it all and piment d’espelette.

The joy of mixing the yolk

13. Pintade, haricot vert, sauce au pain
Guinea fowl, green beans, bread sauce
Another very good dish. The innovation was this bread sauce which was weird in a good way. It was like savory bread pudding but more liquidy. The guinea fowl had two different pieces, the breast and the leg. They tasted completely different which was interesting to be able to compare. I really liked the breast, pink and very gamey.

14. Salad verte et ricotta salata
Just a fresh green salad with salted ricotta. A lot of rocket and bitter leaves. It said ricotta on the menu and we could not find the ricotta anywhere. Thought it was a mistake but there was this salted aged ricotta that tasted like parmesan. Who knew? 

15. Chochon de lait, fenouil
Milk fed piglet, fennel
At that point I was so full I could just have a small bite but I can’t remember how well it was made.

And finally for the last batch of dishes, the desserts:

16. Ganache et caramel, crème de beurre noisette
Ganache and caramel, brown butter cream
Smooth, creamy, simple but flawless ganache.


17. Cerise, ricotta, betterave
Cherry, ricotta, beet
My favorite dessert of the three. Matching three elements that just happened to work together so well. The beet was represented by the beet leafs – bitter and very dominant. Cherries, fresh and soaked in syrup which is almost a salad dressing and light creamy ricotta with blanched almond bits, contrasting textures.

18. Fruits rouges, creme de feuille de figuier
Fruits rouges, creme de feuille de figuier
The third dessert was like the dessert we had for lunch but nicely put together.

All three desserts together. Wonderful ending to this meal.

Why was I so happy about this place? 

It has a good balance between simple food and great matching of unusual ingredients from all over the world, not compromising the quality of the products. How can this place keep up the good quality in these low prices? It seems that the budget is invested on the food itself instead of an extravagant decor of the place. Focusing on what’s important, while making a real buzz without the fuss. Everything is effortless but still remarkable.

And the lunch deal the next day? Taking last night’s leftovers and making an affordable “all combinations possible” menu – this is just genius! Gives a place for the chef to be creative, every day something’s new. Sometimes it’s not working out, like the first course we had at lunch, but the low pricing and overall warm and inovating experience makes you forget about the little slips in the way.

The space is small but it’s effectively occupied. Some of the storage and fridges are standing in the dinning room because the kitchen is small. Nothing is wasted, people are happy.

Elizabeth, Jacqueline and I, saying goodbye to Paris and one another.

This place is not perfect, but it’s awesome. It’s laid back, fun and teasing. Everything is well thought and a lot of talent is put into it. It’s not a place to impress or to have a serious dinner, just a place to have a casual glass of wine with friends and eat some real good food in the meanwhile. I’m thinking that if I ever to open my own place, this restaurant will probably be a better role model than some high end restaurants. Bread sauce, who would have thought!! 

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