It’s such a relief (and all too often a surprise) when the restaurant that everyone is talking about turns out to be good.
Right now that restaurant is Rino. Le Figaro immediately hearted the place like a 12 year old girl signs a love note (do kids still pass notes or do they only text?). But it was the thoughtful thumbs up from Le Lobrano, La Zimbeck, and La Flick that compelled me to call and book.
When I showed up last weekend with my date (yeah, that’s right), Rino was populated only by chef Giovanni Passerini, sommelier Pietro Russano, a cook and a half dozen diners. To be fair, the place only seats about 20 but given all the bandwidth of electronic praise I was surprised the place wasn’t packed.
Not that I minded, mind you.
I slid into the red banquette and said yes to an aperitif in spite of the fact that (or perhaps because) I’d already had a martini a little earlier. Sorry, but I am a sucker for unusual sparkling rosés from the Loire. Luckily there weren’t too many more choices to make, just whether we wanted four courses or six. Six, please.
Shortly thereafter a parade of very pretty plates began. First was a fantastic escabeche of rouget with white asparagus, deliciously seasoned — I love a good use of bread crumbs — with a few leaves of tender mâche strewn here and there. I could have made a meal of the sardine ravioli in fennel consommé that came next, and a thick, trembling cut of cod with pil pil sauce and chard finished these fine fish courses.
I should mention the wine. The list is short, interesting, and full of bargains. The most expensive was 40€ and we got it – a 1999 Valreas from Domaine de la Grande Bellane. Too much for the first few dishes (good thing we had that bubbly!), it was heavenly with the duck and roasted endive, not to mention the cheese course.
Dessert was a faux cheesecake that was light as air and heavy on the gelatin. I was more pleased by the blood orange financier served a few days later at lunch. Yes, I went back, girlfriends in tow, and as we were finishing the little cakes chef Passerini came out and asked if we might try the lemon tart he was working on. Of course we would.
“À bientôt,” he said to us on our way out, rightly confident that we would return soon.
Rino 46 rue Trousseau, Paris 75011, 01 48 06 95 85, open Tues-Saturday, website
Read my other review of Rino on Girls’ Guide to Paris.