Tannat is a red wine grape, historically grown in South West France in the Madiran AOC, and is now one of the most prominent grapes in Uruguay, where it is considered the "national grape".
Okay, I admit I didn't know what tannat meant until I looked it up, so maybe it's not such a great thing to name your restaurant after a food item that one has to google, but if you want to be a culinary snob, you have to do some work. And as part of my work, I also learned that Tannat's home on 119 avenue Parmentier was for 20 years the site of "the fiery and gourmet cabaret evenings at Chez Raymonde," according to the Le Fooding website. And just to clarify, Tannat is not a Uruguayan restaurant, but a place to find - oh, what the hell, Le Fooding was on a roll, "colorful neo-bistronomic creations from Olivier Le Corre (Tour d’Argent, Bristol, 52 Faubourg)."
Co. and I checked out Tannat on a Friday evening in mid-May and found an airy, brightly-lit, mirrored room centered by a bar where one can perhaps find a seat without a reservation. Already this is pretty unique, because when I think of the typical Parisian neobistrot, the words 'airy' and 'brightly-lit' rarely come to mind. Those adjectives are also appropriate to describe the colorful, elegantly prepared dishes, some of which were more successful than others, but what else is new?
One of my few gripes about Tannat is that everything is ala carte. I can't remember the last time I ate in Paris without some sort of 'menu' deal offered. In fact, more and more I am drawn to establishments with fixed menus - the tyranny of the carte as some critics claim. But from my vantage point, I'd prefer to let the chef decide what is best, but you are free to differ. To each one's own. But if you like choice - albeit limited - you'll like Tannat. So let's get down to business - the business of food. Here's what the carte looked like during our visit:
|What's on the menu? Click on it to find out.|
Another something you don't see very often in Parisian neobistrots is a selection of dishes to share at the start. Be forewarned, though, the plates at Tannat are copious enough without taking one of the 'partager' dishes - I was pretty much stuffed early into my main plate - but as a reviewer, I felt obliged, with Co's hesitant blessing, to go with the radis et tandoori butter. This was just okay - the butters were blander than I expected - something I probably would have enjoyed more to embellish some cocktails. The thinly sliced bettrave was an interesting ingredient, however.
|Radishes, beet, and tandoori butter for sharing|
And the very satisfying entrees:
|Pain perdu, asperge vert, moelle, gremolata for Co. - what is gremolata you ask? I'll tell you. It's a chopped herb condiment with lemon zest, garlic, and parsley|
|Although tempted by the beets and herring dish, I selected this one - artichokes, coques, and sable parmesan|
The main plates:
|For Co., the beef, gambas, and navet unique melange. Hard to see the thinly sliced beef, but its there.|
|Killer presentation for the strawberry, rhubarb, and white chocolate dish|
|A chocolate dessert fit for a Marquise - not as rich as it looks, which made it even better|
We accompanied our meal with a rapidly disappearing Coteaux du Languedoc Argentier (27 euros), bringing our bill, sans cafe, to 114 euros. I liked Tannat a lot more than I thought I would, especially in retrospect. I'm looking forward to seeing how the carte varies in the future, which isn't the wittiest way to end this post, but it will have to do.
119 avenue Parmentier
tel. 09 53 86 38 61
Note: Apparently you can overcome my fixed-price formula nit pick at lunch with a 15 euro two-dish meal, which sounds like a pretty good deal. You can also take a nice little walk to the Canal St Martin after your dinner, which Co and I did - on this particular evening the streets were packed, the canal lined on both sides with YOUTH, and the intersection of Petit Cambodge and Le Carillon was happily animated, six months after tragedy struck.
|The canal - a short walk from Tannat|