When a friend who lives in the charming Marais district of Paris told me about a new all-desserts restaurant that had opened near her flat, I pictured a menu of tarts, cakes, eclairs and other pastries. So it was an intriguing surprise to try this place on a recent Sunday afternoon – shrewdly judging the rhythms of this part of the city, they’re open from 11am to midnight and serve non-stop.
Located in a handsome 17th-century mansion in the hip northern end of the neighbourhood, Dessance had nothing to do with my sugar-laden expectations, but instead turned out to be a unique and rather daring restaurant where the short menu blurs the usual divisions between sweet and savoury.
Owner Philippe Baranes recruited a top notch pastry cook to execute his idea. Chef Christophe Boucher most recently worked at the storied Grand Véfour, and the Pavillon Ledoyen before that, so he was able to deploy impressive technical skills to create a menu of borderline dishes. Eschewing too much sugar, butter and cream, he works with vegetables, fruit and fresh herbs to invent such unusual but appealing dishes as a composition of quince, oranges and clementines with a sangria granité or a nervy dish of baked apple on a bed of purple Vitelotte potato purée with marjoram ice.
The best way to discover this experience is to order the tasting menu, which begins with the least sugared dishes and concludes with a beautifully made omelette Norvégienne, a meringue-topped, ice cream-filled biscuit that’s flamed with whisky at the table.
Dessance, 74 Rue des Archives, 75003 Paris. Tel: +33 1 42 77 23 52. Closed Monday and Tuesday. Average meal €40.
Based in Paris, restaurant columnist Alexander Lobrano has published a new book, Hungry for France, along with a new edition of his popular Hungry for Paris. Find these books and more in our bookstore.
Originally published in the April-May 2014 issue of France Today