Tag Archives: Pierre Jancou

Svante Forstop from Vivant Cave

Vivant Cave

Pierre Jancou is long gone, but manager David Benichou (formerly Le Garde Robe in Paris and Ten Bells in NYC) is holding down the fort, and it remains meeting place for both winemakers and off-night chefs. Chef Svante Forstop (formerly Aux Deux Amis) assembles a short roster of small plates each night to accompany Benichou’s selection of natural wines. The prices made more sense before a recent increase, but people seem more than willing to pay (ourselves included). - MZ 2014

Practical information

Address43 rue des Petites-Ecuries, 75010
Nearest transport: Château d’Eau (4)
Hours: Closed Sunday
Reservations: Book a few days in advance
Telephone: 01 42 46 43 55
Average price for lunch€20-39
Average price for dinner€20-39
Style of cuisine: Small plates & tapas
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Reviews of Interest

Aaron Ayscough (2014) “Forstorp’s characterful presence almost singlehandedly makes Vivant Cave a destination, paradoxically the best new restaurant of the much-fêted, meaningless rentrée without even being a new restaurant.”

Note: Pierre Jancou, the owner mentioned in many of the reviews below, sold the restaurant in January 2014.

Aaron Ayscough (2012) “It’s a cave-à-manger restauranty sort of thing… the space is sort of a tricked-out pantry, the are just eleven table seats, and prices are precisely where they used to be at the old Vivant, which is to say they’re fair for what one receives, but a notch higher than the wine-bistrot norm.”

Emmanuel Rubin (2012) “Bref, un troquet d’élite, s”oucieux d’élever le niveau mais au risque de la posture.”

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Chicken consommé with foie gras and wild mushrooms

Vivant Table

Pierre Jancou has relaunched Vivant Table with chef Sota (ex-Troisgros, Robuchon, Stella Maris & Toyo) at the helm and more ambitious menus at 29/39€ at lunch and 55€ at dinner. There’s also a carte blanch menu with 7-8 dishes (no choice). The wine remains all-natural, but the cooking is better than ever. Update: Jancou sold Vivant Table and Vivant Cave in December 2013 to the owners of Racines.

Practical information

Address: 43 rue des Petites Ecuries, 75010
Nearest transport: Bonne Nouvelle (8, 9)
Hours: Closed Saturday and Sunday
Reservations: Book a day or two in advance
Telephone: 01 42 46 43 55
Average price for lunch: 35-49€
Average price for dinner: 50-100€
Style of cuisine: Modern French
Special attributes: market-based cooking, prestige ingredients, renowned chef, open Monday

Reviews of interest

Thierry Richard (2012) “Il en sort des assiettes très travaillées, parfumées, à l’équilibre délicat dont la matière première reste de toute première qualité (cet épatant talent de Pierre Jancou pour le sourcing). L’adresse y a gagné en sophistication et un saut quantitique a été réalisé, menant les desserts à un excellent niveau.”

Bruno Verjus (2012) “Le chef Sota arbore un parcours idéal, Troisgros, Stella Maris, Robuchon, Toyo… rien de moins ! Aidé de son second Masaki san, ils caressent une cuisine subtile, élégante où les mets se mêlent de régaler. Une cuisine cuisinée. Hommage à la cuisine du début du XX ème siècle, évocation d’Edouard Nignon, rêve de mangeur… Voici le pâté en croûte de ris de veau accommodé de champignons, de langoustines et de noix fraîches.”

Le Figaro (2011) “L’atmosphère gouail­leuse et le service à son affaire donnent l’impression que les murs ont toujours abrité ce bistrot à vins, nature exclusivement.”

Barbra Austin (2011) “…plump Challans duck leg, with seared cabbage and a hunk of crisp polenta with deep, toasted flavor…an absurdly good burrata…Relying on high heat, timing, and good seasoning, there’s nothing precious about the food here. Unless, of course, you’re talking about the price…”

Patricia Wells (2011) “We ushered in fall with another hit: crunchy polenta topped with wild pleurote (oyster) mushrooms …A main course of Challans duck – moist, tender, meaty – was set upon a golden bed of mashed potatoes with the crunch of coarse salt…”

Thierry Richard (2011) “…je retrouve dans ses plats une forme d’animalité rustique, basique sans être simpliste, comme une cuisine ramenée à son essentielle volupté…”

David Lebovitz (2011) “Vivant is funky, and fun…I wanted the poulard…with crisp skin and a mound of glowingly fresh vegetables….I chose the Lieu de ligne (line-caught pollack)…we decided to share a plate of Italian cheeses; a wonderfully salty, crumbly pecorino, and a milky wedge of Tallegio…”

Phyllis Flick (2011) “It may be a new restaurant but you wouldn’t know from the decor, with its faded charm and cool ambiance…simple but well-prepared cuisine using only exceptional products.”

John Talbott (2011) “The carte is simple: lots of bio-natural-organic-etc wines (look, this is the guy who did it at La Cremerie and Les Racines, why not keep the winning formula?), today – 4 starters (Parma ham, burrata, foie gras mi-cuit and greens) and 4 mains (pork, duck, gnocchi with ragout and a fish from St Jean de Luz)…”

Caroline Mignot (2011)”Personnellement, je n’ai aucun regret à avoir payé 40 € pour mon entrée et mon plat à midi…Les asperges blanches cuites al dente, mais bien saisies par endroits…volaille toute désossée se mange bouchée après bouchée avec béatitude.”

Emmanuel Rubin – Figaroscope (2011) “…quelques produits de belle extraction…vindicatif et tatoué patron militant les flacons qui font aujourd’hui l’alter-vigne nature et biodynamique…voilà au vif du bo-bon appétit ! Délicieusement caricatural.”

Alexander Lobrano (2011) “What Jancou serves is good, solid, carefully sourced and prepared food, with a strong feint at the Emiglia-Romagnan kitchen…everything we ate was delicious, the venue is just beautiful, and there’s a great ambience here.”

Sophie Brissaud (2011) “…une cuisine chaleureuse, populaire, à base d’ingrédients exceptionnels.”

Bruno Verjus (2011) “Ardoise sage pour ce premier jour où l’on retrouve les intuitions de ses précédents succès… Des producteurs auteurs, des produits travaillés à minima…Les prix sont Jancouseques, c’est à dire moins sages.”




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Jancou Sells Vivant, Passerini Sells Rino


Big news: Pierre Jancou has sold Vivant and Giovanni Passerini has sold Rino. Both chefs plan to return with new restaurants.

Italian chef Giovanni Passerini opened Rino in March 2010 after working with Petter Nilsson at La Gazzetta at the height of that restaurant’s popularity. Passerini’s handmade pastas and updated “cucina povera” made Rino a darling of the French food media circuit (especially Omnivore) and a favorite of many food industry folks on their nights off. We don’t have any solid details yet about who has purchased Rino, who will be cooking, or how much of the staff is staying (sommelier Francesca Tradard left last month). We do know that Passerini plans to return with a “contemporary trattoria” for Paris in the not-too-distant future.

The sale of Vivant should be no surprise to anyone who has been following the resto-hopping Jancou since his days at La Cremerie. Jancou, who has a gift for connecting great spaces, products and talent, opened Vivant in the spring of 2011 with a long list of Italian natural wines, and simple comfort food like risotto and zampone (breaded pigs’ feet). He then relaunched in the fall of 2012 showcasing a new chef with fine dining credentials (Sota) and higher prices. It was around two and a half years between the time that Jancou opened and sold Vivant to the same investors who purchased his previous restaurant Racines.

VivantThe first iteration of Vivant’s menu with à la carte pricing

The rise and sale of his equally hyped Racines followed a similar trajectory, opening in the summer of 2008 with a wine focus and simple pastas before later installing Sven Chartier (who went on to chef at Saturne), raising the prices and selling up – all within two years. For now, it seems that much of Vivant’s staff will remain in place: manager David Benichou, chef Sota in the restaurant, and Thomas Legrand in the wine bar next door.

As for Jancou, we wish him well and look forward to whatever he’ll be opening next. Because we all know that he’ll be back within a year to get us excited about something that he’ll later offload. If he’s taking requests, we’d like for that to be pizza.

PierrePierre Jancou at Vivant

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Pierre Jancou at Vivant in September 2012

Pierre Jancou spanks magazine for “fradulent” free meal request

Pierre Jancou is many things: a lover of food, an ambassador of natural wine, and (as we learned this week) a former male model. He is also (as we learned from last year’s exchange with F-R Gaudry) a man with a temper.

On October 19, Jancou received an email from the secretary to Jean-Paul Ludot, the Directeur Général of Marie-Claire, announcing that Vivant had been selected to feature as his favorite restaurant of the month. This was paired with a request for the boss man (and a guest) to eat for free.

Jancou replied that he had never in 24 years invited a journalist to eat for free and that he found such a request to be “louche et frauduleuse.” Ludot himself responded that this was a “very classic approach to test restaurant menus and write articles.” He then cited the number of Marie-Claire readers and told Jancou that he would remove Vivant from their selection. “You are the only one to react this way… and as aggressively,” he continued in a follow-up reply. He went on to say that Jancou was “stingy.”

How do I know all this? Because Jancou forwarded the email chain to me (and many others) on October 21. I giggled and emailed him my reply, but another recipient, Bruno Verjus, published the entire correspondence on his blog Food Intelligence. That gave rise to stories in Le Monde, Le Nouvel Observateur, Le Figaro, L’Express and other major media outlets.

In response, Marie-Claire has issued an official apology for Ludot’s “personal error.” Ludot himself has apologized for his “clumsiness” and assured us that his “attitude has been shifted.”

The greater shifts, however, are in the balance of power between old and new media, and between restaurants and journalists. Ludot’s boast to Jancou that “others have understood that it was an opportunity to put forward their establishment in a major magazine… with 500,000 readers” reveals an (unsurprising) unawareness of the fact that Jancou doesn’t need him.

Restaurants, if they are any good, have already been written and written about. Journalists have little to offer in the way of “exposure” to restaurants that are already full every night. The days of free meals, for the writer (and their bosses) are surely coming to an end. Maybe even for Pudlo.


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Pierre Jancou to open a new wine bar

The restaurant Vivant, like many others in Paris, will close for several weeks summer. There will be little rest, however, for Pierre Jancou, who plans to open an adjoining wine bar/cave à manger and to revamp the offerings at Vivant.

The current restaurant space will reopen as Vivant Table on August 28 with a new chef and more serious culinary aspirations. Chef Sota, formerly a second at Toyo, will expand beyond the simple product-driven dishes of the past, and prices will rise accordingly (as happened when Jancou installed Sven Chartier at Racines). After the rentrée, you can expect to pay 14-25€ for a starter, 25-40€ for a main and 10€ for a dessert.  Fixed price “carte blanche” menus will also be available for 35€ at lunch and 60€ at dinner. Jancou himself will continue to manage the service and the wine at Vivant Table.

Vivant Cave will open just next door around September 15, selling natural wine to go (no SO2) and food and wine to enjoy on site. The food here will be simple, recalling Jancou’s days at La Crèmerie, featuring lots of charcuterie and cheese (6-15€), sandwiches (5-8€), and daily specials for 15€ like rabbit and andouillette. David Benichou, who has a long history of pouring natural wines (at Vivant, The Ten Bells in NYC, and Le Garde Robe), will be the moustachioed face of this new annex, which will not accept reservations.


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