Japanese chef Taku Sekine, formerly of Clown Bar, and Sherry Butt alum bartender Amaury Guyot have teamed up to open their first restaurant in the Bastille neighborhood, Dersou. Situated smack in the middle of an area lacking in fine dining – between the Marais and Bistrot Paul Bert territory – Dersou is a welcome addition to the neighborhood.
The owners of the restaurant wisely decided to open early (9am) and leave the porte ouverte almost all day, save a brief late-afternoon pause. Tired shoppers, area employees, and intrepid tourists now have a place to rest their weary feet and enjoy a cup of coffee, thoughtful food, or even a much-needed cocktail.
A day at Dersou starts with a breakfast of something like granola and porridge paired with coffee from Caffè Cataldi, which isn’t locally roasted, but is probably better than anything you’ll find along the chain-store-lined Faubourg St Antoine.
A reasonably priced lunch is ordered à la carte from a menu offering more small plates than mains and a limited wine list made up of natural wine options. We enjoyed a dry white from the Languedoc region, which had a nice minerality and notes of apricot, perfect for a vegetable-focused mid-day meal.
The first dinner service at Dersou must be reserved and consists of a five-course 90€ tasting menu, each course paired with a cocktail. After 9:30pm, diners are welcome to order off the menu and pair their own choice of cocktails with a selection of small plates.
As far as the space, Dersou is both remarkable and unassuming. The interior of the restaurant is airy and open; a distressed concrete wall is left undecorated and plays with the sleek wooden bar, tables, and trays that meals are served on. Not going overboard with any of Paris’ current restaurant design trends (Scandinavian, Industrial, Brooklyn), Dersou humbly announces its presence as a result, but not a reproduction of, its environment.
The menu, however, seems to still be seeking its identity. The lunch options included a Japanese curry and a shell bean ragout along with spaghetti all’arrabbiata, making for a collection of what seemed like unlikely bedfellows. My lunch date ordered the pasta with the thought that it, like many of the other menu items, would have some sort of Asian-inspired twist. It didn’t.
The multiple personalities of the menu are reflected in the flatware that accompanies it; meals are served in pretty, but basic tin dishes that look ready for a camping trip, though they come delivered on Japanese-style wooden trays. Each tray is equipped with a fork, soup spoon, and chopsticks: the rock, paper, scissors equivalent of modern dining.
While Dersou’s culinary influence or niche may not yet be clear, I did enjoy my ragout made with fresh shell beans and lightly cooked vegetables along with a side of cauliflower dhal. Vegetarians will be happy to find more than one option on the menu for them, and late night diners will be reassured that they can eat out in this neighborhood without being obliged to endure overly lit bistros or the pulsing music and awful cocktails of the area’s lively nightclub scene.
Dersou – 21 rue Saint Nicolas, 75012. Tel: +33 (0)9 81 01 12 73. Open 9am-4:30pm, 7:30pm-1am.
- Looking for a quaint coffee address in Paris? Emily also checks out CREAM.
- The Bastille area has gotten a bad rap in the recent past, by the NY Times says it’s recuperating its cool.
- Head a bit further into the 12ème arrondissement towards Nation and check out these addresses from Lisa.