A Great Little Restaurant

The theme of the weekend was coffee, tea, and cakes in front of the fire with dear friends from Amsterdam. Jacqueline and Nelleke published two of my books there, introducing me and my work to the Dutch. We’ve been friends ever since, making time each year to spend a weekend cooking, eating, laughing, sharing.

This time we decided to go out on the town, and I chose a brand new little restaurant in Rouen as our destination. Called l’Origine, http://www.restaurant-origine.com/ it opened its doors just a month ago.

Chef and owner Benjamin Lechevallier had won my heart before I ever ate his food, because he buys his produce from my favorite farmer, Baptiste Bourdon. Anyone who takes that kind of care with ingredients is someone I want to know.

I wasn’t disappointed. From the welcome to the food, everything at l’Origine is sincere, simple, intelligent, delicious.

Chef Lechevallier, among whose credits includes a stint with the Pourcel Brothers in Montpelier, and the Park Hyatt Vendome in Paris, has two offerings – the “Discovery” and the “Tasting” menus. This makes it so easy, as does the possibility of having the sommelier choose the wines.

We opted for the tasting menu because we wanted to see what this young chef was all about, and we also took advantage of the sommelier, letting him choose a wine for each dish. This way, the feeling of being on vacation was complete.

From the cubes of foie gras accompanied by yellow and red beet, leaves of perfect spinach and a light preserved lemon vinaigrette to the brilliant quince rice pudding, the menu was a stunner. I particularly loved the potato risotto that accompanied perfectly sauteed Coquilles St. Jacques – the tiny dice of potato was slightly crunchy, the cloud of horseradish cream subtle, offering just a wisp of flavor.

The first course of foie gras with preserved lemon vinaigrette

The main course was shoulder of veal roasted slowly and accompanied by perfectly caramelized sweetbreads with another cloud, this time of parsnip. Crisp truffle shavings provided a perfect accent.

We took a quick look into the kitchen after our meal. There, Chef Lechevallier works his magic with just one sous-chef, and a bevy of machines, from a vacuum cooker to a high-speed freezer. Once wary of such devices I’ve come to understand and accept them. From tasting Chef Lechevallier’s meal, I’ll soon embrace them!

I’ll certainly return to l’Origine, often. As for the Dutch contingent, they’ll be back, sooner than later. My fireplace awaits and now, so does L’Origine!

Restaurant Origine
26, Rampe Cauchoise
76000 Rouen
Tél. +33 (0)2 35 70 95 52

Open Monday to Friday
12h15 to 14h15 and 19h15 22h00

And Saturday night from 19h15 to 22h00
Closed Sundays

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