Knowing of Chef Antonin Bonnet’s past experience in the kitchen’s of top-rated restaurants (L’Oustau de Baumanière), Michelin star chefs (Michel Bras) and exclusive London member clubs (Morton’s Club), you might think that his own personal venture might be a swanky affair. So it’s a refreshing surprise that his newly opened own restaurant, Quinsou (meaning Chaffinch – a small songbird – in Occitan) should be so down-to-earth and humble. The simple exposed stone, glass and wood interior of his modern bistro in the 6th arrondissement of Paris, is quietly reflective of his purist, produce-driven cuisine.
Last seen at Paris’s stylish Michelin starred Sergent Recruteur, and briefly as a consulting chef on the ambitious but now defunct La Jeune Rue project, Bonnet returns on form to stun us with his precision, bright clean flavors, and elegant pairings. Here, produce is king, and he sources his ingredients with diligence. The vegetables from the Bec Hellouin organic farm in Normandy are of exceptional quality, as was demonstrated in a superb entrée of green cabbage, tossed in an umami rich hazelnut vinaigrette and served with oeuf mollet, a soft boiled egg, here, delicately cooked to perfection.
This was followed by milk-fed lamb shoulder and liver served with a silken Jerusalem artichoke purée, yellow-stalked chard, a dusting of licorice powder to brighten the palate, and a comforting meaty jus poured over the dish at the moment of serving. We couldn’t resist the daily specials, large N°2 pleine de mer (open sea) oysters in the shell with a dashi (a Japanese fish and kelp-based stock) vinaigrette and a squeeze of sudachi, a Japanese citrus fruit. And a black truffle pasta dish that cleverly used dentelle (lace) pasta sheets with undulating edges – from Maîtres de Mon Moulin in Cucugnan – giving a texture that played beautifully with the mild crunch of the black truffle. For the 35€ price tag I would have hoped for a few shavings more, but I was won over by the addition of a ‘jus de volaille’ elegantly poured over the pasta as a supplementary sauce.
The only real disappointment in the meal was the dessert, a layered chocolate-tamarind assembly of almond biscuit and chocolate cream topped with a thin wafer, that to my palate, lacked the flavor – the tamarind was not at all present, the chocolate subdued and without interest – and refinement of the preceding dishes. The accompanying elderflower ice cream, although fragrant, lacked real personality and felt oddly out of season on a cold winter’s day.
The wine list is exceptional and our choice of the Domaine Vacheron white Sancerre, with its quiet and restrained mineral tones was a perfect match for Bonnet’s understated yet elegant cuisine.
QUINSOU | Modern French bistro | 22 rue de l’Abbé Grégoire | Paris 6 | +33 1 42 22 66 09 | Métro: Rennes ou Saint-Placide | Open Tuesday to Saturday | firstname.lastname@example.org | Lunch menus 35–48€ / Dinner menus 48–65€ | Reservations recommended.