“It’s All in the Wardrobe Just Like I Told You!”
I arrived at 69 Rue Des Gravilliers a couple of minutes early. As I was looking for the address, I noticed a few others with the same perplexed expression as mine, as they looked down at their phones in the hope of some clarification as to whether our maps had deceived us or not. Others arrived, and presumed they had found the secret spot by the small crowd that had formed since my arrival. It became clear that we were to wait for the gates to be opened to us; our own supper-club hidden behind unassuming Parisian doors.
The interior design is one that perhaps wouldn’t look out of place in Andy Warhol’s Factory. In fact, this is something that is mirrored in Derrière’s sister restaurant Andy Wahloo, which takes large inspiration from Warhol’s pop art styling. Various furniture cobbled together in the most effortless of ways, huge prints adorning the walls, perfectly placed side lamps throw milky red light from one corner while tall, futuristic standing lamps illuminate an art deco chair. I am asked whether I would like to sit upstairs or downstairs and given that I haven’t explored the upper floors yet I opt for the former.
Just when I thought I had explored everything before finding our table, Maiken, my dining partner, appears as if from nowhere from the end of a corridor. After looking to see if there was a staircase I had missed, she turned to the mirror and pulled it open! To the unsuspecting eye, the hallway ends with a beautiful vintage mirrored wardrobe and nothing more. Step through, like Lucie, Edmund, Susan and Peter Pevensie and you can escape into your own smokey-Narnia, complete with (taxidermy) foxes and birds!
We start with the Bresaola, Mustard Leaves and Piquillos, with a complimentary melon and olives plate while we waited, which were a welcomed change from the usual bar snacks one often receives in Paris.
A: So impressions?
M: I haven’t tasted it yet! But presentation, A+
A: Yeah it’s cute; although I’m not entirely sure what leaves I’m eating, but I like them. Maybe the descriptions are lacking a little bit..
M: I wasn’t sure either, I was thinking maybe it’s seaweed or something? Why don’t you just ask him? We have to ask him actually.
A: I could, but then to be honest I’m not sure I would know even if he told me. I would just sort of have to nod along and politely say thanks in an “ohhh really? that’s what they are, see that’s what I thought” kind of way. (yummy noises ensues)
M: I think the meat is good, like fresh. I’m gonna say it in three words: the meat is good. Wait, that’s four words but you get my point. …… I love capers, that is actually something that I can talk more about…
A: What? Capers? The most thrilling of subjects. You know a lot about capers?
M: I do! Capers get love. And they get sun and they get all this beauty that comes into the capers and then they’re transported to be put into someone’s meal; and that’s the thing about capers…
A: I think the word capers has lots all meaning..
M: In the Aeolian Islands in Italy, they’re grown with pure love.
A: As opposed to manufactured love everywhere else! Organic love only for these capers! ……. Well I think it’s delicious.
M: Yeah, for a starter, it’s light, it’s good; it’s perfect.
The bresaola was certainly delicious: earthy rich, ever-so-thinly sliced cured beef offset perfectly by the sharp mustard leaves, tangy capers and sweet piquillo peppers. Not only was it wonderful to eat, but presented without pretension, a thing of beauty.
To continue, we chose Lamb Leg, Pyrenees a la Plancha, Herbs from Garrigue and Creamy Polenta and Milk Fed Pork, cooked at a low temperature, with Sauteed Cabbage.
A: [The polenta] kind of just tastes like butter. It’s super buttery.
M: How’s your meat?
A: So good. Maybe a bit fatty. but really delicious,
M: Mine is a bit tough, without a steak knife I kind of feel like I’m sawing into it. But it is good. It’s fine.
A: Only fine?
M: Taste this – I’m gonna say that the red wine, though, is good.
A: I think the lamb is good!
M: The lamb with that wine though, they chose well, I think!
A: I think you’ve sold this lamb a bit short! I’m not saying it couldn’t be better but it was softer that I was expecting and I think it’s a good cut of meat. Try mine – do you like fatty parts or not so fatty? This end part is like belly.
M: It tastes like Christmas!
A: It’s like a pig extravaganza, I’ve got lardon, I’ve got the pork. The sauce is sweet, sweet but I’m liking it a lot.
We decided to share a dessert as buttery polenta and fatty pork was a bit too rich to warrant a dessert each! We went for the tart: Yuzu Lemon and Meringue. For those who may not have come across Yuzu before, it is a Japanese fruit that comes somewhere between a lemon, a lime and a clementine.
A: I’m gonna say it, this is sort of a hip version of a lemon meringue pie. Maybe I’m a traditionalist, but I like to see a healthy amount of meringue – it’s there in the name! – so I’m a bit sad that we’ve only got a few artistic pieces. But it’s fancy! And kind of looks like an elephant so that’s cute.
M: You hit me! What is that?
A: Oh that’s some crust, sorry. I’m so happy it’s made with Yuzu, I’ve only ever found the extract in Paris.
M: I like it but it’s very sour.
A: Ah yeah, that’s the thing, I’m a sour girl..
M: You know those pictures of the babies eating the lemons? Yeah, that’s how I feel right now. It’s just too sour for me.
A: See! If there was some more meringue that would add the extra sweetness that we need and want. It’s a shame they didn’t have a sweeter wine. I mean it looks pretty, but give me more meringue!