French Restaurant Review: Comice, Paris

French Restaurant Review: Comice, Paris

Memorable but not overly expensive, elegant but not pompous, Comice in the 16th arrondissement of Paris, is the perfect restaurant to go to for a special occasion.

To usher in the summer on a delicious note, I’m delighted to share the address I reflexively offer friends when they ask for a suggestion for a special-occasion meal in Paris. This question is often framed by two caveats – the meal should be memorably excellent but not insanely expensive, and the atmosphere should be elegant but not stuffy. My suggestion is Comice, a delightful Michelin one-star restaurant in the 16th arrondissement. Everyone I’ve ever sent here has become enamoured of this lovely postage-stamp-sized place, and following a dinner here with two gastronomic celebrities, American food writer and editor Ruth Reichl and Los Angeles restaurateur Nancy Silverton, both now name it as a top favourite among Paris restaurants.

I had the remarkable good fortune to go to lunch at Comice shortly after it opened in September 2017 with a friend from Los Angeles who was visiting Paris. On arrival, we were both immediately charmed by Canadian Etheliya Hananova, sommelier and co-owner with her Canadian husband, chef Noam Gedalof. This is because she’s warm, witty, gracious and exceptionally well-organised, which enables her to run the intimate dining room like an orchestra conductor (it should also be added that her knowledge of wine is exceptional which allows for intriguingly original food and wine pairings). Gedalof’s luminous contemporary French cooking completely seduced us as well, and we left the table feeling elated.


The necessity of keeping up with all of the new restaurant openings in Paris and the rest of France means I don’t have the pleasure of revisiting old favourites as often as I’d like. I made a very happy exception for Comice last December to have dinner with a university friend (from my long-ago year and a half of studying in London) who was in Paris on a business trip.

I was late that evening, which worried me not at all, since James was delightedly chatting about wine with Hananova when I pushed back the heavy velvet draught-breaking curtains at the front door. “She has a remarkable knowledge of wine, and she’s so humble about it,” he said. “The wine list is superb, too.” Since Comice serves a prix-fixe menu, there are no choices to make here most of the time. But then Hananova announced the seasonal main courses: butter-poached French lobster risotto carried a supplement of €44, or €76 with a dollop of Petrossian Royal Ossetra Caviar. The lobster could also be ordered on its own; and the other seasonal dish was dry-aged beef rib eye.

I knew instantly that I’d have to have the risotto. Gedalof has an almost ethereal talent with pasta and rice dishes, and this one promised a potent pleasure that might fall somewhere on the spectrum of the opium-induced fever dreams depicted in Pre-Raphaelite paintings by the likes of Edward Burne-Jones. It would be an extravagance, but a bracing one for someone whose default setting of habitual thrift is an inexorable legacy of a New England upbringing.


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Having decided to go over the falls at this meal, I told James that he was in charge of the wine, and we should drink well-we opted for the food. and wine pairing, which I always recommend here. What followed was one of my best meals of 2023. After a soothing shot of deeply earthy cep soup as an amuse-gueule, we began with a delicate composition of scallop carpaccio with shaved fennel and several types of citrus, a dish that was light, fresh and refreshing.

“Maybe it’s the season,” said James, “but this dish reminds me of the Nutcracker Suite – it’s so festive and sincere.” Next up, carrots that slow roasting had sublimated into a dish that was umami-rich and carnal in taste and texture.

“How fascinating,” said James. “Normally I loathe carrots, but these are sort of sexy, really.” I wasn’t sure about assigning leggy glamour to an innocent root vegetable, but either way, they were delicious. If I’ve already partially tipped my hand when it comes to the risotto, nothing prepared me for the perfectly poached and very tender tail of lobster and plump knob of claw meat flanking a glossy black spoonful of caviar atop a tidy mound of risotto glossed with the single best beurre blanc (sauce made with butter, shallots, white wine and herbs) I’ve ever eaten. It was silken and spritely with a faint edge of acidity that brought out the sweetness in the flesh of the crustacean and underlined the richness of the stock used to make the perfectly al dente rice.

I couldn’t quite imagine how the caviar would play out in this composition but its sensually slippery and softly grainy texture and unguent salinity mingled magnificently with the lobster, rice and sauce. It was quite simply one of the most delicious things I’ve ever eaten.

James was pretty dumbstruck, too, which is why we skipped the cheese course and were less appreciative of the beautiful dessert – a mixed citrus tart with quince ice cream than we might normally have been.
“That was just…” James sputtered on the pavement while we were waiting for our Ubers after dinner. I knew what he was trying to say, so I’ve said it for him right here.

Comice, 31 Avenue de Versailles, 16th arrondissement, Paris,

Tel. (33) 01 42 15 55 70,,

prix-fixe €120

From France Today Magazine


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Alexander Lobrano grew up in Connecticut, and lived in Boston, New York and London before moving to Paris, his home today, in 1986. He was European Correspondent for Gourmet magazine from 1999 until its closing, and has written about food and travel for Saveur, Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Guardian, Travel & Leisure, Departures, Conde Nast Traveler, and many other publications in the United States and the United Kingdom. He is the author of HUNGRY FOR PARIS, 2nd Edition (Random House, 4/2014), HUNGRY FOR FRANCE (Rizzoli, 4/2014), and MY PLACE AT THE TABLE, newly published in June 2021.

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