PARIS - Some addresses seem destined for constant turnover, and 72 Quai de l'Hotel de Ville on the right bank of the Seine is certainly one of them.
In the past 15 years, the spot has hosted any number of successful chefs, at least two of whom (Georges Masraff and Gilles Epie) packed their bags for America and never came back. One almost wonders whether the newest chef, David Feau, who took over the stoves last month at the Miravile, already has his papers in order for the journey across the Atlantic.
For Parisian diners' sake, one hopes that the young and boyish Feau will stay awhile, for his simple, sane, clear food is what we need more of in Paris.
classic but modern Feau's style appeals to jaded palates that want something classic with a modern touch. And while he is fresh from his chef's position at one of Guy Savoy's many Parisian bistros, his food is not just a copy of Savoy's signature cuisine. Feau might open with an offering of a mousse-like dariole, a small cylindrical mold of creamy foie gras and chicken livers, a silken, smooth and not-too-rich starter that is drizzled with a sweet caramel sauce, making your palate wonder whether it is the beginning or the end of the meal. In truth, the sweetness is appealing, and a fine contrast to the rich acidity of the foie gras.
The 250-franc ($40) menu might include a slightly bland first-course terrine of jarret de veau paired with a wonderful remoulade of red beets - slivers of beets tossed in a mayonnaise enriched with pickles, capers, onions, parsley and tarragon. The same menu offers a delightful pintadeau en crapaudine, a farm-fresh guinea hen split down the back, flattened and grilled, and served with a luxurious polenta. Other main courses include a classic roasted Bresse chicken, tender and delicious, set on a bed of pommes boulangeres, extremely thinly sliced potatoes cooked in a dark, rich stock. When his food is good it is very, very good, and truly satisfying, making one realize that simplicity is never as easy as it looks.
With it all, try the 1995 Savigny-les-Beaune, priced at 240 francs.
The bread, alas, is dreadful. The olive bread is too soft and without character, and the tough, dried rolls are an embarrassment to an otherwise successful restaurant.
Miravile, 72 Quai de l'Hotel de Ville, Paris 4; tel: 01-42-74-72-22, fax: 01-42-74-67-55. Closed Saturday lunch and Sunday. Credit cards: American Express, Visa. 250-franc menu. A la carte, 300 francs a person, including service but not wine.