Sébastien Gravé and David Bottreau are quite a duo. With Les Fables de la Fontaine, they’ve created a one-of-a-kind fish restaurant with a true personality. And you’ll feel as though you’ve hit the jackpot if you arrive on a warm, sunny day and dine on the compact terrace facing the fountain on Rue Saint-Dominique. (Though it would be nice if they could hide the garbage cans.) Thanks to Gravé’s Basque heritage, the menu is slanted towards specialities of France’s southwest, including a ttoro, or Basque fish soup. Here it arrives in its classic form -- several varieities of fish and shellfish in a wine-based sauce, garnished with a spicy mayonnaise -- as well as a modern gelée version.
All manner of fish and shellfish are featured, from oysters and langoustines, to smoked eel, cod, turbot, sole, and maigre, a seasbass-like fish from the Atlantic. A starter of red tuna tartare was my kind of fare, with the wasabi-seasoned fish set on a soothing bed of avocado puree and topped with a delicate, bright-flavored mousse of kaffir lime (photo). Modern, refreshing, satisfying. The maigre was perfectly seared à la plancha and teamed up with seasonal white beans from Paimpol to the north, tossed with a touch of pesto from the south, and a Basque touch in the name of tender baby squid, or chipirons.My neighbor’s turbot – simply seared – looked fabulous, and I’ll be sure to seek that out on my next visit. Weekday lunches are well-priced, with a 30-euro special, that includes a glass of wine. With our terrace lunch we enjoyed Leon Beyer’s always dependable, bone-dry Riesling Les Ecaillers. The 2004 vintage could age for many more years, but we were happy to capture it now, with overtones of peach and lime, a perfect match for offerings on the Les Fables de la Fontaine menu. Note that the restaurant is open daily, and in August. I am eager to try their newest restaurant, Pottoka, a tiny, Basque-inspired quick-bite place around the corner at 4, rue de l'Exposition (Tel +33 1 45 51 88 38). Here, meat is the featured theme.
LES FABLES DE LA FONTAINE, 131, rue Saint Dominique, Paris 7.
Tel: +33 1 44 18 37 55. Métro: Ecole Militaire, La Tour Maubourg. Open daily 12:30 to 2:30 pm and 7:30 to 10:30 pm. Open in August. Weekday lunch menus at 30 and 35 euros with a glass of wine. Tasting menu at 90 euros. A la carte, 65 to 80 euros, not including wine. http://lesfablesdelafontaine.net