I just returned from a meal at Saturne (Oct 3, 2011) and enjoyed it much less than I did the wine bar Au Passage, where I ate on the 1st, & Hidden Kitchen, where I ate yesterday. Reviews of both of those great places to follow. The worst aspect of my meal at Saturne was grit in my mushrooms in a dish that also included foie shavings, parsley, and egg yolk. When I told the waitress, she was apologetic and had the kitchen prepare me another, which was grit-free, and she and another waiter apologized later on in the meal, but nothing else was done to make up for the unpleasant experience - no comped wine, no extra dessert, nothing. It was only the 3rd dish and left grit in my mouth for quite a while. I'm a New Yorker who's been living in London for 3 years and have been to Paris a few times but have never had to complain in a Paris restaurant before, and rarely in NY or London - could someone more experienced with dining in France tell me if Saturne's reaction is standard for Paris?
Also, I found the flavors of the food in general too subtle for me. Maybe I got a less-tested menu, or maybe just a less exciting one - it sounds that way from reading about other hounds' experiences - but for me it was bland and often mushy, with servings being oversized.
The meal started with tuna, radish, and a clover-like herb called oxalys (wood sorrel), which was nice from the bitterness but rather one-note. The beet, fresh goat cheese, and wild fig dish that followed was pleasant, with a nice sweetness to the beet balanced by the cheese and salt, although the fig was shaved too thin and got lost. The next dish was the gritty mushrooms. Then a pollock with rutabaga and black olives sauce, which contributed a nice salt, and the texture of the fish was lovely with the rutabaga having a complex vegetal flavor with hints of broccoli stem. Then pigeon with potato and pear - tasty, but not enough pear or potato to balance the meat. Then a lovely picodon, a dry goat cheese, with honeycomb. Then "oiselle framboise," or sorrel sorbet on a bed of ricotta with raspberry paper and raspberries - nice, but forgettable. Then a bowl of what was basically chocolate pudding with "foin" - hay? on top.
None of these dishes were memorable or could compare with anything at Hidden Kitchen or Au Passage, where small dishes are 8 Euro a plate and the service is low-key and friendlier. I was also disappointed that instead of 2 menus to choose from at 39 Euro and 59 Euro, there was just a 60 Euro menu.
We had 2 nice wines, a Quartz 2009 de Claude Courtois (sauvignon) and Eponna 2009 des Griottes (chenin). Maybe if we were more into wine we would have appreciated Saturne more. I'm not saying don't go, but if you are into bolder flavors, and I am, take their local sourcing policy into consideration! It is admirable, but it means few spices. This works for me at The Ledbury, my favorite restaurant in London, which has dishes like celeriac baked in ash, but not here.
Your comments would be appreciated! More reviews to follow.
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