Strong Alert Flavors From The New Chef At Fulgurances L'Adresse

The concept of Fulgurances l’Adresse is unique. Open since October, 2015, this 11th arrondissement restaurant changes chefs every six months, spotlighting sous-chefs who have worked in well-known establishments, and who are eager to strike out on their own. The six-month stint gives them a chance to spread their wings, show what they can do, create a personal culinary style, and become known to the dining public.

The latest hire is Vietnamese Chef Céline Pham, who at age 29 already has an impressive resumé:  A graduate of Ferrandi, Paris’s foremost culinary school, she has worked side-by-side prominent chefs such as William Ledeuil of Ze Kitchen Galerie, Sven Chartier of Saturne, and Bertrand Grébaut of Septime.

Pham’s cuisine offers very strong, alert flavors, and a well-conceived updated interpretation of French food, with an Asian accent. Nothing here seems superfluous or the offering of a self-absorbed chef. Take her version of the ultimate French ingredient, foie gras, which she cures herself, then deftly tops with a delicate miso sauce and a vibrant citrus confit. Surprising as well as satisfying. Ubiquitous Italian burrata cheese is transformed into something new with the addition of toasted grains of buckwheat and a colorful, pungent blend of tiny Asian greens. Monkfish is successfully paired with asparagus and pomelos; (a grapefruit variety); rare-cooked duck breast teams up with miniature cobs of corn, spiced with a ginger mayonnaise. Her version of the signature Vietnamese beef and noodle soup – pho – is indeed unique. Not a soup at all, she combines tender slices of beef with noodles she has soaked in a blend of Asian spices, infusing them with traditional flavors yet making it a dish all her own.

The only flaw I found was her first-course dish of squid served with tétragone (summer spinach) and salicorne (edible seaweed). The squid was just too tough to enjoy, a problem all of us cooks face and fight from time to time.

Dessert was a dream: Basil sorbet, a bergamot orange curd, and a feather-light citrus cake of fabulous, crunchy meringues.

Although on previous visits I have had disappointments with their selection of “natural” wines, we hit it big twice with two excellent biodynamic choices this time: the Loire Valley white, 2015 Muscadet (100% melon de Bourgogne grapes) from Domaine de l’Ecu, with its nose of citrus and white flowers, an easy, instantly drinkable wine; and a Languedoc red, the 2015 Corbières Campagnès (100% carignan grapes from 100-year-old vines) from winemaker Maxime Mignon. The winemaker is following the current European trend of aging wines in clay amphoras, as opposed to wood or stainless steel, a practice that dates from antiquity. The modern practice began about 20 years ago in Italy and has spread as an experiment  throughout Europe, with the argument that the clay allows for flavors that favor a greater purity of the fruit, an expression of the soil, as well as reducing the need to add sulphur to the wines.

My only regret is that when I left the restaurant late at night, there was not time to run into my kitchen to try out some of Pham’s creations. To be continued, for sure!

Fulgurances l’Adresse   |   10 rue Alexandre Dumas   |   Paris 11   |   Tel: +33 1 09 81 09 33 32    |   Métro: Rue des Boulets   |   Open Wednesday to Saturday lunch and dinner   |   |   19€ and 24€ lunch menus, 46€ and 58€ dinner menus   |   Reservations essential.

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