Ever since Dessance’s opening in year 2014, I’ve been thinking to pay a visit. I should have come earlier as I always love plated desserts (desserts à l'assiette) and look for inspirations from cuisine rather than pastries only. As I regret also missing the chef Claire Heitzler’s Sweet Sequence when she was still at Lasserre, I was happy to have finally visited Dessance the other day. It turned out a lovely and inspiring experience beyond my expectations.
I knew that Dessance is dedicated to sweet plates but didn’t know what’s offered here are dishes made of fresh vegetables and fruits that are naturally sweetened, where the sucré borders the salé. I came with a friend of mine who’s very good at both cooking and making pastries, and who grew up with home-grown vegetables. We had a very good time tasting and guessing the ingredients.
As all the curious passers-by have wondered, Dessance is a restaurant, but an unusual one. It offers various choices on the menu. We ordered one assiette végétale and a l’audacieux” from the three tasting menus, expecting surprises from the chef.
What came first is a “brioche destructurée” (deconstructed brioche), in which the essential ingredients of a brioche, bread, sugar, milk, and eggs, were decomposed and reinterpreted. It was made of a marshmallow-like pastry and then topped with powdered breadcrumbs and dressed with processed egg yolks. What amazed me most is that the pastry was full of the fragrance of yeast at work (fermentation) and that all ingredients came into place and reunited as a brioche in the mouth.
What I like about Dessance is that the vegetable dishes are never overy-sweetened as they all play with the natural flavors of vegetables and fruits. I didn’t need to fill myself with savory things before enjoying the full course. I was very inspired by the combination of strawberries and green peas as well as the marriage of apricots and corns (see following photos). The silky texture and the creaminess of the green peas cream reminded me of the date paste, a common Chinese dessert ingredient, which never occurred to me as a potential candidate to match strawberries. I also liked a lot the fresh crispness and the slight acidity of the cordifole (Aptenia cordifolia; heartleaf iceplant) leaves that bridged the fruits and vegetables in an interesting way.
Although everything was very creative, not all of them were as convincing. The “Rubarbe croquante et confite, verveine, framboise marinée et citron vert” (rubarb confit and crisp, verbena, marinated raspberry and lime) was presented as a little garden and was full contrasts in terms of texture. However, the scent of verbena was overwhelming (almost like a perfume) that I could hardly finish. It was the same with the Marjoram in the “Pomme rôtie au bois de Fenouil, Nuage de Marjolaine, Croustillant Moutarde” (Fennel Stalks Baked Apple, Marjoram Cloud, Mustard Crispy) although I really appreciated how the mustard crispy spiced up the fennel cream.
The course ended with a real “dessert-dessert” and mignardises. Both were kind of playful and eased up the tension of tasting the experimental course. The caramel ice-cream dressed with candid lemon peels and chocolate bretzels satisfied the palate for sweetness. The use of chocolate bretzels reminded me of the lovable work of chef Jacques La Merde (@chefjacqueslamerde on Instagram), who parodies the haute cuisine and plating by junk food and the goofy yet passionate ALL-CAPS captions. Sometimes readymade snacks could also be a smart and humorous twist to fine-dining dishes. I was also amused by the waiter who told us that the mignardise was composed by “shiso, figues, forêt noir sans-gluten” (shiso, figs, gluten-free black forest cake) and the rest were all “just decorations” and thus inedible.
All in all, it was a quite unique experience and I’m thinking to come again some time laterß. I understand that probably not everyone loves vegetables or desserts made of vegetables, but I would really recommend Dessance to those who look for inspirations and are welcome to uncommon taste experience.
Visited on 31st July, 2016.
Telephone: +33 01 42 77 23 62
Address: 74 Rue des Archives, 75003 Paris
Metro: Arts et Metier (line 3, 11), Rambuteau (line 11), Filles du Calvaire (line 8), Saint-Sébastien-Froissart (line 8)
Opening Hours: Wed - Thu: 12h - 23h / Fri - Sat: 12h - 24h / Sun: 12h – 23h
Price: 15 - 50€
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