Porte 12, a new 32-seat neo-bistrot in the 10th arrondissement, is just a few blocks over from other standouts in the restaurant category – Albion, Abri, Le Richer and L’Office.
Chef Vincent Crepel presides over the narrow open kitchen where he inventively plays up seasonal produce in a style greatly informed both by his travels through Asia and Europe and his experience under the tutelage of venerated chef André Chiang whose eponymous restaurant in Singapore was ranked 6th best in Asia for 2014. Chiang’s cooking is anchored in French technique and hinges on a number of tenets – Unique, Texture, Memory, Pure, Terroir, Salt, South, and Artisan – many of which have followed Vincent into his own kitchen.
Tucked into a quiet pocket off the rue Faubourg Poissonnière, the space itself is discreet, subdued in style but with a few design statements that instantly catch your attention, chief among them the corset-shaped light fixtures that recall the structure’s former incarnation as a textile and lingerie atelier. This pared down focus translates to the plate where the chef avoids pomp and highlights simplicity in aesthetic. His strength, however, is in the complex marriage of unexpected flavors and a profound respect and command of the local terroir.
I had an opportunity to try Crepel’s multi-course meal last week prior to the official opening last Tuesday, my first introduction to his cooking and vision. Each dish was more creative and thoughtful than the next but the meal truly reached a crescendo with a short rib cooked sous vide for 24 hours at 56°c, wonderfully tender and covered in a thin veil of bamboo ash and black tea. No detail of the experience was left unconsidered, right down to the coffee which, thankfully, required more thought than a simple push of a button, and had its own story.