For the sake of the anecdote, Alexandre Gauthier took over his family restaurant and inn after having been called back by his father, who had been running the latter for the past 28 years. At the time, Roland “wasn’t cooking ragouts, stews, or typical “auberge” dishes, but rather dishes that at the time were considered high-end gastronomy.” Alexandre arrived within this context, with the firm desire to impose his striking, delicate and at times impertinent style. And his father, a loyal and supportive witness of his son’s talent, let him. That was in 2003. In 2009, Gauthier undertook heavy renovations, lead by Patrick Bouchain. He preserved the carcass, and a couple of frogs, but completely rethought, rewrote and reinvested himself in what he calls the “restaurant moment”. He loves to say, over and over, that La Grenouillère “does not intend to nourish”.
Today, at the age of 33, Alexandre Gauthier is giving way to memory. His new restaurant, Anecdote, is a way of going back to the basics and of not forgetting.
Located 2km from La Grenouillère, Anecdote isn’t a second version of La Grenouillère with a shorter tasting menu and a lighter bill. This isn’t one of those infamous “Gastro’s bistro”. Once again, Alexander is one step ahead. In the time of charred mackerel/oxalis and pigeon/beets, he has decided to side with tradition and go back to sauces, jus, gravy, and the fundamental dishes of French cuisine.
His anecdote is a delightful tribute to his father. “Apart from the plating and the dishes, I didn’t change anything. I use my father’s recipes, and the menu is the one he served back in 1979”, Alexander, the great, explains. The steak au poivre is flamed-cooked with cognac, the crayfish are to be shelled with your fingers, the beef cheek is braised for hours, and you end your meal with classic tarte tatin and crèpe suzette. “Dishes that you can’t really find anymore, except for in Paris maybe. We have forgotten about certain things that we used to make 35 years ago.” Gauthier likes to explain his inner-workings, but we are already convinced.
The décor is also noteworthy: the dining room is gorgeous, with its combination of tiles and hardwood floors, the lampshades made of rope, the green banquettes, the custom-made knives; once again nothing is left to chance. “Anecdote is neither too stuffy nor too cheeky.”
Whether he is looking towards the future or holding on to the past, Gauthier is unconditionally in the present, and that is one hell of an achievement!