L’Hédoniste: My worst kept secret
This is the kind of address I really don’t want to give away. Something inside me wants to be a good person, of course. But then, something else warns me just not to do it. “You’ll regret it bitterly”, says the voice inside of me, and I bet I will. One day I will call and will not get a table because the place, which still is a hidden gem right now, will be so very, very hype. But what can I do? I’m a good person and so mad about Paris, that I have to tell you everything I know about it.
L’Hédoniste is a small bistro hiding on Rue Leopold Bellan in the very busy Montorgueil neighbourhood. The owner, Arthur Petillault, one day, decided to reinvent himself restaurateur and opened this place beginning 2011. Thank God he did!
If accidentally you pass by one day, just have a look on the face of the people leaving the restaurant after a usual weekday lunch: They’re all looking happy, somehow bewitched – and you’ll understand why L’Hédoniste is the kind of address you only share with good friends. It’s foodies’ heaven: delicious, not too expensive and not yet hyped.
L’Hédoniste is one of those neo-bistros that are making a lot of noise in Paris lately. Think Frenchie, think Septime, think Saturne. Strangely, there is not a lot of buzz around l’Hedoniste. But read my lips, this might change very quickly.
All about cuisine
Is it not as good as Frenchie, for example, where it’s easier to go to hell than to reserve a table? No. Not at all. Is it more expensive? Not even. It’s about the same category. The menu at Frenchie comes at 45 Euros. Same at L’Hedoniste where, at lunch, you find much cheaper formulas. (19 € for starter/entrée or entrée/dessert).
What’s the difference then, you might wonder? Well, it could be the somehow uncool décor. Or the fact that the chef, Sébastien Dubrulle, doesn’t look as if he’s paid for his stylish look, but for his cooking. And that’s what it is all about, right? “Tout est dans l’assiette” the French say, all that counts is what you have on your plate.
Dubrulle’s style is in the neo-bistro-tradition: using only local and seasonal food, but high quality ingredients, and – in that case – giving them an Asian twist. In other words: it’s delicious, satisfying and inventive. It’s comfort food, yes, but with delightful little surprises that make all the difference.
I had the other day, when I had the pleasure to be invited: a butternut pumpkin puree with porcini and nuts: a just amazing, festive perfume of fall on the palate. I loved it. Then came the cod with sesame crust, leek and bites of beef, a delight, washed down with white wine, a Mâcon-Prissé from Nicolas Rousset. I said wine? Well, they are naturally natural here, made with minimal chemical intervention, if they are not organic right away.
Instead of a dessert I preferred having a short chat with Sébastien, the chef, who passed through places like Le Jardin des sens in Montpellier (the Pourcel brothers), Hélène Darroze, and lately Cantina Mundo in Bagnolet and Pere Lapin in Suresnes. Sébastien is an extremly nice guy, who loves to browse trough the books in specialized culinary libraries, who loves to discover what his like-minded colleagues are doing, but he’s just too modest to show of. “Anyhow”, he says, “food is about sensations. It has nothing to do with the intellect.” Right. No more words to loose, just go and tell me what you think.
14, rue Léopold Bellan
Tel. +33 (0)1 40 26 87 33
Photo: © L'Hédoniste, MAP
Sébastien: a master chef without showing off