Auguste, no thanks!

Auguste Cannelloni

Gaël Orieux is certainly one of the darling Parisian chefs of the moment, with press and accolades all over. He’s been on my “to try” list for a few years and I finally found a moment to take a seat at his table. I am excited that he introduced me to MrGoodfish, an incredible European program working to promote sustainable fish and shellfish. Take a look at their website I only wish that a recent lunch had lived up to the chef’s fanfare and reputation.

Though the welcome at Auguste is warm and service impeccable, what happened in the kitchen and on the plate was simply not convincing. A first course celery root “cannelloni”  stuffed generously with crab meat, set  in a brilliant  green  coriander puree, adorned with a line of pungent tomato sauce and flanked with smooth, moist slices of Italian charcuterie was delicious (photo) and I plan to recreate it at home. But there seemed to be something amiss in the strange main course of sea bass that was limp, almost shredded and resmbling no sea bass I know. The sad and tasteless fish was set in a mushy bed of pumpkin puree and simply left me without an appetite. Another first course combination of oysters,  horseradish, and andouille also seemed terribly misguided and without a clear direction. For a man who makes claims to pristine, fresh fish and shellifsh, he simply did not deliver.  The brief wine list is excellent and I have no complaints about the golden, close to perfect Vougeot 1er cru 2007 we sampled, decently priced at 75 euros. But all in all, too expensive and not enough “wow” to make me want to return.

Auguste, 54, rue de Bourgogne, Paris 7. Tel : +33 1 45 51 81 09. Closed Saturday and Sunday. 35-euro lunch menu. A la carte, about 100 euros per person, not including wine.