Restaurant Candide is a new hidden (literally..) gem in the neighborhood Little Burgundy. It is located in a former presbytery on rue Saint-Martin, which took me 15 minutes walking in circles before I found it. The restaurant is part of the Salon 1861 project, which is a church converted into commercial zoning. As the trend of current food scenes, the menu changes occasionally depending on the arrivals and seasons.
The first time I heard about chef John Winter Russell was from the event SAISON, which is the latest project of Mayssam (Will Travel for Food). Since I did not have the chance to go to the event, I was determined to visit the restaurant before I head home for the holiday.
As you make a turn into rue Saint-Martin, don’t hesitate to walk in from this door even if there’s no signs or numbers.
The decor of the restaurant is warm, spacious, and old-schooled. With an open kitchen, customers, if you are curious, can observe the hard work of the team. Candide offers a fixed price four-course menu, which includes two starters, a choice between two main courses, and a choice between cheese or dessert to end the meal. The menu changes occasionally depending on the seasons.
First on the table, black cabbage and grilled onions served on a bed of yogurt, and topped with wild rice. I HATE onions. I would always pick it out whenever I see it. However, these onions were so tendered, and didn’t have the sharp onion taste. The wild rice were like popcorns, they were crunchy. The yogurt was so creamy and thick, which smoothed out the dish.
For the second appetizer, it’s a bowl with leek, mussels, and green tomatoes. Once again, another ingredient, leek, that I am afraid of. But, can you believe that I actually emptied the bowl? The leeks were flavorful, and the mussels were fresh. All the flavors blended so well together.
There are two choices for the main, therefore, my friend and I opted for one each. This is the guinea hen served with squash and cranberries. The skin was so crispy that you can hear the “crunch” sound when cutting through it. The squash was so flavorful as it was cooked in the squash broth.
My friend chose the smoked sturgeon, which was served with kohlrabi, and crème fraîche. When the Maître d’Hôtel brought the dish, she said it was the best crème fraîche that she had every had. So it was mine. It was light, but creamy, yet not airy.
The smoked sturgeon was thinly sliced, and the flesh could be easily break apart with fork. Kohlrabi is a type of German turnip, which added some crispy texture to the dish.
To end the night, we had one cheese and one dessert. This is the Pikauba (cheese), with sweet potato and service tree.
My friend and I were surprised (in a good way) how mild the cheese tastes. The cheese, Pikauba, is a semi-firm cheese that can be enjoyed in wedges or melted in a raclette. It has a buttery, and subtle fruity taste. Moreover, it wasn’t too overpowering that you couldn’t taste anything else. I’ve never heard of or tasted service tree before, therefore it was something new.
I think this was my favorite of the night. Angelica cake served with honey, pear, and scotch lovage. The overall dessert wasn’t too sweet. The cake was dense, but soft.
Again, it was my first time seeing scotch lovage in a dish. It was coated with maple syrup, which the thin glazed made it so shiny. It looks like gold foil from distance. Scotch lovage is a perennial, which resembles a parsley flavor.
Overall, it was definitely an unique experience. The menu was original, and creative, where every dish was astonished and surprised us. You can read this to know more about the restaurant. Otherwise, just go and try it yourself!