Trompe L’Oeil Desserts
Meryle Evans - September 2014
Paris—It’s not modernist cuisine, but the eyes do fool the taste buds at Privé de Dessert, a recently opened restaurant at 4 Rue Lallier, near Place Pigalle. Named after a French colloquialism that means “you’ll go without dessert,” the casual, convivial, 40 seat establishment in the Belle Époque–verging-on-hip ninth arrondissement offers a menu of savory dishes that are named for, and appear to be, classic Gallic desserts. The Paris-Brest, for instance, turns out to be a still life composition of prawns and fresh vegetables with a coconut/citrus emulsion, while the boccolotti à la truffe (pictured) with crème and Parmesan is an upscale mac ’n cheese under the guise of a crumble dessert. Popular entrées include the tarte au citron (Scotch salmon, peas, and carrots, napped with a tangy sabayon) and the Saint-Honoré (a burger—mon Dieu!—with chantilly onion confit, along with a side of frites in the shape of churros).
The concept is the brainchild of Sephora Nahon, who abandoned a business career to study at Ferrandi, the French school of culinary arts in Paris.
Executive chef François Cresp heads the kitchen, serving a young crowd in a retro-decorated dining room with vintage advertising art and Formica tables. For dessert, they turn the tables, figuratively, disguising sweets as savories. Spaghetti à la bolognaise? It’s a meringue-topped lemon tart. Privé de Dessert is open for dinner nightly, except Mondays, and for brunch on Sunday, when the menu morphs to a selection of undisguised “comfort food.”