Since Guillaume Delage is a very talented chef, the good news for people like me who knew and liked his cooking, both at Gaya, Pierre Gagnaire’s Left Bank fish house, and then at his own excellent bistro, Jadis, deep in the 15th arrondissement, is that he has resurfaced.
After closing his own place several months ago following a prolonged slump in business, Delage is now working at Juvia, a very popular, new and modern French restaurant in the heart of Paris. Alas, Delage’s failure to make a go of it with the widely praised Jadis offers a host of lessons for other young chefs in Paris, not the least of them being that it doesn’t matter how good your cooking is if you don’t deliver a pleasant service experience in the dining room.
Happily, at Juvia, an animated place with dangling lanterns and lots of greenery, all Delage has to do is cook, and that he does very well indeed, producing a menu that offers an intriguing snapshot of what affluent young Parisians like to eat these days. This ranges from a ‘Detox’ salad of quinoa, crab, romaine and Granny Smith apple (served both as a starter and a main dish) or another one called ‘Ole’ (piquillo pepper coulis on balls of fresh goat’s cheese posed on sliced tomato and garnished with smoked tuna) to sea bass carpaccio with gooseberries, lime and olive oil, or oysters marinated in rice vinegar and mirin.
Main courses exhibit a similar tendency towards healthy eating and contemporary comfort food. Steamed Scottish salmon comes with a courgette velouté and a grapefruit-and-Sarawak-pepper condiment, while cod, also steamed, arrives with a racy aioli sauce.
And for those weary of the ever more omnipresent hamburger or Le Tigre qui Pleure (the Crying Tiger) – another local cliché of beef carpaccio in a sauce with Thai herbs – they propose a hefty veal chop for two, or succulent lamb meatballs with Moroccan spices, aubergines, pepper coulis and brocciu cheese. The calorie-conscious crowd mostly snubs dessert, but the baba au rhum and tonka-bean flavoured panna cotta are temptations worth succumbing to.
Perfect for a casual meal, even a business lunch at noon, Juvia is equally lively in the evening, when it pulls an after-hours crowd of young professionals.
From France Today magazine