5, rue Mondétour, in the 1st Arrondissement.
01 40 26 47 81. Mon–Sat, noon–2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.–10:30 p.m.
When I was a little girl, the only part of ballet lessons that I ever remember enjoying was the part where we got to break free from the dreadful rigidity of the bar exercises and spin across the floor doing pirouettes. Because who doesn’t love twirling around in a tutu?
Les Halles’ newest resto, Pirouette, promises to leave you with equally enjoyable memories. While most Paris restaurants in this particularly seedy corner of Les Halles aren’t worth mentioning, Pirouette is an oasis of cool, class and craft. We were welcomed into the modern loftlike space by a Paul Bunyan–esque character—big and burly and beardy but with a face that sang gentil.
Turns out this gentle giant knew his stuff, too. He answered questions about the chalkboard menu and the wine list with impassioned and informed ease. We knew we were in for some good wine when we found out that the large party on the ground floor was a local wine club.
You know those menus that feel like they were designed just for you, and you find yourself torn between choices? The places where you must go with a friend willing to share, because the only viable solution to the dilemma is to go splitzies and try it all? Well, find your splitzies friend ASAP for your visit to Pirouette. Each option sounded better than the one before. Lucky for me, I had TWO splitzies friends with me, so between the three of us, we got a thorough sampling of the menu.
Every dish was a delicate and gorgeous display of familiar flavors unfamiliarly combined. There was a pulled-duck dish with orange, watercress, slices of daikon and a sprinkling of spice. Foie gras with both fig confiture and fresh figs. A monochrome dish of perfectly pan-fried sea scallops with gnocchi and a treasure trove of ground chesnut in the middle. It was challenging not to get into fork wars for the last bites of each one.
And the dessert: do save room, especially for the riz au lait. It was almost like a warm dessert version of granola and fruit, but with rice pudding. The textures and bursts of flavor were a welcome surprise.
All in all, Pirouette had us doing culinary twirls, sans the tutu, from beginning to end.
In a nutshell: Escape from the clutter and chaos of Les Halles into Pirouette, an oasis of cool ambience, knowledgeable and friendly service and highly crafted yet affordable dishes.
Price check: Lunch menu, 15 euros; dinner menu, 36 euros.
If you like the sound of Pirouette, you’d also enjoy nearby Racines:
8, Passage des Panoramas, in the 2nd. 01 40 13 06 41.
Mon–Fri, noon–2:30 pm and 8 p.m.–10:30 p.m.