A true rebel when it comes down to both everyday life and even the size of bites I take, I have the annoying tendency to put up a front to new restaurants that create a crazy buzz the moment they open – posters and signs tossed about almost everywhere you look, shoving the news of the opening down your throat until you just give in and give it a go. Because that, my friends, it’s something that we can’t avoid: we, as humans searching for something new and different, always let our curiosity take over.
However true this may be, the problem of this cultural phenomenon is that the buzz created to hype us up to believe that this restaurant is the next best thing does not always reflect what we end up experiencing – which is why we have certain restaurants donning the reputation of “new but not so great” as opposed to “buzz-worthy”.
That being said, I can confess that I usually prefer to wait a few months and let things settle down before I give it a try – this idea allows me to be more honest in my opinion and not be influenced by all the buzz surrounding its opening. Because the whole idea of following the crowd really just pisses me off to no end.
All objectivity aside, I can finally give my true opinion of Pottaka: the new home of Sébastien Gravé has totally won me over, not just at first bite but also at first glance of the check. The whole experience blew my mind! Imagine: appetizer, main dish and dessert at only 27 euros TTC (35 euros at night) with amazing quality to boot. Simply said, Pottaka is the type of place that you welcome with open arms.
Smack dab in the heart of the very spiffy Fontaine de (Bruno) Mars, (sorry, I had to) this intimate and friendly setting had us reliving our dreams where we’re eating our way through the Basque region of France: plates based on tapas, inexpensive wines and generous servings.
For apps – you can choose an exceptional œuf mollet (soft, runny egg) in a bouillon de mousserons (mushroom soup) using local pickings accompanied by foie gras poêlé (fried foie gras) and/or tapas to share: smoked salted meats and bread with tomato chutney (17 euros), a charcuterie board (19 euros) and a plate of razor clams (13 euros) which are to die for.
For main dishes, you’ll be blown away by the generous servings that are flawlessly seasoned. At Pottoka, the queue de bœuf (oxtail) is served with thinly sliced vegetables that are en cocotte lutee (placed in a pastry-rimmed pot). As this dish passes under your nose, it gives off an almost arousing aroma that fills the room.
I can’t forget to mention the amazing roasted chicken that is served in a perfectly balanced sauce consisting of green onions, chorizo and green asparagus – a simple delicacy. As for the merlu en croûte de persillade (parsley-crusted hake), well, let’s just say that it’s a must!
Moving on to desserts…now, seeing that the brioche perdue / vanilla ice cream did its job, but I was disappointed with how sweet the douceurs fruitées were.
All in all, I can prove that Chef Sebastien is not, in fact, gone, he is very much alive, and he is back and better than ever.
Lunch Special #1 (Appetizer/Main Dish or Main Dish/Dessert): 22 euros
Lunch Special #2 (Appetizer/Main Dish/Dessert): 27 euros
Dinner Special (Appetizer/Main Dish/Dessert): 35 euros
Tasting of 5 Plates: 60 euros (that’s what I call ‘the winner’!)