The location is unlikely—the slightly melancholy Quartier de l’Europe, a grid of streets behind the Gare Saint Lazare named for major European cities—but Mexican-born chef Beatriz Gonzalez’s new restaurant Neva Cuisine has become a hit destination thanks to her superb contemporary French cooking. Gonzalez most recently worked with chef Frédéric Robert at La Grande Cascade (as did her partner, pastry chef Yannick Tranchant) and her cooking is vivid, sincere and very original. Wittily named for the Russian river that flows through Saint Petersburg—the restaurant is at the corner of the rue de Saint Petersbourg and the rue de Berne—the Neva occupies the former premises of a 1930s-vintage café, and it’s airy, spacious and pleasant.
Meeting a friend for lunch, I was immediately impressed by the warm welcome and the attentive service, and interested to see that it had quickly won a suit-and-tie clientele at noon, essential trade for any ambitious new table. As soon as our first courses arrived, I knew why these business types were flocking here, too. My ravioli were filled with crunchy chunks of shrimp and finely chopped ginger and came in a tangy sauce decorated with razor-fine slices of baby beet—altogether light, bright and delicious. My friend delighted in a delicate but deeply flavorful fresh pea soup, made with ham-bone bouillon and garnished with an organic egg yolk and a slice of toasted baguette with finely sliced baby onions and crumbled bacon. The main courses were just as good: fresh cod steak demi-sel was cooked to a perfect pearly-opaque tenderness, served with gently smoky eggplant caviar; and succulent monkfish was surrounded by girolle mushrooms and homemade gnocchi in a lemony sauce. We shared a beautifully made meringue-napped lemon tart for dessert.
2 rue de Berne, 8th, 01.45.22.18.91. Fixed price menus €29 and €36, à la carte €55.
Prices are approximate, per person, without wine.
Originally published in the October 2011 issue of France Today