dinner at Passage 53, Paris
The restaurant is tiny, white and cream, reverent in feeling without being gothic. If it's 16 feet wide, that's a lot. To my thinking, the prohibition on indoor smoking is what makes it possible for places like this to survive. No merry closing dinners, no bus tours, no shouting drinkers comparing exchange rates! thank you, juddering Euro.
We sat back and smiled while staff explained that there's one menu, many courses, tiny to small portions. OK, I'm in. After a glass of champagne, some tiny drinky nibbles, and a small cup of creamy pumpkin velouté that actually tasted like pumpkin but also tasted good (the expresso foam on top helped, I'm sure), things got serious: a single perfect oyster on very light smoked haddock mousseline, airy almond foam topped with caviar. Would I have thought of this? No. Did I love it? Mmm-hmm.
Then what everyone calls "the white course:" tiny seared calamari on a bed of almond and cauliflower cream with seared baby calamari and shaved flakes of raw cauliflower. It's subtle, in fact, I've heard that some people haven't been able to taste anything of this dish, but we loved it. These may have been the best calamari of a lifetime, including those served by friends of ours in New Jersey. Another fish course: a small filet of baby cod in a frothy broth with radishes.
Desserts - yes, that's a plural. I was immobilized. My best love was a "deconstructed" Mont Blanc, airy chestnut mousse with a touch of - cinnamon? ginger? too subtle, plus chunks of meringue, served in a verrine (double old-fashioned glass).
I'm sure that wasn't me making slurpy noises, the place is not so small that you hear what's being said at other tables but we all know how the sound of slurps travels. I'm sure I've left out some of the small stuff like palate cleansers, refreshers and pre- and post desserts.