To be honest, eating at Le Galopin was a bit of a leap of faith initially. I had heard positive things, but its location on Place Saint Marthe (a great neighborhood, but far from my usual stomping grounds) and its link to television (the chef-owner is the 2010 Top Chef France winner Romain Tischenko) made me slightly skeptical.
However, willing to make sacrifices in the name of discovering delicious new things to eat, I went. And I was glad I did. In fact, I was so glad, that I found myself returning recently for my second dinner.
Place Saint Marthe in the 10th arrondissement is actually a bustling square, off the most well trodden parts of the Parisian dining grid, but clearly not unknown. Le Galopin occupies an open, airy space, and with the simple wooden chairs and bistro tables, the overall feel is casual. Even the menu (a seven course preset menu) arrives handwritten on a plain sheet of paper without much fanfare, and unless I was hallucinating, the waiter was in jeans. I informed the waiter that I do not eat chicken…or duck…or birds in general. As is typically the reaction in France, I caught a slight look of dismay/bewilderment, but it was fleeting – the waiter seemed happy to offer an alternative. And so we were off.
Two small amuse-bouches arrived in sequence to start, the first a very citrusy ceviche with daikon, and the second an excellent brandade with poivron. The brandade were dangerously good – I would have been happy to eat a pan full of those and nothing else.
It was at that point that my bird-free menu started to diverge from my companion’s…while she was served the beef tartare, I was served a really good burrata with asparagus and other spring vegetables and spiked with citrus.
A white tuna followed for both of us, with a shellfish broth. The tuna was excellent, but so far the flavors throughout the first courses were all quite acidic, and we agreed we were ready for something…not. As if on cue, the waiter brought the main course, which was chicken with artichokes and other fresh vegetables (or for me, the exact same dish but with beef instead of chicken).
That was the point at which I realized how impressive Le Galopin actually was. Too frequently, when the restaurant switches out a course on a set menu, they simply switch it out – trade a chicken dish for a beef.
However the chef in this case adjusted the menu twice: once by giving me the burrata instead of the beef tartare earlier on, so that I didn’t end up with two beef courses (which would have thrown his menu out of balance), and once by varying the main course. If I didn’t already know I was in thoughtful hands, I knew it then.
Desserts followed, and they are listed simply as triple flavors. On this night, the “chestnut, raspberry, lemon” dessert was refreshing, but followed by an intriguing “corn, cocoa, coffee” trio that didn’t quite work — I liked the idea (the corn in this case was popcorn, and it was dusted with a coarse cocoa crumble and some coffee crème), but I wanted a stronger sweet–salty contrast from that kind of combination, and I didn’t get it.
Romain Tischenko’s restaurant on the whole was inventive and high quality, and very reasonably priced. It’s the kind of neighborhood place you want to have on your block, though judging by the number of people making the out-of-the-way trip, it’s also the kind of place worth seeking out.
34 Rue Sainte-Marthe, 75010
Tel: +33 1 42 06 05 03
Open: Tuesday: 19h30 – 22h30. Wednesday, Thursday, Friday: 12h15 – 14h et 19h30 – 22h30. Saturday: 19h30 – 23h
Written by Krista Stein for the HiP Paris Blog. All photos by Didier Gauducheau. Looking for a fabulous vacation rental in Paris, London, Provence, or Tuscany? Check out Haven in Paris.