Ah, Paris. A city positively fizzing with culture. And also a city where you could happily while away many hours drinking red wine, eating cheese and bopping to jazz in an underground cave by Notre Dame – all of which we did in excess while there during a festive December stay. Before we indulged in the mode de vie Parisien, however, we dined at a restaurant that, quite frankly, I’ll never forget… for all the best reasons!
Silencio des Pres is both a restaurant and a cinema, and walking through the revolving doors off the crisp Christmas-y streets at 22 rue Guillaume Apollinaire in Saint-German-des-Pres, we found ourselves immersed in what felt like a bygone era. Silencio is magical. It soothes with its low-lighting, cosy banquettes and subtle contemporary spirit. It’s both cosy, with a vintage cinema feel reflected in the restaurant, but the large bar, piled high with spirits and purpose, gives it a buzzy and fun vibe too. Globular mushroom lights span the bar with high stools so you can prop up for a cocktail, and indoor plants give a boom of colour amongst the golden hues of the space.
The arrondissement in Paris that Silencio can be found in has been frequented by the likes of Brigitte Bardot and Karl Lagerfeld, looking for a slice of vibrancy. As such, it’s no surprise this chic and spirited eatery with an awesome cinema aspect has cropped up in an area so renowned for its culture.
The restaurant was opened up in Paris by founder Arnaud Frisch in a celebration of its 10th anniversary, with two further locations found in Montmartre and Ibiza. Seated on a raised area, we had a view over the restaurant and watched as the intimate space welcomed families ready to feast, diners on dates and businesspeople making decisions over chef Guillaume Sanchez’s experimental dishes. Cocktails whet our appetite ahead of the food – a Floradora for me, with ginger, lime, gin, soda and framboise syrup. Utterly refreshing, but with a kick. And for my guest, a very seasonally-apt Armagnac negroni made with Punt e Mes. There are many to choose from, including a Calvados pornstar which I would hurriedly return for.
Next, for food! And wow, we had one dish unlike any we’d ever tried before. My partner and I like to consider ourselves as well-travelled when it comes to tipples and fare, but Silencio stopped us in our tracks. The black pollack with mashed potatoes, black pudding and black radish needs a paragraph on its own – not one for the faint-hearted! This dish was presented beautifully, with a sea of dark red sauce surrounding the island-like presentation of the mash and fish. Lapping up the sauce, we both found the taste to be mysterious. We later discovered it to be duck blood. This didn’t really phase my dining partner, but for me, as someone who tends to stick loosely to a pescatarian lifestyle, I was a little taken aback! Duck blood to one side, I opted for the fish du jour which was accompanied by gorgeously fresh seasonal vegetables. Along with my organic wine it’s safe to say I was a very happy chappy. Other plats include a tartare de boeuf, cheese burger and an iconic croque monsieur.
Due to my excitement to discuss the duck blood main, I have laid this review out in a rather unconventional way, and shall now discuss the starters! You can play it safe with ciabatta, but we opted for something a little more intriguing – scallop carpaccio! I adore scallops, but I’d never had them presented in a carpaccio form and I truly enjoyed it. Presented beautifully, with edible flowers sprinkled atop, I’d describe it best as refreshing and certainly not a heavy entree. We also tried the wagyu cecina. A meat that is the royalty of excellence and intense flavour, and boy did it deliver. Other dishes include a red tuna tartare, or cold langoustine ravioli.
Our waitress expertly partnered a wine with our food, and after a few tasters I was convinced that the Ya Plukah white was the one for me. It’s an organic wine, which is something I don’t usually opt for, so it was nice to try something against the grain. However, our waitress, Marie, who was simply wonderful and so knowledgable throughout, did suggest not paying too much attention to the smell. It was pretty pungent, and not the smell you’d expect, but its crisp and delicious character made it almost impossible not to drink, especially alongside my fish dish.
A full indulge was on the cards for our Parisian diner, and we danced it off afterwards anyway until the early hours of the morning. So espresso martinis were the bookmark to our meal, as well as a selection of desserts. St Honoré caramel is a total treat and definitely satisfies the sweet-toothed community. However my favourite was the Tarte chaude aux pommes et glace vanille. There’s nothing I love more than a hot dessert offset by ice cream, and the apples were tres bon indeed! You can also grab a spoon and enjoy the tempting Mousse chocolat et fleur de sel… I’d be lying if I said we didn’t!
I’d return to the restaurant in a hurry and it almost feels poignant that, what with living in London, I can’t take every single friend and family member to experience the magic of Silencio des Pres.