David Toutain

davidtoutain-17Nowadays, to understant or interpret the work of a contemporary cook, it’s necessary to do some time traveling, know his roots, education and philosophy, and know where he wants to put his cuisine. It’s the case of René Redzepi of NomaAlex Atala of D.O.M or Massimo Bottura of the Osteria Francescana (current nº1 of the guide World’s 50 Best Restaurants), just to name a few. Concerning French cuisine, and opposite to the death/forgetfulness sentence that many drew to it, there’s a new generation of talents hard to match, noticeable in the last season of the famous Chef’s Table, from Netflix.

In this chapter, one of the chefs I was most curious about was the young David Toutain, born in a Normandy agricultural field, who trained alongside names like Marc Veyrat, Alain Passard, Bernard Pacaud, Pierre Gagnaire or Andoni Aduriz, and who first took Paris by assult when assuming a kitchen at Agapé Substance, conquering the Parisian and all the critics with the breath of fresh air he brought to the city and its gastronomical scene.

davidtoutain-18In the start of December, 2013, David Toutain opened in his name, and very close to the Eiffel Tower, a space reflecting his passion and calling, a minimalist restaurant, where the use of wood and sober tones prevails, in a clear reference to what will happen throuhghtout the meal.

davidtoutain-15Already installed, we receive the indication of the menu to be served that night – the restaurant works with unique tasting menus on a daily basis, allowing the client to choose only the number of dishes or the harmonization with wines – while we are asked the usual questions about allergies or ingredients we don’t like. After that, starts a feast of small snacks that show quite well we’re in a serious restaurant where technical rigor and produce quality are kings.

davidtoutainCalf Carpaccio, clover and hazelnut dust 

davidtoutain-2Smoked beetroot, red onion and blackberries 

All the snacks had an execution rigor well above average and the flavors were starting to prepare us for some unexpected combinations and oddly brilliant, like some that followed. Highlight to the Smoked beetroot, with blackberries and red onion, in two textures, mousse and crunch, and the Crunchy Pork foot, with nuts and mushroom cream – surprising.

davidtoutain-3Crunchy Pork foot, with nuts and mushroom cream

As in any good French table, there’s always room and time for bread and butter. First with an excellent butter emulsion and a great Brioche; and after with a classic butter and a surprising sourdough bread, and corn bread. Still at the “entrance” and I was already conquered by this degustation.

davidtoutain-4Brioche and butter emulsion 

davidtoutain-5Egg Yolk, corn cream, cumin caramel and chives 

This is one of Toutain’s classics – a sinful combination of textures and greasy, conforting flavors, elevated by the freshness of the chives and the sweet and spicy notes of the caramel. Very good!

davidtoutain-6Tomato, strawberry, green almond, tomato water, basil dust and ikura 

With tomato on its peak, this dish gained other proportions. First it shows the importance of the times the chef spent with Alain Passard and also his passion for vegetables and seasonal cuisine. Secondly it shows a sensitivity and a capacity of praise – light, fresh, elegant, with a texture contrast and a great balance of sweet, acidic, sour and salty. A great dish, probably the best tomato dish I ever had!

davidtoutain-7Cuttlefish, hazelnut, fermented soy emulsion 
Another deceptively simple dish, of a refined elegance masked of subtlety. The cuttlefish cut like a Tagliatelle, in a proposal that transports us to a “sea carbonara”, in which the fermented soy adds notes to the dish and the hazelnut makes a great contrast of Earth and Sea. Delicious!

davidtoutain-8Codfish, zucchini and verbena 
Fresh cod, cooked with rigor, in a good and light combination with zucchini in two textures and the fresh emulsion of verbena. A good dish, yet not as surprising as the latter.

davidtoutain-9Smoked eel, black sesame cream and  granny smith apple
If the previous dish had a classical approach, this one brings back an all new scene. Flawless eel in texture and the amount of smoked notes, well included with the thick and greasy sesame cream in a combo refreshed by the green apple on the bottom of the plate. Another combination hard to forget.

davidtoutain-10Duck, chanterelles, apricot and quinoa
Once again, great cooking points, in a classic combo, where the sweet element is replaced by the apricot, the earth notes with the mushrooms, the texture with the carrot, the freshness of the onion petal and to finish, a delicious sauce, where you want to dip bread until you can’t get anymore. Comforting and satisfactory!

davidtoutain-11Cauliflower, white chocolate, coconut and vanilla 
This pre dessert is another Toutain classic, and one of the most unusual combinations. We are invited to discover the “out of the box” element of the combination, some might think is some kind of cheese, others a root, but it’s actually caulifower, combined with coconut milk, white chocolate and vanilla, two textures and temperatures – cream and ice cream. A singular moment, making us have another vision of the cauliflower. Surprising!

davidtoutain-12Raw milk and Madagascar honey 
The secret of mastering simplicity is one of the best attributes in Toutain’s cuisine, here the combination of milk and honey textures, with highlight to the thin crunchy layers of milk, of another level.

davidtoutain-13Apple and muesli
I like cereal, dried fruits, berries and seeds, so I also like muesli, a good way to start the day, here served to finish one of the best meals of 2016. Amazing muesli, nicely paired with the thin splinters and full of apple flavor (lightly dehidrated).

davidtoutain-14petit fours

To finish there was still space to the usual petit fours, to the level of the reception, excellent mochi (Japanese sweet), macaron in the shape of a stone and some sinful chocolate truffles.

The Service works flawlessly, without formalisms and the pressure of the haute cuisine, but with rigor and hit, also revealing good knowledge about the dishes and their components. We harmonized our meal with a Vouvray Sec 2014 from Domaine du Clos Naudin, a interesting Chenin blanc from the Loire region, which freshness and acidity contrasted nicely with its more concentrated side, making it a good company to this tasting.

davidtoutain-16Graham’s Tawny 30 anos

To finish was also time to thank the chef David Toutain for the amazing experience he gave us that night in Paris, and nothing like rewarding him with some of the best Portugal has to offer, with the beautiful Tawny 30 years of Graham’s that traveled with us to Paris.

Final Remarks
The cuisine of Toutain reflects well his training and exemplary student skills, his technique, his passion for vegetables and the respect for seasonality and its peak, or his particular interest in flavor combinations and unusual textures. The dishes are the reflection of a life, a story and much work, and in the end that’s what stimulates us when we visit a fine dining restaurant, knowing the true identity of a cook and understanding how it reflects in its work. Toutain could be a famous celebrity of the French gastronomy, fully booked and exploring teams and clients, however, he lives for the job, his place is next to the stove, and the dishes reflect that happiness!

One of the best quality/price ratios and clearly one of the most exciting chefs in Paris, and it’ll certainly leave its mark in the next generation of the French cuisine.

A mandatory restaurant!

David Toutain
+33 1 45 50 11 10
Rua Surcouf, 29  – Paris

Versão Portuguesa

 Text: João Oliveira | Photos: Flavors & Senses 

Graham’s 30 years kindly provided by Graham’s Port.

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