11 January 2013

small victories : septime cave, 75011

Septime le resto, its relative informality notwithstanding, is a destination restaurant. One needs to plan ahead - not to mention budget, both time and money - to enter its almost-too-well-appointed walls and enjoy chef-owner Bertrand Grébaut's acclaimed market menu, which at dinner is offered only as a 55€ (before wine) "carte blanche" meal of at least five courses. One can't resent any of this: these are the hassles that attend high demand, and they're to be expected at any restaurant whose excellence is a match for its ambition.

But the resplendent success of Septime makes all the more laudable that Grébaut's new project, a wine bar-slash-wine shop catty-corner to the restaurant, is basically a shanty stocked with wine and some meat. It is heroically under-conceived. If Septime is the mothership, exerting a gravitational pull on diners citywide, Septime Cave is the dinghy : a little escape pod for tasteful rue de Charonne locals seeking a random weeknight tipple.