Paris is one of the best cities in the world for exceptional food and wine combinations. In a refreshing change of pace, restaurant le Clarisse offers their tasting menus paired with sake in addition to the standard wine route. Although France’s gastronomic identity is undeniably tied to wine, who doesn’t like to opt for something original from time to time?
Tucked away in the 7th on a street busy with bar and restaurant options, le Clarisse is an elegant stop offering French-inspired fare prepared with precision and delicacy by a Japanese chef. While the restaurant itself isn’t new, the change in chefs a little over a year ago makes it well worth renewed consideration. Recently I was invited to taste test the sake-pairing menu and see what kind of revamp resulted from their association with Chef Sadaki Kajiwara.
The regularly changing menu is just the right size for my taste: four starters and five mains to choose from, each of which comes with a recommended wine or sake pairing and can be ordered a la carte or as part of a prix fixe menu. Restaurant director, wine connoisseur and in house sake expert, Jean-Philippe Pluvinet, is on hand to personally walk guests through the beverage pairings.
Pluvinet is responsible for each wine or sake match and does them with aplomb. Thanks to his expertise, I learned that sake is not just a pitcher of harsh warm hooch served up alongside sushi and noodles – instead each sake can (and should!) be a delicate drink with its own personality. Amateurs will be pleasantly surprised by Le Clarisse’s range of junmai shu sakes that are not as strong as you might have been led to believe if you’ve had inferior sakes in the past.
My light and subtle vegetable ravioli starter was matched with the equally light Honryukarakuchi. My main, wild boar with pureed chestnuts, pomegranates and wasabi emulsion, came with the Kaze no mori, which had more oomph and a slight Poire William finish. My dining partner started with the Carpaccio of Dublin bay prawns paired with Kokuryu followed by the red tuna in puff pastry and the Daissai 23 with its delicate floral aromas. While I like to diverge from the norm, I rarely stray too far from the cheese plate. I finished with one and even got a sake that complimented the different cheeses quite nicely. By the time the meal finished, I had a new appreciation of the range of sake on offer and the way each pairing played off the dish’s flavors.
The combination of good French food and good French wine is a beautiful thing. It’s one of the best aspects of living in Paris. But sometimes it takes an outsider to bring a fresh perspective to familiar things. And sometimes a slight twist is just the ticket to shake up the familiar enough to make it interesting again. These two things are exactly what make le Clarisse worth a visit.
29, rue Surcouf, 75007
Métro: Invalides, La Tour-Maubourg
Open: Mon-Fri, open for dinner on Sat as well
- Le Telegraphe is another eatery worth checking out in the 7th
- Alexander Lobrano checks out Verjus and still loves it – the buttermilk fried chicken is “superb!”
- If you’re in the mood for non-frenchy fare, Blend is worth the trip for a great Paris burger