Small Bites readers: This is Arthur Bratone, owner of Bistro Rollin in Pelham, reporting on his culinary trip to Paris this week.
Well, now we are hitting our stride! Paul is back and chomping at the bit (literally!) But, before I describe our second day, I have to digress to the original title for this trip (by way of full disclosure – not my idea!) which was – “12 Parisian Bistros in 6 Days- Can it be Done?” We have only been here two and a half days but we (or at least I) have the answer, and it is a resounding NO! At least not by me. This does not mean we are not hitting some great eateries, but twice a day is tough, very tough.
Yesterday, we had lunch at Saturne, a new bistro in the financial district, that had received a wonderful write up in the Sunday NY Times a few weeks ago, It is under the direction of Chef Sven Chartier, all of 23 years old! Our hopes are high again after our fabulous dinner at Le Régalade the night before… and we are not disappointed! We had another outstanding meal by a young man who would barely be out of college if he had gone that route. (Thank goodness, he chose cooking instead)
Once again, we introduced ourselves as the owners and chef of restaurant in New York, and explained where Pelham was. (Sometimes necessary even for people from Westchester!) and were warmly welcomed and told that “their home was our home.” Pretty nice way to start a meal. And, what meal! Anybody who claims that the French have lost their culinary way, is clearly not paying attention.
The menu at Saturne is extremely brief, at least at lunch. Three choices each of apps, mains and dessert. I apologize for not having a copy of the menu, we simply forgot to ask for one or to photograph it. We were too wrapped up in the food! But, as a result of the small menu between the three of us, we were able to sample everything!
Paul started with a Scallop Soup with Seafood Custard and Fresh Herbs:
Chef had a plate of paper thin slices of Spanish Ballota Ham, sliced in front of us on a beautiful had cranked slicer:
More gorgeous photos — and the chef — after the jump.
and I had a extraordinary salad of Charred Scallions, Cockles, and Wild Foraged Greens with a light Foam Dressing.
Wow! Every dish was superb, with surprises coupled with absolute freshness and quality of ingredients, under the guidance of real talent. The Scallop Soup had the wonderfully flavored seafood custard at the bottom, so as you dipped you spoon into the soup you picked up the custard from the bottom! The ham was just that – perfect in its simplicity, with chunks of their wonderful bread. My salad was again creative and delicious. Lightly charred baby scallions, tiny cockles out of their shells, and unidentifiable but wonderfully fresh and perfectly seasoned herbs.
We had asked for a wine recommendation and our waiter (no sommeliers in these places) recommended a red from Languedoc that I had never heard of, called “Promise” from the Domaine Fontedicto, that was fantastic. A perfect balance of fruit and structure, with a clarity that reminded us of the food we were eating. It is primarily Grenache and Syrah, with some Carignan.
Don’t know if it is available in the States but if it is you will find it on Bistro Rollin’s wine list!
For main courses, I had the Merlu ( a white meat delicate fish reminiscent of a sole) with a sublime white sauce of what ingredients I do not know, but I do know it was great and perfect with the fish. Served with lightly braised onions, and accompanied by baby red lettuce.
It was Paul’s turn to try a Roasted Suckling pig and this time we were in the right place for it. Moist and flavorful, served with a deconstructed Boudin Noir (Blood Sausage) that had been taken out of the casing and puréed and smeared across the plate to mix with the pork. A root vegetable quenelle the color of pumpkin and locally sourced field greens.
Chef Pintard, which is a Guinea Hen, Roasted to perfection, the skin crisp, and the meat moist and full of intense natural flavor. It was served with the same garnish as Paul’s Suckling Pig.
Dessert was herb ice creams, by this time were in conversation with the chef and I neglected to get pictures of the desserts, but they were two varieties offered. One a bright green that our best guess was sorrel, and the other might have been yams. They were beautiful to look at and refreshing and delicious. Ah, yes, I forgot we did order some cheese before dessert and it came in an unusual format. A thinly sliced pile of perfect Comté cheese, which when eaten with the house made bread was excellent.
The just about perfect meal from a 24 year old chef. Innovative, perfectly balanced locally sourced. Chef Chartier explained the difficulty of sourcing local ingredients in the winter. He said even the fish he buys directly from dayboats was hard to find because of the very tough winter they had been having. He is in the process of developing his own farm in Brittany and hopes to be sourcing a lot of his ingredients from there next year.
A delightful young man with an equally young and totally pleasant young and professional staff.
A great experience in every way. Highly, highly recommended!!