On a cold rainy autumn evening in late November, we met up with friends for a drink at La Societe, St. Germain’s sleek Liaigre-designed Costes-managed bar, while we waited out our reservation at Jean Francois Piege’s year-old farm to table restaurant Clover.
Located in a back alley off boulevard St. Germain, where the Parisian brunch institution Coffee Parisien used to be, Clover is filled with several rustic wooden tables set with just a crisp white linen napkin and a knife. The elongated space seats about 40 diners elbow-to-elbow making it feel like one large communal table. The previous bar area has been transformed into a sleek modern open kitchen with a glass-fronted fridge filled with local produce. At the time we went, there was a beautiful display of large succulent-like green savoy cabbages and tiny dark brussels sprouts.
Clover has a daily prix-fixe menu, for lunch ( three-course €35 or five-course €43) and a more elaborate one for dinner (five-course €60 or six-course €73) with a supplement charge of €8 for a plate of cheese served before dessert. The restaurant showcases produce from the all over France like special quail from Dombes in the southeast or ratte potatoes from Touquet in the north. Most ingredients indicate their origins and the cooking is simple but sophisticated. The food is served family-style so dishes areplaced in the middle of the table and shared between two keeping it all very casual.
That evening, we started out with some St. Jean de Luz tuna, smoked butternut squash, crispy crackers and horseradish – an interesting mix of cold tuna tataki-style offset by the spicy horseradish and warm creamy squash. Next up was the chef’s signature dish of Saint-Jacques cuite sur le pavé parisien – literally one large scallop in a half-shell placed on top of a sizzling hot Parisian cobblestone – a playful Parisian take on hot-stone cooking and gave the super sweet scallop just a tiny sear. This was followed by cabbage, smoked herring foam, preserved lemon and chestnut chips which were the flavors of autumn on a plate – warm melted cabbage leaves with tangy bits of lemon rind and crispy chestnut chips for texture. Main courses came next – the ladies had the fish which was a sautéed lieu jaune (pollock), topped with salsifis wildflower (goatsbeard), radicchio leaves and covered with an emulsion of bay leaves – the delicate white fleshed fish complemented by the bitter chicory and herb-infused foam while the gentlemen ordered the heartier roasted Dombes quail, trompettes de la mort (horn of plenty mushrooms), caramelized onions and mango vinegar.
We skipped the cheese course and went straight for dessert – chunks of dark chocolate fudge cake, milk chocolate ice cream, tiny sweet raspberries, cranberries and grilled pecans. Espressos were ordered and the coffee shots were accompanied by a large gooey chocolate chip cookie which we all broke into and finished. Dining at Clover is fine dining without the formality, like a fun meal with friends at their kitchen table sharing good food and wine. In other words, Clover feels like home, except there’s a Michelin-starred chef who’s in charge of the kitchen.
5, rue Perronet, 75007 Paris
Telephone: +33 1 7550 0005
Open Tuesday to Saturday
Lunch from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m., Dinner from 7:30 to 10:00 p.m.