Tucked into a tiny side street in the Marais district, Le Gaigne is a new vest-pocket address with a larger-than-life talent in the kitchen—young chef Mickaël Gaignon. Gaignon was formerly in charge at three-star chef Pierre Gagnaire’s Left Bank seafood annex Gaya, and he clearly absorbed more than a small measure of Gagnaire’s technical prowess and his devotion to first-rate products—witness the spectacular quality of the fish on Le Gaigne’s short, often-changed menu.

At a recent lunch, everyone at our table of four raved about their starters—finely sliced artichokes with tiny coques (cockles) bathed in a cool artichoke soup; a tomato-and-mozzarella terrine; a lush oxtail terrine; and a pretty plate of sautéed cherry tomatoes and zucchini slices with marinated sardines. Main courses were just as good. Perfectly cooked lamb filet came with a delicious garnish of bulgur with sautéed white grapes; roasted monkfish was served in a red-currant emulsion on razor-thin slices of romanesco (a green variety of cauliflower); sautéed merlu (hake) was garnished with snow peas and a squid brunoise that contrasted wonderfully with the delicate texture of the fish. Our superb seasonal dessert was peaches roasted with verbena and served on sablé cookies topped with almond-cream frangipane. The small wine list offers good choices by the glass and a nice selection of affordable bottles from small producers that Gaignon and his charming wife—who runs the dining room—have discovered during their travels in France. Before we ended this excellent meal, we vowed to keep this address a secret, but I doubt the other three will be able to keep their promise any better than I have—this place is terrific.

12 rue Pecquay, 4th, 01.44.59.86.72. Lunch menus €16 and €22; five-course tasting menu €39; à la carte €45. Prices are per person without wine.

Originally published in the September 2008 issue of France Today

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