Mini Palais: A Grand Slam

MiniPalais Tomato Trio
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Consider this: a Paris restaurant with a welcoming outdoor terrace, open non-stop seven days a week from 10 am to midnight, service that’s polite (if a bit slow) and food that is utterly modern, fresh and seasonal. I’d call it Grand Slam, and though the restaurant’s true name is MiniPalais, located in the historic Grand Palais Museum. While the alluring, vast black and grey indoor dining room is designed to invoke an artist’s atelier, the outdoor terrace is one of the city’s most inviting dining spaces. Outfitted with sturdy wicker-style chairs and banquettes, colorful mosaics on the floor and walls , giant stone columns,  potted palms, pale linens, and pure white Bernadaud china, this has become one of my favorite spots for enjoying the city’s elegance and infrequent sunshine.

Consultant Eric Fréchon (Michelin three-star chef of le Bristol) put in place Stéphane d’Aboville who seems to be doing a fine job of creating a menu that’s up to date, original and appealing (though I did want to run into the kitchen and take the salt mill from his hands.) I adored, and can’t wait to copy his tomato trio: a colorful green tomato tartare topped with a red tomato sorbet, and set in a pool of yellow tomato broth (photo). This dish was seasoned perfectly, and embellished with a paper-thin slice of toast topped with slivers of fresh garlic and pungent fresh thyme. Another fine starter that I’ll make again and again is his thin strips of creamy burrata cheese topped with thin slices of ham,  showered with fresh basil, toasted pine nuts, and sun-dried tomatoes. Line-caught merlan, or whiting,  was topped with a thick, brilliant coating of toasted, ground almonds, but a piece of Saint Pierre, or John Dory set on a bed of delicious eggplant puree was almost inedibly salty.. The meal began with a gigantic, and delicious gougeres made with aged Comté cheese,  accompanied by sips of Olivier Merlin’s magical Chardonnay, a wine that’s intense and mineral-rich. The most popular dish here seems to be the gorgeous steak tartare, paired with golden fries peeking out of a crisp white cup.  I’ll be sure to sample that on my next visit. Take a look at their web site for the schedule of live musical concerts, mostly jazz piano, many evenings at 8 pm.

MiniPalais, Avenue Winston Churchill, Paris 8. Telephone +33 1 42 56 42 42. Open daily 10 am to midnight. 28-euro lunch menu, dinner a la carte, 45 euros. Snack menus for morning, afternoon, late night. www.minipalais.comresa@minipalais.com