The leafy and bucolic Square Maurice Gardette is a true oasis in this part of the 11th arrondissement. Here, on the south side of the square, is Salt, a recently launched contemporary bistro (second picture) headed up by Sheffield-born chef Daniel Morgan.
What on earth is he doing here? I decide to eat first and ask questions later. The emphasis at Salt is on fresh line-caught fish and seafood and my lunch (€27) begins with a signature amuse of smoked cod’s egg emulsion with warm sourdough flatbread. Next is mackerel stuffed with sea herbs and covered with nasturtiums. I consider an accompanying glass of Grätzer Ale (€10) from Dr Fritz Briem but decide on the white Pignocco Verdicchio (€7). To finish, baked Cox apple with dill and hazelnut milk, although the beetroot with wild blackberry ice cream was tempting too.
The menu changes daily according to the catch, but you might also find grilled cuttlefish with soft organic egg and fermented tofu, or smoked and barbecued haddock with braised lettuce hearts punctuated with shavings of 30-month-old Parmesan. Carnivores get a look in too; the roast leg of salt marsh lamb came with salsify, kale emulsion and plump Kalamata olives. And for evening diners there’s a multicourse tasting menu at €65, plus wine.
Thirty-one-year-old Morgan certainly has a tale to tell; if you can read tattoos, the story is illustrated on his arms (one hand says “bread” and the other “butter”). The one-time Parachute Regiment recruit has worked at The Ritz (“I worked for chef John Williams and helped cook dinner for the Queen in my first week”) and interned with René Redzepi at Noma, where he crunched his first ants, discovered serious foraging and “made grasshopper paste”. He has also worked in Sweden at a restaurant called Frantzen, where he learnt to bake the bread that Salt diners beg to take away.
It all makes for an intriguing mix. Indeed, if Morgan were a dish he says he’d be a broth: “Multilayered, full of flavour, bones, seaweed, and maybe some bits and pieces from the garden opposite”.