43 Rue Godefroy Cavaignac,
Phone: 33 9 80 75 32 08
“We could be anywhere but Paris,” my dining companion uttered as we sat down to dinner at Bones. In fact, it feels more like Bushwick, Brooklyn than Paris, France. The servers all speak English and the crowd takes cigarette breaks between each course.
This new hotspot looks more like a construction site than a restaurant that’s open for business, taking the notion of ‘bare bones’ to a new level. The floors are cement, the walls completely unfinished and coming undone, some brick, others stone or unfinished plaster, and a metal beam in the center of it all. Just about everything is exposed.
Bones is where the hipsters hang out these days, listening to alternative music pumping through the stereo, while feasting on hearts and other eccentric body parts. Dinner here is like an episode of Fear Factor:Food (if that were an actual show). If you’re a fan of edible trash so to speak — knees, thighs, and intestines come to mind — don’t make a reservation here. The chef, James Henry, has a thing for offal. I’m a pretty adventurous eater and all, but even I was pushed to my limits. When you’re serving a tasting menu, most chefs try to whet the appetite, not stomp it out. The first course was lovely, a raw Utah Beach Oyster, served in the shell with pickled diced rhubarb. But I didn’t see the Duck Heart coming. It’s a little jarring to be presented with a half of a Duck Heart each, dabbed with romesco sauce and breadcrumbs. It was intense.
Take comfort in the sourdough bread and butter here, which ranks right up there with some of the best of them. It’s served, piping hot from the oven, with a crusty, charred exterior and soft, doughy tangy interior alongside butter so soft it melts on contact with your knife. While I wasn’t a fan of that duck heart, I did did a unique union of Smoked Mackerel, Housemade Ricotta, Peas, and Herbs, all anointed with a jus made from smoking the skins of the peas.
This is a chef with something to prove. Oh, and he’s not Parisian. He’s a young Aussie (and a hot one) by the name of the James Henry who got his feet wet at Spring and Au Passage before setting off on his own. If you’re not up for the tasting menu (or couldn’t snag a table), you can always try to snag a seat at the bar, where you can nibble on more casual bites, like mozzarella made-to-order, spiced almonds, oysters, sausages, or veal tartare along with a good and affordable glass of wine.
It’s hard to imagine eating a tasting menu in this setting, but I did just that, discovering a beautiful dish of Roasted Asparagus, topped with Bottarga & an herbed breadcrumbs. The thing about Bones is it can be so delicate and delightful and then wham, Pig’s Neck (and fatty at that!) arranged with Artichokes, Zucchini and Charred Spinach (best part) followed by Veal Hearts, unctous and a bit too intense for my taste, but maybe I’m getting old.
But I did love the Chocolate Truffles flavored with Celery, and the Granita of Elderflower over Strawberries with a Homemade Yogurt and edible elderflowers.