Mlle. She Travels Restaurant Review: Pantagruel
Pantagruel, on Rue du Sentier in the 2nd Arrondissement, opened in 2020, and received a Michelin Star in 2021, which is impressive given that the restaurant is Chef Jason Gouzy’s first. Pantagruel’s menu is made to look like a book, which given the name of the restaurant, is no surprise. Chef Jason Gouzy and his kitchen staff are the writers, and the front of the house are the Storytellers. The menu is divided into six chapters, with a prologue and a conclusion.
On sitting down with a prime view of the kitchen, I was offered a glass of champagne that would accompany the prologue (i.e. the amuse-bouches). Each serving in the prologue is very small, and my storyteller told me which order to eat them in. I cannot recall what the first one was, but the second was an egg tart, and the third a very crispy pastry smothered in finely grated cheese with a sauce. Each piece of the prologue was unique and flavorful and made me excited to dig into the chapters.
While I was still enjoying my glass of champagne, the first wine pairing was brought out. It was Maison Bonnard Fils’ Romananche Chardonnay from Savoie. Only 1,000 bottles of this wine are made each year, as it is a wine made from the two best barrels of the estate from the oldest vines. I really enjoyed this wine, with its white fruits, hazelnuts, and salinity, and unsurprisingly, have been unable to find it in the United States.
Each chapter generally has three main ingredients and then these ingredients are presented in three different ways. Chapter I consisted of smoked artichoke, whelk, and green curry. The first dish of the three focused on the artichoke heart as the star of the dish (smoked and fried), with a green curry sauce, with whelk underneath crispy fried artichoke bits. The second dish contained all three elements in a deconstructed tart. The third and final dish of Chapter I was a fried parcel, almost like a samosa.
The second wine pairing was the 2016 L’Argile, which is a white wine from Colliure produced by Domaine de La Rectorie. Colliure is an AOC located near the Spanish border on the Mediterranean coast in the Pyrénées-Orientales department. The wine smells of white fruits with a hint of aniseed. The taste is fresh, with an underlying minerality that makes it pair well with Chapter II.
Chapter II’s ingredients were spider crab, cumin, and fennel. The first dish of the three was served in the shell of the spider crab, and was a smooth, savory, mousse surrounded by a crab bisque emulsion with fresh herbs. The tastes and textures of this dish were outstanding, and the presentation took it over the top. The second dish was a single crab ravioli. The third and final dish of Chapter 2 was a vol au vent with a crab salad in it. While the second and third dishes were excellent, they paled in comparison to the mousse with crab bisque emulsion. That dish was sheer perfection.
The third wine pairing was a rosé from Martin Texier. The 2019 Le Preyna is an organic wine made from grapes from an old parcel planted with 75% cinsault and 25% grenache.
For Chapter III, there was a choice between monkfish tails from Loctudy, green asparagus, and Montbéliard sausage or lobster from Brittany, rhubarb, spring onions, and shiso leaf. While I like monkfish, I could not resist the lobster, even though there was a supplemental charge. Like the other courses, this course comes in three dishes. The first dish was what the restaurant calls croqu’homard. It is very hard to describe exactly what this is, so I am not going to attempt to. However, it was scrumptious. The second dish was lobster tail with rhubarb. The third and final dish was a shiso leaf with lobster inside.
The fourth wine pairing was a Malvosie from Cellier de la Baraterie in Savoie. It was another natural wine and another white, which is very unusual to serve with the meat course, but it worked quite well.
Chapter IV’s ingredients were brass lamb from Auvergne, green beans and sea beans, and clams. The first dish was a beautiful cut of lamb topped with edible flowers and a clam in au jus. The presentation of this dish was beautiful (the pictures do not do it justice), and I absolutely adored the plate itself (made by Montgolfier Porcelain in Limoges). The second dish was a dish made of green and sea beans in an almost jelly. The dish was visually stunning, but admittedly this was not to my personal taste as sea beans are too salty for me. The third and final dish was a fried morsel made with clams, similar to a clam croquette.
The fifth wine pairing was champagne with a Cocteau quote on the label. The “Rien n’est plus sérieux que le plaisir” Champagne has remained a mystery. Per the back label, the Vigneron is Christophe Martin, but I have been unable to find this champagne anywhere. Feel free to reach out to me if you have more particulars about this bottle. I do remember I really enjoyed this champagne!
Chapter V is pre-dessert and was ice cream in a handmade cone. The pistachio ice cream was creamy without being too sweet, which was refreshing.
Chapter VI was tiramisu spirit and caramelized almonds and came in the form of a beautiful tiramisu-esque dessert, a gorgeous ice cream, and a little cake ball decorated with edible flowers.
The last wine, a 10-year cuvée spéciale Mas Amiel from Languedoc-Roussillon, was poured. This is a dessert wine with red fruit flavors up front and a finish of black tea, licorice root, and baking spices. It went well with the bites that were served as a part of the Conclusion.
At Pantagruel, the last course is the Conclusion. This is wheeled out on a cart on which sits a large globe that opens. Inside the globe are multiple delectable bits that are then plated and served to each diner. It is definitely a bit theatrical, and I was all about it. As one does, I also ordered a double espresso as well.
I thoroughly enjoyed my meal at Pantagruel, and I would recommend it to anyone who was headed to Paris and looking for a great experience. The cost of my meal in May 2022 came in at 218 euros, which included a glass of champagne to start, bottled water, and a coffee to end the meal. Currently, per the Pantagruel website, the dinner menu plus wine pairing would clock in at 230 euros without any of the extras I had. So while there is an increase in price, which is to be expected given global inflation, overall it is not that significant.