Another Saint-Germain opening today, with Alain Dutournier’s all-modern, red, grey, white, and black Southwestern-accented Pinxo, his second in the city. Pronounced “pinch-oh,” the word comes from the Aquitaine region of France’s Southwest and signifies “pinching something from someone else’s plate.” Here, Dutournier offers a tempting trio of three significant bites of each dish, focusing on all the finest ingredients of the region: baby squid, or chipirions; foie gras; local ham: beef from Chalosse;, brebis sheep’s milk cheese from Gabas; plenty of piment d’Espelette to perk up any dish; as well as the famed tourtière Landaise (a local strudel-like dessert filled with apples or prunes) and here served with a prune ice cream.The food is streamlined and beautiful, with a well-seasoned variation of the Vietnamese spring roll, tasty pieces of crab and vegetables wrapped carefully in rice paper, a lovely starter (or meal on its own) with crunch and character (photo). The sautéed gambas topped with a fiery green curry were set on a bed of fragrant, perfectly cooked rice, laced with a touch of coconut milk (photo). A third choice, an unusual mix of baby squid and piquillos peppers, tiny macaroni, strips of fried ginger and thin chips of garlic, was pleasant enough, but lacked spark. A sprinkling of ground piment d’Espelette (at each table, along with salt and pepper) helped boost the flavor. Overall, I found the food could have come with a bit more punch, brighter flavors, more focus. But I’ll be back, loving the idea that I could stop in a 4 in the afternoon for a serving of grilled bread and smoked salmon paired with an avocado mousse, or a simple tartine, or open-face sandwich of tomato and aged ham.
PINXO SAINT GERMAIN, 82 rue Mazarine, Paris 6. Tel: +33 1 43 54 02 11.Métro: Mabillon. Open daily noon to midnight.
Dinner: A la carte 10-45 €
The original Pinxo is at 9 rue Alger, Paris 1. Tel: +33 1 40 20 72 00. Open Monday-Saturday. Closed Saturday lunch and Sunday.