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Agape Substance – Paris

Out of all the places we planned to try in Paris the most anticipated meal was at Agape Substance. Jose met David Toutain and his wife Thai while dining at La Grenoiullere a few months back and since that encounter has learned a great deal about David’s immense prowess and inventiveness in the kitchen. There is a lot of buzz around this man. Most people say that he is the up and coming chef to watch. After our dinner at Agape it was clear that all these accolades were well deserved.

A little background on Chef David Toutain. This man has been everywhere: Alain Passard’s L’Arpege,(link to our post) Paris, France; Marc Veyrat’s La Maison de Marc Veyrat, Annecy, France and Andoni Luis Aduriz’s from Mugaritz, (link to our pics) Spain. The culmination of these experiences landed him a coveted job as Chef de Cuisine of Corton (links to our post) in NYC. After his time spent working in nyc and living in Bushwick David received an opportunity to be the head chef at Agape Substance, where he has been for over a year.

Agape is located on a busy Parisian street packed with nightlife and restaurants. If you don’t pay attention you may just walk past the unassumingly tiny place…we almost did. Once we entered we were greeted by a charismatic guy that insisted that he take our scarves in addition to our coats cause, according to him, we would be way to hot. That was odd to me given the fact that the room temp seemed pretty average. After we got to our table we quickly understood his reasoning … We were essentially eating at a table in the kitchen! Before he even got settled in, Jose’s eyes lit up, the camera came out and the documentation began. We knew we were in for quite a night and decided to go all out, tasting menu,wine pairing and all! So glad we did, I suggest you all do the same.

What we loved equally as much as the food was the voyeuristic experience of seeing how the kitchen worked and operated. Let me tell you, we thought Yam’Tcha kitchen was tiny but Agape may have had them beat!! It was incredible that 8 men could work in such a small space without going crazy, swedish chef style!  Everyone is in someone’s way at all times. Despite operating in what was the kitchen equivalent of a crawl space there was indeed culinary magic being made before our eyes!

Our first bite was a fantastically curious one. Imagine being told that you could eat your kitchen sponge…intrigued yet?  That was what the first taste was like from a visual standpoint. It was bizarre yet clever and wonderfully tasty. The first bite set the bar very high and the last bite crescendoed at a peak of precise excellence. This perfect flow and flavor orchestration is something that most great chefs have difficulty achieving.

All the small starters were brilliant! Jose especially loved the mini pizzas.

Jose and I are suckers for innovative egg based dishes. The rich and earthy flavors of the cumin and sweetcorn dish really blew us away. Fantastic!

The Foie and Eel dishes were incredible! Each of the proteins bathed in a wonderful sauce that complimented their flavors. The sesame sauce, found in the eel dish was one of our favorites. So rich and dark!

One of the special treats of the night was a bite of the Galician seaweed. Soft cold and tasted of the sea! What a treat!

This dinner was by far one of our favs from our Paris trip. We would go back, but seeing that David is leaving in Dec., it may be hard. No worries big things are in store for David Toutain and we plan to follow him wherever he may go. He did mention that he loves and misses NYC so given that statement we are hoping that his next spot will be somewhere near us…David come back …fingers crossed.

Agape Substance 
Chef David Toutain

66 Rue Mazarine
75006 Paris, France
01 43 29 33 83

Website

Here is a video that looks into David’s culinary style.

 

  • Olivier Van den Broeck

    Agapé substance is absolutely a fantastic dining destination and the proof that there is absolutely a new and vibrant dining scene in Paris, one that is not stuffy, old fashioned or “passé”.
    That’s why I wanted to ask; what do you mean when you say “David is leaving in December”?

    • http://eliseporter.com Elise

      We completely agree! The Paris scene is a vibrant one! We got wind of David’s plans via a comment he made and then it was confirmed through eater a couple weeks ago. Who knows where he will end up… I believe he will be there cooking till the beginning of December. Where else do you love in Paris? Jose and I need to go back.

  • Olivier Van den Broeck

    What a shame; I loved Agapé Substance and it won’t be the same without the chef of course!
    I’ve had great dinners recently in Paris at Le Chateaubriand, Le Dauphin, Rino, Saturne, Astrance and Septime. Would love to pay a visit to Pierre Gagnaire though. And I’ve heard great things on Akramé and Cobéa.
    But first of all we’ll be changing European food scene for New York’s restaurant scene next week. So thanks for your great blog posts in NY; our reservation list is HUGE :-)

    • http://eliseporter.com Elise

      It is sad but whatever he does next will be amazing! Excited to see what it will be.

      as for all your other awesome recommendations We had resv for septime but Jose was working and couldn’t make it grrrr. A lot of those other places on your list were closed on Sunday, I guess in Paris chefs get to take a break :). Next time we go we will have to go during the week. We will be asking for your advice for sure.

      So please let us know what places you enjoyed in NYC. I’m always curious! Have fun! Let us know if you have any questions.

      E

  • Olivier Van den Broeck

    Hi Elise
    As promised; our hit list from three weeks in NY :)
    We had outstanding meals at: ABC Kitchen (what a beautiful, simple, yet flavorful food!), Le Bernardin (much more inventive, mind blowing & modern that I expected. Awesome), Babbo (not the most inventive meal we’ve had maybe, but such a great evening of wine & food), Pok Pok (I would kill for their wings!), The NoMad (loved Eleven Madison Park, loved The NoMad, but especially their ‘simple dishes’, such as the beet appetizer or sweet potato dessert), beautiful bone marrow at Minetta Tavern also! Bouley was also fun lunch (but what a weird service!), but not very consistent in quality during the entire meal. And we had great sushi, but truly horrible service at Sushi Yasuda. I was quite disappointed though by local hipster/underground restaurants, such as Roberta’s, Mission Chinese Food etc. To me their quality of food didn’t seem on a world class level. So if you ask me if I found a local Chateaubriand or Rino my answer would definitely be no. (Too bad we didn’t have an extra evening for Gwynnett St.!) But there is nothing wrong with great chefs like Jean Georges, Daniel Humm or Eric Ripert confirming their status of contemporary innovators through a more formal dining.
    Olivier

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