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Porte 12 in Paris

Rating: 90.
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In September 2014, Porte 12 opened its doors on 12 Rue des Messageries in the 10th arrondissement in Paris, a space for many years occupied by Café Panique. Porte 12 is backed by Singapore chef André Chiang (Restaurant André, number 6 in the 2014 Asia's 50 Best Restaurants list) and the kitchen is overseen by his former sous-chef Vincent Crépel (30), who has also worked in the kitchens of Restaurant de l'Hôtel de Ville in Crissier, Switzerland (3 Michelin stars). Sommelier and restaurant manager is Thibault Passine, who previously also worked at Restaurant André in Singapore.

Porte 12 is open for lunch and dinner Tuesday till Saturday (no lunch on Saturdays). At lunch you can choose between a 3-course set lunch menu for €35 or a 2-course (main + dessert) menu for €28. In the evening you can go for a 5 or 6-course menu (5 courses €58, 6 courses €65). I had lunch with my husband at Porte 12 on Friday 16 October 2014 and we both had the 3-course lunch menu plus an extra dish to share.

Lunch started with some bites. Pork crackling came with an airy, ball-shaped mustard dip coated with fried garlic and there were baby potatoes filled with creamy aioli and topped with some tomato puree. A delicious start of this lunch.

My first course were slices of mildly buttery Chincard (horse mackerel), served sushi-style on slices of Ratte potato, covered with aubergine caviar lightly seasoned with coriander. Delicious Ratte potato, which is first cooked with star anise and then flash-fried on the plancha, resulting in a delicate hint of star anise and a lovely touch of smokiness. Even better were a few spoonfuls of basil puree, seasoned with toro and garnished with white fennel flowers, the latter delivering a nice hint of aniseed. A delightful dish with great textures.

This was followed by the extra course. Tender duck heart served in a dark caramelised onion jus, covered with a light and creamy potato emulsion and garnished with samphire and crisp and golden croutons. The onion jus had great depth of flavour and the samphire brought a nice freshness to the dish. An attractive dish with elegantly rich flavours.

My main course was Landes chicken, complemented by a gorgeous, concentrated chicken jus, some fregola 'risotto', a fluffy corn cream, crunchy puffed grains mixed with deep-fried garlic and a nice and sharp vinegar reduction. Also on the plate were a few dots of egg yolk (with a gel-like texture), sprinkled with toasted buckwheat. The beautifully cooked chicken was juicy and exceptionally flavoursome, and the earthy and nutty flavours of the grains and corn enhanced the chicken wonderfully. A refined dish with delicately balanced flavours, that also delivered a great journey of different textures.

Dessert was a very pleasing combination of rich and perfectly smooth chocolate ganache, served on a crunchy chocolate base and accompanied by coffee jelly, a delicious beurre noisette ice cream and few dots of lemon verbena cream.

The compact kitchen of Vincent Crépel and his small team efficiently turns out smart, concise dishes. The food I enjoyed this afternoon struck a great balance between comfort and finesse and the level of complexity in the dishes was just right; nothing was out of place. Surely you will not be surprised to hear that each and every plate on our table was wiped clean in minutes. Obviously the lunch menu of €35 for 3 courses is great value too. In the few weeks since it opened, Porte 12 has already found favour with punters, locals and tourists alike; during lunch on Friday the place was packed. Porte 12 is a restaurant to follow closely, but with only 32 covers, it will probably become increasingly difficult to secure a reservation.

Posted 12-11-2014


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