Nomiya, an art-meets-food installation on top of Paris’s Palais de Tokyo, is one hot ticket. My sister-in-law, Yuko, had Jeopardy-button-pushing dexterity in order to secure this lunch reservation from—of all places—eBay. Availability was gone in less than a minute. Meant to be a temporary exhibit by French artist Laurent Grasso (hence the “limited-time fever”), it has been extended indefinitely: 12 strangers dining at one intimate table dangling above the Seine. It is most certainly more stunning at night, when Paris is illuminated beneath, but lunch had its artistic intrigue as well.
Unfortunately, Yuko came down with a cold and asked me to fill in for her. My brother Matt and I took the brisk walk to the Palais de Tokyo, passing yet another 300-person-line for the Musée d’Art Moderne (these acts of patience were beyond me), and perusing the farmer’s market across the street (photos to follow).
The group assembles while the chef gets cracking.
The waiter pours a welcome glass of Champagne. Unfortunately, the wines they served were pretty mediocre. We quickly learned the lunch would be more about the experience than the food. It seems the chef changes periodically, so I suppose it depends on who is doing the cooking as well.
One example of the conceptual experience: seeing the reflection of the Eiffel Tower in a pane of glass.
And, here, the real thing.
First course: Watercress soup with foie gras croquettes. This was probably the weakest dish; it needed more profound flavor (or salt), but we were also reaching our limit with foie gras being served constantly. And here, deep fried! (heart palpitation)
“Earth and Sea”: Sole, dressed with green tea salt and bergamot orange, with morel mushrooms and an herb salad
The entertaining waiter, urging us to be interactive (he even suggested that people put away cell phones—gasp), asked us to guess the ingredients on the plate. The smoked carrot foam at left was the hardest to place. The venison was delicious and tender, speckled with sea salt and heavenly cranberries that added the perfect acidity. In the foreground, a sauerkraut cousin of cabbage and apricot, and, on the right, salsify flavored with thyme.
At this point, we were encouraged to get up and mingle with the pastry chef. (We also realized the main chef had slipped away without fanfare.)
Looking toward the Musée d’Art Moderne
Preparing dessert (with purpose)
Compliments to the pastry chef, this was possibly the best part of the meal (and I’m not even a dessert person): Cassis-soaked sponge cake with coffee ice cream and salted-caramel whipped cream; hint of orange in the crunchy caramelized garnish
Street view: the waiter said this is part of the concept. You enjoy the art of the city below while you become part of the art above; a fixture of the skyline.
A quick tour of a nearby farmer’s market:
Gorgeous fresh flowers
Scallops; I’m reminded that Americans never sell scallops with the orange roe attached
Sea urchin (bottom right)
Escargot with butter and parsley
We enjoyed the blue lobster (right) from Brittany more than once on this trip!
Other Paris restaurant reviews:
Joël Robuchon’s 3-week-old L’Atelier Etoile
Frederic Simonin: An Excellent Secret
Christmas Eve dinner at Taillevent
Christmas dinner at Le Cinq
Casual Paris: Le 404 (Moroccan) and Café de l’Alma
Passage 53: We’re going out with a bang
Bonus Paris post: Le Chateaubriand, Darling or Dud?