It is difficult to get a dinner reservation in Paris. There is no OpenTable, and most Michelin-starred or simply hot restaurants are booked weeks in advance, as Parisians like to dine out and so do the city’s visitors. You have to call places, during specific hours in the afternoon, to find a table.
On my last night in Paris, where I was spending a few days after touring Burgundy and learning about French gastronomic and oenological history (a small and insignificant subject, of course), I was lucky enough to score a res on the same day, at Saturne, in the Bourse district. I’d heard it was very good and read online that chef-founder Sven Chartier had worked under renowned Parisian chef Alain Passard–and Chartier was a mere 24 when he opened the place in 2011, by the way–plus a New York Times reviewer wrote that the restaurant “is dedicated to elevating wild and rigorously sourced artisanal ingredients,” which is kind of like a restaurant making eyes at me and saying, “Come hither.”
Hither (thither?) I went.
The place is a Natural Wine Lover’s wet dream:
Derain, Durieux, Overnoy, Schueller, Robinot, Cornelissen, Radikon, Le Coste, L’eclapart, Gramenon, L’anglore, Calek, and on, and on. Amazing selection.
I love that Saturne has a completely sulfur-free wine list. But about the food: the experience was nearly true perfection. One person at my table was a vegetarian, which we’d called ahead about. We convinced him to try seafood for the first time in years that night (I was fist-pumping, because I used to be a vegetarian and I love converting people to protein). His courses were nearly virtually the same as ours, except for tuna instead of foie gras, and tuna again instead of pigeon. And our service was spectacular; my friend did not speak much French and everyone was happy to speak with us in perfect English, and they were also patient and kind at every turn.
There is no written menu at all at Saturne, and in fact they told me none existed at all, so these descriptions are based on my notes while eating. Everything was absolutely incredible. We started with:
A lush and meaty Normandy oyster, de-shelled and tucked away under a blanket of gelatinous watercress, and nestled in a shallot cream with a few pear beads; atop the watercress was shaved radish curls.
It blew us away, and is tied as my favorite course for the evening, with the pigeon.
And my favorite thing to eat at a French restaurant: pigeon, so decadent yet lean, served with cute and soft sunchoke curls with a dollop of quince puree, and a grilled endive. Love those birds.
The first of two desserts was a raspberry sorbet, with a few fresh raspberries (could they have possibly been in season, I couldn’t help but wonder), with a rhubarb granite, an absolutely insane parsley cream that tied the dish together like a belt does to your best dress, and lemon merengue. It was awesome, guys.
When the server brought over the last dessert, he opened his mouth to present the dish, and I silently hoped that instead of a lengthy explanation like we’d had for every dish, he would simply say, “And, chocolate mousse. Voila.” But no. It was a dark chocolate mousse with whole toasted hazelnuts, surrounding a scoop of vanilla ice cream, all topped with cacao crumble.
Go to Saturne, guys. The tasting menu (which is the only menu) is 65 euro, by the way. Worth it, undoubtedly.