Our review of Pouliche
This vegetarian tasting menu is underwhelming, but are we lucky to have it?
While I have the great fortune (or weak will) to be an omnivore, one of my most treasured friends is a vegetarian. When we first met in 2008, there were very few options for her in Paris restaurants. I have watched her eat a cheese plate for dinner more times than I care to remember.
So I was thrilled to bring Colleen to try the vegetarian tasting menu at Pouliche, the restaurant from chef (and MasterChef judge) Amandine Chaignot. Her tasting menu every night of the week features a vegetarian main dish option, but Wednesday nights are 100% vegetarian. Tasting menus are designed to show off a chef’s creativity, so we were both excited to see what Chaignot would be sharing.
The answer: cream. So much cream. Or creaminess.
We began with a sip of asparagus cream. Which tasted like cream.
We continued with fava beans beneath a cloud of siphoned feta cream. Very good. And very creamy.
Moving on, we tried some undercooked asparagus with a (creamy) smoked mayonnaise…
…fried broccoli (very good) with wasabi cream…
and then leeks in a puddle of Comté cream.
The portions on this 62€ tasting menu are tiny. Each of the preceding plates (with the exception of the asparagus cream) is designed for two people to share. As was this sliver of Saint-Nectaire…
…and these diminutive desserts:
When I compare this to some of the meals Colleen has had to endure during the past decades, I want to commend Chaignot for trying anything at all and giving vegetarians a whole evening, not just a cheese plate.
Still, Chaignot’s effort at Pouliche feels a little light. There is a repetitiveness to the dishes (green thing + cream) and a rather startling lack of generosity. Offering a tasting menu is akin to grabbing the mic and shouting “watch what I can do!” What she did is only passable - a tolerable option for diners who have long been denied anything better.
If you’re a vegetarian or need to choose a restaurant for one, you could do a lot worse than Pouliche. But I look forward to the day when a meal like this is no longer considered one of the better vegetarian options in Paris.