Come dine with me: Dessance, Paris

It’s been a long time since I’ve done a blog post on a restaurant, but for Dessance, I’ll make an exception. With so many exceptional restaurants in Paris, I always recommend that friends treat themselves to at least one very special meal while visiting (if not more!). When I had the opportunity to be in Paris in March 2023, I decided that Dessance would be my choice.

I’ve eaten here twice before but not for at least seven years. While I could have went in search of one of the new restaurants mentioned in food guides and blogs, I decided that if Dessance was as good as it was, I’d be happy to return AND it wasn’t hard at all to make a reservation (unlike at other hotspots). I did have one moment of hesitation, wondering whether it would be awkward to be eating alone.

But I’m happy to report that Dessance is as good as I remembered. I had a spectacular meal. The service was perfect and charming. They allowed me to try to practice my French and only for a few words did I need to ask for a translation.

The menus on offer are an ‘earth & sea’ six-course tasting menu (EUR 72) or the vegetarian menu (EUR 64) and of course, I did the matching wines (EUR 39) with four glasses.  I also couldn’t resist the cheese course (EUR 15). And I would consider the amuse-bouches at the start of the meal and the petit fours at the end courses in themselves, they were so beautiful.

The restaurant itself is very beautiful. I should have taken a few photos. It’s quite small but with the mirrored wall at the back, I always think it’s bigger than it is. There are a few tables upstairs in a sort of alcove above the kitchen, and downstairs, there’s a lovely open sense of space with a super-high ceiling. It feels elegant but not stiff.

I loved all of the dishes. Looking at the photos now, they appear less beautiful than they were. The element of surprise and playfulness doesn’t come through as I often didn’t know what was in the dish until I tried it or it was explained to me. For example, this, I believe, was the pollack covered in a clementine sabayon. I’m a little embarrassed that I’m not completely sure. My note-taking on my iPhone was of mediocre quality. The larger photo above was lobster carpaccio, with an orange croustillant, a crisp, which was typical of the food here, almost always a textural element added, like roasted buckwheat or quinoa.

I always find it hard to keep track of the wine during a tasting menu like this, but I liked them all. For example, with the smoked eel, with beetroot, dill and horseradish foam (The dish at the very top of the page), I received a glass of orange wine from French Catalonia. With the cheese plate with Bleu d’Auvergne, Brillat-Savarin and Saint Nectaire (oh my god, the cheese in France!), I was served a sweet wine.

This dish of cod with dill and a broccolini tapioca was such an interesting combination of textures. And very delicious.

Something I found completely delightful (as I have at a few other restaurants) was the opportunity to watch the chefs at work during the whole meal. They move around each other in a graceful dance, and you can see how the dishes are assembled, and the expertise and artistry involved. Finally, the desserts. Rather than a rich and decadent dessert, say involving chocolate, I found it an interesting choice to serve such light desserts focused on fruit. The kiwi, aloe vera, sorrel and green pepper sorbet was refreshing and surprising. A soup of sorts!

And then a chestnut cream with tangy grapefruit and pomelo. Yup. It was very, very yummy.

I realised at the end of the meal that there was no problem at all with dining alone. I was fully engaged in tasting and enjoying each dish, sometimes closing my eyes and focusing on what was in my mouth! I enjoyed just soaking in the atmosphere and the experience, and counting myself so lucky to be able to eat such a wonderful meal at a wonderful restaurant in Paris.

The next time you’re there, I recommend you try Dessance. They’re at 74 Rue des Archives – 75003 Paris, and you can visit their website here.

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