After a whirlwind weekend in New York City, Don jetted off to Paris – on business, really – and I to Arkansas for a visit with my mom. His being in Paris reminded me of Le Sâotico , a charming brasserie, practically next door to his office on the rue de Richelieu, that has to be one of the best dining values in all of Paris. AND, if you are vegetarian or have gluten free, dairy free, low sodium or any other dietary restrictions, it’s a phenomenal find!
Our first experience at Le Sâotico was a business dinner with several French clients. Arranged by Muriel who orchestrates all international operations and leaves no detail, including Don’s dietary needs, unattended; owners Anne Surcouf and Chef Hugues Gournay were keenly aware of Don’s low sodium requirements and his dishes were as meticulously prepared and executed as the selections described on the blackboard menu.
Their changing blackboard menu offers a fine selection of classic French dishes and Anne patiently translated into English and explained and described each one. Don and I both chose the salmon quenelles; creamy and superbly fresh with a dash of bright citrus and crisp butter lettuce offering a contrast to the soft richness of the salmon.
Another guest ordered the escargot with mushrooms and a light cream sauce(above). Not your usual presentation, he was somewhat surprised and may have preferred the more classic escargot served with a butter and garlic sauce, but I was smitten with their interpretation and found myself wishing I had ordered the snails!
As the evening progressed, I became increasingly impressed with their fresh, modern interpretations of classic French fare. Take the Duck l’Orange with potatoes gratin for instance:
Anne suggested magrets de canard (duck breast) for Don and Chef Hugues fashioned the crisp, roasted duck breast with vivid, flavorful orange segments (a la duck l’orange) and boiled new potatoes.
Of course I was the last to order and finally decided on the scallops. Paired with a delicate, perfectly al dente leek risotto and a delightful light cream sauce, nearly as frothy as a foam and certainly unlike (better than) any Coquille St. Jacques I’ve ever had.
There were 10 of us and it was a business dinner, so I was low key with the food paparazzi, but after chatting about the merits of Sancerre with the young man across from me I felt comfortable asking to photograph his Duck Confit:
Mental note to self: order the duck confit the next time I’m at Le Saotico, which will be in June when blustery winter temps won’t deter me from exploring. I wonder what Don is having tonight?
Located on Rue Richelieu in the financial district (2nd arr) and surrounded by banks and other financial companies, Le Saotico has a healthy lunch business. Hugues and Anne feel that dining should be a total experience of the senses, jazzy or Latin beats caress your ears and no matter where you’re seated (downstairs in the bar or bistro area or upstairs dining room), artwork, artifacts and homey touches adorn the walls and catch your eye. The cozy bar area boasts a full bar of spirits, an extensive, reasonably-priced wine list and wines by the glass offering, it’s ideal for a business or casual lunch or after hours cocktails.
Intrigued by this engaging English-speaking French couple with their extensive knowledge of special diets, I asked if I could come back the next day and interview them during the quieter hours before dinner. Turns out that Anne and Hugues owned and operated Le Reminet, a well known and popular little restaurant in the Latin Quarter. They sold Le Reminet to focus on their family life but after a few years Hugues couldn’t resist the insistent urge to cook and create that dwells in the heart of culinary artists. For their second restaurant, they chose the name Le Sâotico which recalls the tiny gray shrimp found in the waters off the coast of their native Normandy.
Le Sâotico was born out of Anne’s gluten and dairy allergies and their disappointment and frustration with the lack of options available to them when they went out to restaurants. Hugues culinary training also included a designation for nutrition which, from what Anne told me, is similar to a Registered Dietician in the U.S. People with dietary restrictions know full well that it becomes easier to cook and eat at home and once you find a restaurant that is able to cater to your needs and your discerning palate, you dine there exclusively. That is exactly what Le Sâotico is to us when we are in Paris, food allergies or not, I highly recommend the experience to you as well.
96 rue Richelieu, 2nd
Tel. 33 (0) 1-42-96-03-20
Metro: Bourse or Richelieu-Drouot
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