It’s hard to find the door of Agapé Substance, but when you do and pass through it, open your mind to the world of David Toutain & Laurent Lapaire and you won’t be disappointed. Agapé Substance only has one room. The main table which seats 18 people is at the same height as a the kitchen worktop which it is attached to. This takes the concept of the “Chef’s Table” to a whole new level. Another table for two at worktop height sits directly behind Toutain’s work area. This is where we sat – at the infamous table 00. (See video) I already had the feeling that Friday April 13th 2012 was not going to be an unlucky evening.
There is no menu. I can imagine Toutain receiving the morning deliveries and only then thinking about what he will create for lunch and dinner. He does have his “Signature Dishes”, but I don’t think that’s his style – Toutain has a gift and knows instinctively what goes with what and he wants to surprise you. We were passed an iPad that had the wine list on it. After Laurent’s recommendation we ordered an Organic Pouilly Fume from Alexandre Bain (Check out his website – he even uses horses instead of tractors!)
During the evening I noticed that some guests were receiving different courses than we were. I asked David why and he said that it made people sitting together talk to each other about what they were eating. It’s like Lapaire & Toutain want you to feel that you are one big family for that “lunch” or “dinner” you are eating at Agapé Substance. I like that because in general we should eat together more as a family even in our own homes.
Agapé Substance has only been open for 8 months. David has achieved 3 Hats in the 2012 Gault & Millau. The 2012 Michelin Guide however gives him a mere mention – I wonder sometimes when those guys from Michelin are going to arrive into the 21st century? They are always so slow to recognise new talent even when it is right in front of them. As for the Top 100? I would be surprised if Agapé Substance does not enter the list this Monday.
“Step by step” is what David Toutain said to me when we were chatting after we had finished eating. He was referring to how he moves forward with his obvious passion. It was not by chance by the way that we were at Agapé Substance – When we were at Arnsbourg in February this year, Jean George Klein’s sister Cathy told us we must eat there – she was not wrong. Thankfully at the end of the evening Laurent printed a list of what we had to eat, so that I could remember everything – see photos below. I encourage anyone who is interested in imaginative, seasonal & original food to try David Toutain’s kitchen. Paris is one hell of a lucky city to have Agapé Substance. I hope to return soon. (Click on a thumbnail to start slideshow)