Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Moderately gaga for Gaya

I don't necessarily object to being called a restaurant whore. I love dining out. I keep up on restaurants. And when I go to a party, I’m happiest when the conversation turns to food and restaurants and who’s been where and what everybody’s best meals have been. I love it all. So to be living in Paris, where you can have incredible experiences like the one Michael and I had at Le Grand Vefour a few months back is pretty perfect.

But that lunch at Le Grand Vefour set the bar pretty high. We’ve been inspired to indulge in a grand dejeuner every month or two and recently set our sights on Gaya Rive Gauche, Pierre Gagnaire’s modern fish bistro. We went on a nice and balmy June Friday (yes, we’ve had one or two of those), which was perfect for the restaurant’s aesthetic. Metallic “fish scales” along one wall, periwinkle chairs that contrasted against grey carpeting, and a crisp, bright, organic feeling all around that made me happy I was wearing my mariner stripes. After we ordered a carafe of chilled Valfalunes Blanc, I was happier still.

Bread and butter and olive oil and sea salt (how often do you get one or the other, much less both in this town?!)...

...served in charming and appropriate containers—along with amuses bouches that included a gorgeous octopus salad which we speared and sparred with toothpicks—accompanied us as we read through the menu. But it was nontraditionally, and, to us, incoherently, organized into groupings such as “Unusual” and “Modest Tide” rather than “Entrées” and “Plats”, so we had to ask for guidance. But if the menu’s structure was confusing, at least the food was obviously delicious.

Building on the bread I had already demolished, I started heavy on the carbs: with ravioles printanières. Hidden beneath lots of green veggies—broccoli, snap peas, zucchini—I told myself it was as nutritious as a salad.

(At least it was healthier than Michael’s pork terrine. Well, maybe.)

For my main plate, I got the pavé de cabillaud (which was, I think, filed under “The Essentials” on the menu), deliciously and decadently poached in god knows how much butter and served with a julienned salad of carrots, apple and seaweed.

Michael’s poisson was an enormous filet of féra, a white fish from Switzerland.

Being loathe to leave without dessert, no matter how much our bellies protested, we decided to split dessert. Behold…

...a beautiful chocolate praliné cake, served atop rhubarb and accompanied by salted caramel ice cream a few hazelnuts.

By now, we were lounging and lazy and had befriended our neighbors, two lovely women from LA who were vacationing and, with their tales of dining, shopping and French Open viewing, clearly living the high life. By chatting with them, we stretched lunch to three hours—which gave us enough time to also demolish the petit fours—mint macarons, mini strawberry financiers and caramelized sesame brittle—delivered with coffee.

We were utterly filled to the gills. (Oui! Je blague en francais!)


  1. What a great idea to try wonderful restaurants on a monthly basis. It makes for an interesting post so all of us can be there with you. Next time I'm in Paris, I would love to try that restaurant.

  2. Wonderful ...
    The combination of carrots, apple and seaweed on fish sounds delicious.. well, actually most of it sounds delicious ..
    We should start doing this here, although here means who makes the best steak and we don't eat steak .. yeah, 2 non-meat eaters move to Argenina!
    I want a petit four with my morning coffee now :(

  3. Your meal looks scrumptious! Just a comment on usage of "plein" when one means to say "full." That is indeed a literal translation, but when it comes to one's stomach, saying "je suis pleine" in France might be taken as "I'm pregnant," and actually "être pleine" is used to talk about pregnant animals, not people. You have several ways to convey the idea of being full, saying for example "j'ai trop mangé," je suis rassasié(e)," or "je n'en peux plus." I've heard that French Canadians do use "plein" as meaning "full" in referring to people, but I don't know whether that's true or not.