Manger - a relatively new neobistro in the 11th on a quiet portion of rue Keller near Bastille. Yes, 'Manger' is both the name of the restaurant and what you do there (aka: eat). Design-wise, Manger is a looker. Open kitchen, vast space, large skylight, elegantly geometical lines and blacks and beiges. I liked this place right off the bat - casual, hip staff, large black and white portraits of the four chefs who participate in the 57€ 'diner des chefs' fixed menu in the evenings and themed lunches according to the day.
If you don't opt for the fixed price menu, you have some interesting alternatives, including a raw bar selection - red tuna, marinated salmon or beef) and dim sum (wok vaporized options). The special 'diner' is composed of four courses, each conceived by a different chef.
After a tasty mise-en-bouche of colin spread on small toasts, the 'diner' commenced.
SALADE NIÇOISE À MA FAÇONChef: YVES CAMDEBORDE - COMPTOIR DU RELAIS SAINT-GERMAIN, PARIS VI
This was more of a thick soup than a salad, accompanied with a dark brioche and mango ice - superb.
CHIPIRONS, JUS DE CRESSON, NAVETS, POIREAUXCHRISTIAN ETCHEBEST - CANTINE DU TROQUET, PARIS XIV ET XV
Nothing too ostentatious here, but an amazing combination - damn excellent.
Number 3, number 3:
POITRINE DE COCHON FERMIER MOELLEUSE DE CHEZ OSPITAL
LA COUENNE CROUSTILLANTE, PETITS POIS À LA FRANÇAISE
BRUNO DOUCET - LA RÉGALADE, PARIS XIV
Yours truly had the alternative (bottom) for this course, eschewing pig the way I am apt to do - in lieu of the cochon, I had Canette laquee aux epices a risotto d'epeautre, orange/ tandoori. Co. relished her cochon and I couldn't deny the alternative (available on the ala carte menu, 25€) was impressive - that risotto, I need more.
And for dessert:
ÉCLAIR FRAISE PISTACHE MENTHE
Eclairs aren't really my thing, but this one was well conceived. It would have been nice to follow this up with a second dish, which is becoming modus operandi for dessert in other neobistrots around town.
Ah, yes, the dish that never came. It might have been chocolate, it might have been something else. But for some reason, I went into Manger thinking 5 chefs, 5 plates, and although the meal was excellent, at 57€, both Co. and I concluded that a 5th dish would have been appropriate. Something was missing. A couple patisseries at the end would have done the job.
Nonetheless, I should add that Executive chef William Pradeleix, who worked with the renowned Hélène Darroze at the Connaught in London, has his apron in the right place. A portion of the bill is relegated as a social contribution to the city's program for culinary training for unemployed Parisians.
To counterbalance the price, Manger has a more than reasonable wine list with several good inexpensive bottles to choose from. I chose a St. Nicolas Bourgueil, as I am wont to do, and wasn't disappointed, especially at a mere 28€ for the bottle. Total bill for two: 142€.
A year ago, the Conde Nast Traveler website dubbed Manger "the best new restaurant in Paris." I wouldn't go that far, but it's definitely worth a visit.
24, rue Keller
tel: 01 43 38 69 15