Nomiya @ Art Home

eiffel tower

I’m not much for trendy restaurants. And I don’t really care for chefs that are trying to show-off, especially when they don’t have les bourses to pull it off. I recall a particularly alarming meal…and the bill, at the end of it…at a very, very expensive restaurant where I was presented with half of a caramelized shallot which arrived in front of me with a blitz of fanfare, on a plate the size of a hula-hoop.

strawberries and caviar

I took a bite and it was good, but for what it cost, I wanted at least the other half. And look, I worked at a restaurant where nothing was held in higher esteem than a perfect, unblemished peach, so I don’t think it’s wrong to present food or ingredients simply. I just have a hard time swallowing a €55 bowl of tomato soup.

So when I read a bit of the buzz surrounding Nomiya, a temporary restaurant on top of the Palais de Tokyo, I wasn’t especially eager to sit in front of my computer at 9:59am hoping to get a reservation when they open bookings at 10am. Then schlepping across Paris thirty days later to dine at the temporary restaurant in the sky.

apero bread

But I have to say, I’m glad I did. Nomiya at Art Home (prononcer arôme, as they say) is a “concept’ restaurant, designed to look like a Japanese bar, and took over the space atop the Palais de Tokyo where a hotel room had previously existed as part of an art installation. When you enter the restaurant, it’s easy to see why the location is so incredibly in-demand.

overview

I’d read somewhere that you should only dine at Nomiya if you’re comfortable sitting at a table with a group of strangers. Reading the write-up, I couldn’t tell, peering through the prose, if the writer had less-than-exemplary table mates. But at our lunch, there were twelve people, three of us who weren’t French (that’s counting Romain, even though I swear he’s actually Italian…), and everyone talked and mingled well. Actually, it was such a good group that I almost wanted to ask everyone if they’d like to book the place for a private dinner and come back again, en masse.

caviarkiwi knives

Two guests were French surgeons (one did kidney transplants, the other operated on hands), and another couple spoke the most amazingly perfect American English I’d ever heard from non-natives. Slang? Check. Jokes? Check. Odd Americanisms? Check.

Completely adorable? Check that, too.

The waiter was funny/drôll, with a dry sense of humor that gave the lunch the perfect lift of levity. And the cook in the kitchen adjacent to the dining table, who was plating up the food, didn’t seem to mind at all when I kept leaving the table and wandering over to ask him what he was up to. (He told me he worked at Gordon Ramsey’s restaurant before this, and this was a lot easier. I’m sure he wasn’t kidding.)

chef&waiter

I’m the first to admit the amuses-bouches of caviar and fruit, one with kiwi and the other with finely-diced strawberries, were a bit silly. But somehow, high up there, accompanied with a cold flûte of Champagne, the combinations were curious but appropriate. Sliding down a spoonful of each seemed oddly in-sync with the off-beat nature of where we were eating.

funnel chefsoup

If you’re one of those people that likes to watch their food prepared, you’ll be at home at Art Home. You’re steps away from the cook and he didn’t mind at all folks coming over and taking a look. Granted I was the only one doing that (must be an American-thing), but still, I liked talking to him as he plated up our first course of Basil-Cucumber Gazpacho with smoked trout eggs, purple basil, and rouget (red mullet).

fish

We were all engaged in various conversations around the table, getting to know each other, and everyone scraped their bowls clean.

wineglasses

Each course was accompanied by a ‘natural’ wine. The first, an Akméniné ’08 Sancerre wasn’t fabulous. Like many natural wines, it was cloudy and cider-like. I missed the thinness of a standard Sancerre, but I like trying natural wines because you never know what you’re going to end up with when you pop open a bottle.

wine bottles

The next course came with a Nuits d’Ivresse ’07 Bourgueil, and organic wine that was quite nice. Of the two bottles set down, one was corked, and was quickly replaced. Pas de problème.

veal

I liked this wine a lot and it went down just right with the Veal with polenta, capers, sun-dried tomatoes, arugula, and little bitty cubes of polenta.

verticalveal melongazpacho

Like all good meals, we eventually headed for dessert. The gazpacho theme was revived and the chef quickly scooped balls of Melon Sorbet and set each into a scoop of white chocolate mousse (delicious!) anchored in a bowl of Charentais melon puree, which was presented as Melon Gazpacho. (The chef asked me if we had melons like that in America. I said “Oui”, but that they were harder to find than they are in France.) Clean and simple, once again, we were all clicking our spoons against the bottom of the bowl trying to get every last drop.

Since it was lunch, people started looking at their watches, a bit woozily, ready to head back to work. (I’d hoped the surgeons had done most of their work in the morning.) The final note before the send-off was an espresso served with neat orange-colored chile-pepper marshmallow and the most perfect, shiniest piece of white chocolate I’ve ever seen.

Or should I say, touched. It looked like a simple square of white chocolate, but when I reached for it, my whole mind felt like I’d been duped as I discovered it was a pristine square of white chocolate gelée. It was a neat trick, and added just the right bit of whimsy to send us happily back into the street, and into real life.

flickr

Would I go back? You betcha. But I think I’d go for dinner, which is harder to get into. The table only seats twelve people and you need to be pretty fast on the trigger; when I logged into the site at exactly 10am, all the dinners for the day I wanted were spoken for. The price of the 2 1/2 hour lunch was a not unreasonable €60. For the experience, plus wine was included, as is tax and service, I was more than satisfied. The copious amount of wine probably didn’t hurt, either.

Dinner is €80 and lasts three-plus hours, and I might just find myself in the next eleven months—the restaurant is only open for a year—sitting in front of my computer at 9:59am, to try my luck at getting an evening spot. For those not so lucky, or who just want to take a look, you can sign up for a free tour or a workshop, which they have for adults and kids, with one of the chefs.



Nomiya (Site in English and French)
Located atop the Palais de Tokyo
13, avenue du Président Wilson (16th)

UPDATE: Because this is meant to be a temporary restaurant, it’s slated for closure April 30, 2011.

Reservations must be made online and each morning, the seats become available at 10am (Paris time.) Reservations go quickly, although lunch reservations are not as in-demand as those for dinner. Note that the restaurant serves a fixed menu, although they did make an alternative main course for a guest who didn’t eat beef.

Related Links

At Home (Twitter Stream)

Nomiya (Paris Update)

At Home (Flickr group)

Melon Soup with White Chocolate Mousse (Recipe, in French)

Art Home in Pictures (Meg Zimbeck)

46 comments

  • I know we’re used to it by now, but it must be repeated: STUNNING PHOTOS!

    And I’m glad to know that someone else smirked at fruity amuse – I was worried that crinkling my nose at caviar meant that I was getting a bit too big for my britches :)

  • I went to Nomiya as a beta-tester a few weeks ago, and it was quite the same experience
    Nice waiter and chef, good food, incredible place … Only a few restaurants can offer this in Paris today
    Photos here : http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=nomiya&w=9918578%40N02

  • Thanks for posting this, I’ve been wondering about Nomiya and hoped the cuisine would match the setting … sounds like it works.

  • The meal looks and sounds amazing, as well as the setting! Thanks for this lovely post!

  • I’m with Meg – stunning photos! I think we may try to get in while we are in Paris; it certainly sounds worth a bit of effort. So back out comes the Mole book, and I’m writing.. As I am a ‘lunch person’ that works well for me. Just really lovely. Once again, you make me feel as if I have already been….

  • I agree your pictures are fabulous. It sounds like a good place to go, a real experience, and not just the food. I’m sitting here thinking white chocolate and melon, mmmm?

  • Wow, 2 1/2 hrs for lunch and 3 for dinner. That sounds heavenly! At least I can read this and know that such a delight exists…
    Recently, my daughter saw an article in the paper about Annie Leibovitz and wanted to know if she and David were married to each other. It was really sweet and genuine, so I thought I’d share ;)

  • What a beautiful view. Not to metion a funky idea, I remember seeing the hotel photos on another site. Your photographs of the lunch are terrific. Oh that melon dessert. . . .*sigh*

  • It sounds like a very nice meal. I’m struck, though, by the emphasis on friendliness and service. It would be nice if every restaurant understood how powerful the combination of a witty waiter and a calm, welcoming chef can be.

  • Sounds like a delicious and fun lunch. I’m with you though, hoping that the surgeons weren’t headed to a surgery. :) The desert course sounds amazing!

  • That sounds like quite a reasonable price, especially for such luscious looking veal! And please tell me you were exagerating about the 55 euro soup…I nearly choked on my tea when I read that!

  • What an excellent post! I felt like I was right there. Your photo of the wine glasses is incredible. LOVE the pattern and reflection. I am growing two Charentais melon plants this summer and just may try to recreate your dessert if they produce any fruit!

  • looks devine! beautiful pictures as always, but no pic of the white chocolate gelée?

  • The table action reminds me of the “Dinner for Twelve Strangers” circuit that various professors used to host back in college. Always fun. Even when it wasn’t. But the splash of Paris from on high, complete with fancy food and formidable wait staff sounds superior. With luck, I’ll be able to secure a couple of seats for the lunch service next spring.

  • Fantastic write-up, David!! Great job scoring a seat, too. I am thrilled that you enjoyed your dining companions. That is key to the experience, as well, I am sure.

    I love how interactive you are with the chef. And, that you never slouch on the photography. Beautiful!!

    Thank you for sharing this gem!

    Cheers,

    ~ Paula

  • The place sounds totally awesome! Your review makes it come to life very well. Will check out this place if/when in Paris. If you’re ever in Boston, you should check out Sportello http://www.sportelloboston.com. You won’t be able to watch the food being cooked, but the idea of the lunch counter is pretty cool.

  • What a wonderful experience. So glad the dining companions were fantastic, that made it, I imagine.

  • David, you are possibly the only person who could persuade me to go through the rigamarole of getting a reservation here. Wish me luck.

  • I’ve something similar, though it was in something crazy like a floating restaurant suspended by a crane?? Can’t remember, but I know you wouldn’t catch me in it! This looks pretty cool, a bit too sophisticated for a gal like me, but amazing just the same ;)

  • I’m game! All I need is airfare, a hotel AND a booking. ;)

  • Wonderful …wait (!) I want a picture of the trompe-l’œil white chocolate square.

  • I want that marshmallow…and the polenta.
    On a different note, I was wondering if you might help with a slight personal dilemma. I have the option of spending 5 weeks in either Lyon or Nice at the end of the year…I get that Lyon will be colder, but I like the cold. Anyway, do you have any advice? Out of the two cities, which do you reckon is nicer to spend time in?
    Thanks David.

  • Hello David,

    The lunch sounds amazing – the food, the view, and your company! Thanks for letting us (sort of) get a taste of the experience. I’d really love to eat there, or maybe even take part in the tour or workshop…this would be at the top of my list of things to do/places to go to when I plan my next visit to Paris (or maybe I should book the place first, then plan my stay…?).

  • Wow, what a write-up. It’s just about lunchtime here, and I am not sure whether I feel full from all this food I just experienced with you – or totally starving and wishing those chefs were right here in my kitchen. ….. Um, yes, the latter, evidemment.

    Your photos are always fantastic and real and both taste- and thought- provoking. But here, even more so. I absolutely love the shot of the glasses with the b&w motif/reflections. Thanks for sharing your lunch in such detail.

    Where can I place my vote for Switzerland as the next country for July 2010 ?! ;)

  • Oops, forgot to add: enjoyed the Washington Post piece on you – and oh the caramelized white chocolate ice cream recipe! When I make caramelized white chocolate again (I know I will) I’ll need to remember not to eat it all up so I can try the ice cream!

  • chika: Thanks! There’s a live chat today at 1pm (EST), if my internet provider decides to restore access. Sweet life, indeed…

    jackie: I tried to take a shot of the white chocolate gelée, but I only had my fixed 50mm lens and I couldn’t get close enough to it. And it just looked like a square of plain white chocolate; any photo wouldn’t have done it justice.

    Amanda: I normally wouldn’t go to places like this either, but it was pretty special. The food was fine, but it was quite an experience.

    Vidya: Lyon and Nice are two completely different places-it’s like asking the difference between San Francisco and Los Angeles. Why not do both?

  • That does look beautiful, and fun. Gorgeous location and design. The meal also, looks so light yet it is amuse, meat, polenta, soup and a dessert – quite a substantial meal, really.

  • Hi, this restaraunt sounds lovely, I personally am really into Harumi Kurihara and more real, simple Japanese cooking and lifestyle, but this sounds like a fun experience as a change, once in a while. :o) Enjoy!

  • David, I have not known u to be a restaruant critic from your posts (maybe i missed a few) but you did a fantastic job so much so I didn’t even need the pics to visualize, even such damn good ones. This is one restaurant I am looking up on the net: I love to read menus and miss Paris so much-I get to live it thru your life.

    (Did I ever mention that I was in Paris on my luna di miel and brought home a dog, a la Air France, from une animalerie somewhere in a mall near the champs elysee thirty-two years ago and this chow chow was a ‘real frenchman’ couldn’t keep himself seated – jumped out the car window and got run over…..mushigganahs we were…))

  • I won’t make it to Paris while Namia sits atop Palais de Tokyo, and chances are pretty slim that the relocation will not be anywhere near Richmond VA…so, I will have to live this experience vicariously through your post. Which, by the way, is very well done. The lighting on your photos is spectacular.

  • Merci! David! Sounds like delicious fun! Will try to get there for Lunch in Oct.

  • Thanks for this review. We may just try it out in November or January!! And by the way, I took my mom to Chez Panisse about 5 years ago, and she still talks about that perfect peach that she had for dessert. :)

  • Thanks for the recomendation , I will be sitting at 9:59 also to try to get some seats, the view alone is worth half the price.

  • There also cooking lessons. They cost only €20. I took my lesson with 3 American persons on holiday in Paris.

  • Augh – have been trying unsuccessfully to get a reservation – getting up at 4am East Coast time to catch the 10am Paris time when booking apparently open and each day for the past 3 days, it has magically gone from “Opening soon” to “Full” in the space of less than a minute. Not convinced the online reservations system is entirely fair ARE there even any spaces ever available or is it booked up in advance some other way? :-( I did, however manage to find ONE space for a cooking atelier – am hoping one more opens up for my husband… Have three more days when I can try to get a resto booking – we’re only in Paris for one week so timing is important.

  • I wish I knew as well. I could only get lunch reservations, which they seem to have a lot more openings for. I think perhaps they private parties might be reserving the restaurant for dinner, hence the lack of openings, but you might want to follow their Twitter stream and send a message that you’d like to be on the waiting list, and include your contact information. Good luck!

  • David, thanks for responding. It is clearly some sort of secret society that I don’t belong to. I follow them on Twitter and also follow mentions of them and it seems there are a lot of people in my boat, not being able to book online. I would take lunch, dinner, anything at this point. I have emailed them about the atelier bookings since they sneakily opened those up when I wasn’t paying attention and that’s why I only got one place and they emailed me back about a week later putting him on the waiting list… I will persevere, I suppose – now it’s become a challenge. getting up at 4am is no fun though… If I don’t snag a spot this coming week, I will ask to be put on wait list for ANY meal over the week we are there!

  • David, the stars have aligned so that two spots at the lunch miraculously opened up on the very same day I am attending the cooling atelier (coincidence, after a few emails to ArtHome – I don’t know????), so my husband and my friend will attend that and are under strict instructions to take copious notes and a few pics for a guest post!!!!

  • I am the infamous “hubby” who has snagged that lunch reservation – Christmas Eve day no less! :-)

    We’ll take notes and pics, but ot sure we can compete with your glorious write-up, David.

  • David, I just scored dinner for four on December 26th, after many days of trying. For those that read this and want some tips (I know I sure did!) on getting in: your computer clocks are probably off from the world clock by one or two seconds. You can’t trust that when your computer turns to ten, that it is actually ten. Mine was four seconds late. Open another window with the world clock and count down the seconds. To get a reservation, you can’t be on the week that says “Opening soon”. Instead, start on the week before (where everything is full), then, when the world clock is one second before 10:00 am, click “Next 7 Days”. This puts you on the correct week at exactly 10 am. You should see spaces available and click on that as fast as you can for lunch or dinner, then click book. Et voila!

    Thanks so much for your write-up David. I live in Paris but in the 3rd so I don’t make it over near the Palais du Tokyo very often. Was wondering if you knew of a good place nearby for drinks before dinner at 20:00. I can’t wait!

  • David, we had the most amazing lunch last Saturday. We loved your write up and it prompted us to get day trip tickets on the Eurostar from London to Paris and do lunch at Nomiya. Our group was very cool and all of them spoke English which made us feel very welcome although embarrassed. Here we all were in Paris looking out at the Eiffel Tower and everyone was speaking English because of us. One of the diners we met even lives near us in London and is coming for dinner in the New Year. Fabulous! We especially loved our quirky waiter Vincent who was your waiter as well. It was all über-cool and so glad we read your review! Many many thanks!

  • Megan, thanks for the tip on how to get reservations! David, thanks as always for an enticing writeup!

  • Anyone care to post their email? Thanks very much!

    Their e-mail address is listed on their site, which is linked in the post, under “Contact” -dl

  • Thanks David. BTW, I just got the good news that, due to a cancellation, I’m in for lunch this coming Tuesday! Now all I need is a “date” and I’m set!

  • Hello David,

    we finally managed to make it to Nomiya, not for lunch or dinner but the workshop and we had great fun! When we said we heard about Art Home through your blog they were well impressed!

    We also went to Breihz cafe after seeing your Redvisitors Paris interview, thank you for sharing all these great places with us (hope you don’t mind we mentioned you in our blog: theyummyblogsisters.blogspot.com)

  • Hi David,

    My daughter and I really enjoyed lunch at Nomiya in May. They mentioned that they may stay open until the end of the year. I would really like to go back to Nomiya for dinner with my hubby when we return to Paris in September (he turns 50 on the 29th) but I’m not sure what the deal is with them. When I check the website, all dates just say opening soon.

    Do you happen to know if they are still open and taking reservations?

    Thanks for any info you have!

    Jo (who met you at your booksigning at WH Smith in May, along with so many other fans!)