Ever since a food-loving counter clerk in my local post office first tipped me off to chef William Ledeuil’s cooking, just after the Left Bank restaurant Les Bouquinistes had opened some twenty years ago, I’ve been a huge fan of this charming, humble man’s cooking. Why? Because, eschewing the local tides of gastronomic fashion and the chest-beating self- promotion of many Parisian chefs, he’s been quite content to stay put in his home kitchen – which is now at Ze Kitchen Galerie, where he moved to from Les Bouquinistes – and cook ever more interesting, original and distinguished food.
So when I learned he’d opened a new pasta restaurant on a quiet stretch of the boulevard Saint-Germain, I immediately picked up the phone and booked. Arriving on a warm night, the pavement tables were full and the iron-framed French doors at the front of this good-looking restaurant had been folded open to let in a breeze. The dining room was a spare, attractive space with contemporary lighting fixtures, modern art and steel chairs and tables.
We were just settling in when Ledeuil stopped by our table to greet us and explain the genesis of his new place, his third Left Bank restaurant since he left Les Bouquinistes to open the excellent and very popular Ze Kitchen Galerie, which was later followed by
the more casual Ze Kitchen Galerie Bis, aka KGB.
“One of my suppliers, Michel Bachès, who supplies me with citrus fruit from his farm in Eus near Perpignan, introduced me to Roland Feuillas, the famous miller and baker in nearby Cucugnan,” the chef explained. “I was intrigued by Roland’s work, since he bakes with flour that he makes himself by stone-grinding organically grown, heirloom breeds of grain. He’s famous for his bread, but he also makes pasta, and when I tried it I had the idea of opening a pasta restaurant where all of the pasta would be made from his flour,” says Ledeuil, who added that the new pastas have the particularity of being able to absorb the Asian-inspired sauces and broths that are his gastronomic signature.
From the short menu, we started with the excellent gazpacho and a serving of hand-chopped steak tartare garnished with sobrassada, a soft pork sausage from Mallorca. Both were excellent, but it was the pasta that was truly exceptional – one called Dentelle de Cucugnan (Cucugnan lace) with cuttlefish, tomato, galangal and lemon; the other coquillettes (little shells), which came in an aromatic Thai bouillon redolent with fresh herbs. Desserts are simple but satisfying, including pandanus-flavoured coconut milk soup with raspberry coulis, or gianduja chocolate with coffee and miso.
Kitchen Ter(re), 26 boulevard Saint-Germain, Paris 5th. Tel. +33 (0)1 42 39 47 48. Average €45. www.zekitchengalerie.fr