Kúkú: remember this name as it is going to be the talk of the town very soon. Netsled in a recess of rue de Penthièvre, by the Champs-Elysées, this surprising restaurant takes us on a journey far from Paris, first thanks to its trendy and exotic setting. Although the weather is often unpredictable in the city, this venue is a place where the sun always shines. A world table created by Loic Berardengo and Zoltan Paterne.
On the ground floor, Kúkú takes us to Capri and invites us to enjoy a delicious break under lemon trees. It feels like being on the terrace of an Italian villa and we feel like on a vacation. From the open-plan kitchen, enjoy the cooks working hard to make their culinary masterpieces and to be on the first row of the show, you can also have a seat at the counter to chat with them a bit. For this is the very spirit of Kúkú: sharing a passion with the eatery’s very friendly crew.
But there is still something catching our eyes. From the stairs leading up to the ground-floor, the bougainvillea seem to extend the hand (or branch) to invite you to take this side road. Mind the jetlag when walking down the stairs: in a few seconds, you leave Italy to end up in the heart of Greek islands. The bougainvillea-covered walls provide a bucolic setting and even though we are in the basement of a Parisian restaurant, this idle vibe immerses us and manages to create a very welcomed break in the city’s frantic hustle and bustle.
And this is only the beginning! For after making up your mind between Capri and Santorini, the journey goes on with dishes. Browse the menu and you will get it. Some headings will arouse curiosity whilst other dishes could sound more familiar. But we warned you: expect the unexpected! For in the kitchen, there is a dream team: chef Julien Gasperi working hand in hand with sous-chef Ayoub Ben Hammi, working hard on cleverness and having their hearts set on serving recipes mixing artistry and gourmet fineness whilst being hearty.
As starters, we were intrigued by the Greek salad origami style and it did not disappoint: the reinterpretation of this timeless classic unveils a Tetris of flavors. Designed as a rubik’s cube, each piece of the puzzle shines a light on the star products: from the sun-packed tomato to the fresh cucumber and the softness of feta and the rhubarb compote for an extra twist… We are not likely to forget the Greek salad Kúkú style!
But imagination behind Kúkú menu does not stop there. The jumbo shrimp, parmesan and Peruvian coffee pairing is a fabulous introduction to this fun universe. Although the composition can sound striking, we recommend you get it and taste this starter, a great discovery lies ahead.
And out of the blue, we are served a trompe-l’oeil cappuccino. Surrounded by smoking dry ice, this unexpected plating will have you draw your smartphone to shoot this dish. Kúkú shakes up the codes and make us start this lunch with a coffee break. Dip crunchy revisited briwats in the cup that – underneath the creamy parmesan emulsion – unveils this intriguing pairing between the flesh of the jumbo shrimp and the cocoa-ish flavors of Peruvian coffee. Spoiler alert: we loved it.
At every step along the lunch, no matter what we got, Kúkú managed to surprise us, even with cocktails, with a list by Matthias Giroud, the talented bartender chef unveiling very incredible recipes. By the way, please let us know what you thought of the Kúkú Garden, a creation based on brown rum, pineapple, mountain tea and Muira Puama with deliciously smoked hints and plated in an… original fashion!
Continue this break in the sun with the very tempting Romanesco squid and Granny Smith dish. Worked the Catalan way, squid is cooked for 24 hours, vacuum-sealed and over low heat. Then, when time has come to serve it, it is seared with meat gravy. The outcome is the squid is slightly crunchy and smooth, whilst the chopped apple refreshes the taste buds.
If Lobster Roll is your guilty pleasure, wait until you had the one by Julien Gasperi. Considered yourselves warned, we think it was one of the best revisits of this north-American street food classic. The toasted bread slices were thinner and the lobster filling heartier. This revisit featured anise hints for a nice and scrumptious touch served with fava bean hummus for a certain softness, truffle shavings to uplift it and harissa-flavored mayonnaise that was to die for.
When time has come for dessert, pastry chef Aldo Gennuso takes over. He makes each plate his own canvas. As a proof of it, the Panna Cotta Frida, an indulging tribute to Frida Kahlo. The unibrow, the lips, the earrings are drawn on the very plate, whilst a fruity headpiece top the famous Mexican artist. The plate features the delicious flavor of red berries mixed with the floral notes of poppy, sprinkled with crumbled green matcha tea sponge cake.
Another signature creation for sweet-toothed patrons: the Cactus Jack. Then again, the plate is turned into a work of art and features a reinterpretation of the strawberry cream cake that is to die for. Chopped strawberries top homemade whipped cream and are served with the famous Jack, a cactus made of green tea sponge cake as soft as the original sponge cake. Some ice cream for the final and refreshing touch. And you also want to give a go to the deconstructed mille-feuille based on Dulce de Leche to finish this break on a regressive note.
You get it, we feel in love with Kúkú and the culinary experience it provides from starter to dessert. A restaurant to keep a very close eye on!
Dates and Opening Time
Starts 7 May 2022
23 Rue de Penthièvre
75008 Paris 8
Métro Miromesnil (lignes 9 et 13)
Desserts: €10 - €32
Entrées: €16 - €22
Cocktails: €16 - €19
Plats: €24 - €48
Menu déjeuner entrée + plat ou plat / dessert: €27
Menu entrée + plat + dessert: €32