Landing at Saturne is the dark side of the moon for lovers of wines that are not natural. This is another joint where there is a whole cellar devoted to cloudy, unstable wines that have had their terroir completely obliterated (stop it Jeremy you cynical bastard). Even the mineral water here is natural.
Saturne is white hot at the moment and justifiably so. It is part of the new way of fine dining as dictated by the city’s funky young things, strip back the pomp and ceremony, leave out the expensive ingredients from the menus and provide the diner with a value for money degustation menu that can show off the creative talents of the kitchen. Even though the opulence and service of traditional ‘haut cuisine’ dining is not evident here and it is pretty well ‘chockers’ every dinner and lunch I just can’t see how the place could make money. The fit out is clean, stylish and modern, with high quality fixtures and furniture. The minimalist, Scandinavian blond timber chairs look great and are very comfortable. Service is well-drilled efficient and non-invasive and the 7 course dinner menu is a more than reasonable 60 euros.
The Berkel slicer in the corner of the dining room is a working piece of art and you just have to order a plate of jambon noir de bigorre to share before launching into the degustation. Our white wine, actually that is being a bit kind to the wine, our orange, hazy wine was a 2007 J.F Chene La Coulée d’Ambrosia L’O2 Vigne. It was aldehydic, nutty, full of dried fruits and nuts. It was an interesting wine and particularly good with the sweet, nutty ham but didn’t really work well with any of the other dishes. We did not finish the bottle…nuf said!
White asparagus was dipped in mayonnaise then rolled in cereals and finely chopped tarragon, it was very good and had an excellent inner mouth perfume. Next up oysters with beetroot and apple on some cream cheese. I am not convinced that oysters are ever improved by doing anything to them except for a little squirt of lemon after shucking and this dish did nothing to change this opinion. The next dish of raw tuna with baby radishes lightly warmed through and a sea urchin foam was outstanding.
Having tired of our white of natural goodness we ordered a 2007 Michel Guignier Beaujolais Moulin à Vent, a biodynamic producer. Perhaps the manure from the buried cow horn had influenced the wine’s aroma as it had a bit of a shitty smell. It was bright and lively in the mouth, with tart red berries and a skinsy texture. The Bojo worked well with the best course of the evening, turbot with braised endive, cauliflower and sliced fennel bulb. The turbot was magnificent, glistening white, sweet chunks of fish with a perfectly crunchy skin. The whole dish had great balance.
Our meat course was also exceptional, pigeon breast was cooked rare and lightly smoked. It was presented with the leg, with foot still attached in a confronting manner. The leg had been prepared confit and was not smoked and made a nice contrast to the breast meat. There was a roux made from maize, polenta and the blood of the bird.
Cheese was creamy faisselle with incredibly sweet and delicious strawberries and a quenelle of savoury herb called oseille. It was fresh and invigorating and a nice lead in to the final course, a dessert of chocolate, caramel and foin ( I have no idea what foin is but from what the waitress was telling us its some type of herb that animals like to eat). The dessert was rich and powerful but not heavy with great balance and proportion. Coffee looked good, they had a decent espresso machine and seemed to be taking pride in their barista duties but as it was nearly time for nighty nights we both abstained.
Saturne is pitched at the new breed of socially conscious, Prius driving, 20 and 30 something movers and shakers. This 40 something, driver of a non aerodynamic, big blocked, fossic fuel burning ‘voiture’ likes the place very much. It is in the same vain as Le Chateaubriand but not as raw, grungy or edgy.