Thierry Costes is a well known name in Paris. The restaurateur owns a number of establishments, among them Restaurant Georges at the Centre Pompidou, all of them well respected and unquestionably chic. Head Chef Thierry Burlot has passed through the kitchens of the Crillon Hotel, the Cristal Room Baccarat and other high end establishments, offering modern, elegant Italian and Corsican food. These two men are behind Caffé Burlot, a restaurant in the boutique shopping district around Rue Le Faubourg St Honoré. The designers, Emiliano Salci and Britt Moran, work from the Dimore Studio in Milan and the hip 1950s homage that takes place at Caffé Burlot is an outstanding example of their understanding of vintage. In the summer, the whole front of the restaurant can be thrown open to give the feel of a high-end street café but inside, among tumbling pot-plants and cushions of earthy hues, the lights are dimmed and the ambiance is one of romantic seclusion.
When Charlotte and I arrived to dine, the service was speedy but not hurried and we quickly found ourselves seated by the open windows, in possession of a glass of bubbles and a view of passing shoppers on the Rue de Colisée. The balmy evening called for light choices. My starter of polipo – octopus in a lemon dressing – was delightfully tender and zingy with a gentle warmth from Calabrian chilli. Charlotte was also impressed with her langoustine carpaccio. Thinly sliced and smothered in lemon juice, the langoustines were fresh and meaty. These seafood starters were accompanied by a bright and fruity rosé that provided a good balance of flavours. Our mains arrived shortly after; sea bream for Charlotte and veal Milanese for me. The veal was juicy and the crumb – salted to French standards and, therefore, to my liking – was satisfyingly crunchy. Charlotte’s fish had a similarly contrasting texture with crisp skin and meaty flesh, served on a summery mix of roasted vegetables.
If one were to choose two countries that take desserts seriously, one might arguably choose France and Italy. Possibly seeking to justify our decision to dine at an Italian restaurant in the heart of Paris, we were intrigued to find that the final course allowed us the opportunity to taste a dessert that can claim associations with both cuisines. The millefeuille (‘thousand sheets’), also known as the Napoleon (a name changed from napolitain to honour Emperor Napoleon), consists of layer upon layer of filo pastry sandwiching, in this case, a vanilla filling with a sharply contrasting fruit compote on the side. Complex in its crisp and creamy textures, this dessert conveys the care and attention that Western European cuisine gives to the creation of pastries and the version served at Caffé Burlot is suitably light, sweet and delicious. The tiramisu was ‘deconstructed’, a term that those who have studied critical theory will recognise as complex in itself. The tiramisu, however, once the sponge was liberally covered in rich, gooey sauce, was simple and comforting – a warm, luxurious duvet sort of food, not entirely what was expected of this traditionally light sweet, to wrap around your tastebuds as the dining experience draws to a close. Which of these desserts had been a more delicious treat is a debate which is still ongoing. I can only recommend that you visit Caffé Burlot, take in its relaxed atmosphere after your busy day shopping, enjoy simple Italian food with French flair then order both desserts and conduct the experiment yourself. It’s the best of times.
9 Rue du Colisée