After hitting it big with his wine bar Racines, then taking a year off, Pierre Jancou is back with another winner, the tiny Vivant, in a lively part of the 10th arrondissement. The long, narrow room began its life around 1900 as a shop that sold pet birds, as the lovely ceramic murals attest. As at his former establishment, Jancou is all about ingredients. So we have the incomparable boudin noir from Christian Parra, the moist, meaty duck from Challans in France’s southwest, lovely Italian burrata and equally amazing smoked mozzarella. This is a wintry, meaty sort of place but not necessarily heavy. An autumn meal here linked summer and fall, with an entire burrata (that irresistible mozzarella filled with rich, tangy cream) bathed in a puddle of delicious olive oil, seasoned with coarse salt, pepper, herbs, and a tiny garden of last-of-season cherry tomatoes. We ushered in fall with another hit: crunchy polenta topped with wild pleurote (oyster) mushrooms and a meltingly rich round of smoked mozzarella that humoursly resembled a giant mushroom cap (photo). A main course of Challans duck – moist, tender, meaty – was set upon a golden bed of mashed potatoes with the crunch of coarse salt and thin slices of red onion. An equally succulent cochon de lait was served with an ochre square of polenta, soft and creamy inside, crunchy on the outside. All was escorted by a glass or two of the lively Cotes du Rhone Village red, Pur, and golden crisp baguettes from Le Grenier a Pain nearby.
VIVANT, 43 rue des Petites Ecuries, Paris 10. Tel: +33 1 42 46 43 55. Métro: Bonne Nouvelle. Open: Monday-Friday. Closed Saturday and Sunday.8-14 euros for starters, 14-24 for mains. Wines from 6 euro a glass. Reservations recommended.