Culinary creativity and quality ingredients are the main players in Maxime Boutier’s cuisine served in his first restaurant in Paris
This stylish new bistro de luxe in a former textile factory is a delicious example of how the Paris restaurant scene is happily thriving again after the Covid lockdowns.
Young chef Maxime Bouttier named his first restaurant Géosmine, which means ‘odour of the soil’, as in a freshly ploughed field, and this earthy moniker stands in a sort of puckish contrast to Bouttier’s sharply honed technical skills and finely calibrated culinary imagination.
Meeting a Turkish expat publisher pal here for lunch, we both immediately loved the white-painted interior of this duplex restaurant and its tables made from roughly textured, dark brown recycled wood, a perfect backdrop for Bouttier’s appealingly earthy but very elegant cooking.
I already knew Bouttier’s cooking from Mensae, a very good bistro in the Belleville district of Paris, but the rigour and precision of his cooking here revealed his true gastronomic personality, a sort of high-wire tension between his funky love of the finest French seasonal produce and cooking it without sublimating its natural tastes and texture. If we devoured his crunchy golden balls of potently porcine rillettes, a nod at his native Sarthe region of France where they’re a speciality, I was astonished by two simpler but no less ingenious preparations. In Bouttier’s version of artichokes barigoule (braised in white wine and herbs), the little globes were wrapped in fine ribbons of lardo di colonnata, the cured pork backfat from Tuscany, which added texture and a rich basting of suave pork fat to the vegetable; while wild asparagus from the Sarthe was served atop a vivid pool of pistachio cream under a tangle of peppery chickweed. Both preparations also displayed Bouttier’s reverential love of vegetables.
The meat of the matter at our lunch was an impeccably cooked sirloin that came to the table under a bonnet of wilted treviso, accompanied by what the menu dubbed a ‘sauce barbecue’. Suffice to say, this smoky, beautifully balanced, umami-rich condiment had absolutely nothing to do with the sweet, sticky American-style sauces sold by supermarkets to ruin good meat on backyard barbecue grills. This was an haute cuisine barbecue sauce, and after sampling it, I doubt I could ever go near the bottled stuff again, even when cooking a lazy summer supper of back ribs, because Bouttier’s version revealed just how good these flavours can be when they come from quality produce and are carefully balanced into a single gastronomic entity. My friend shuddered when I pointed out that the menu also offered another dish rarely seen in Paris: mamelle. “Oh, Alec, you wouldn’t, would you?” he said when I told him what it was.
Well, since Bouttier’s preparation of cow’s udder is served with cream, caviar and seaweed, chances are I’ll succumb to my curiosity on a future visit to Géosmine.
But in the meantime, we ended our excellent meal with a delicious, freshly-baked cake of chocolate, vanilla, praline, and fleur de sel, which came to the table still warm.
Bouttier’s a rising star among the new generation of French chefs, so now is the time to discover his outstanding cooking at this very charming restaurant.
71 Rue de la Folie Méricourt, 11th arrondissement,
Paris. Tel. (33) 09 78 80 48 59
Dinner prix-fixe menus €109, €139; lunch à la carte €70.
From France Today Magazine
Lead photo credit : © DELPHINE CONSTANTINI
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