A highly animated and extremely appetizing Instagram page brought three friends and me to Yeled for a girl’s night / birthday celebration this past January. It had been on our list for a while. We’d sent each other several DM’s over the weeks leading up to our reservation on the topic of all this new-ish restaurant has to offer, DM’s like “They have a €270 cocktail made with Louis XIII and beacuoup d’amour 😉” and “Those sea urchins in their story look bomb dot com” and “They do the fire thing too, not just Mazal.”
Yeled means “decadence” in Hebrew, a name aptly chosen to describe the overall vibe of this place. The restaurant has only two dinner services, the first at 7pm and the second (arguably, funner one) at 10pm. Past midnight, it becomes a cocktail bar, and around 1am the bartenders light a bunch of stuff on fire, encouraging guests to get up on their chairs, tables and even their comptoir to dance, just like they do in Tel Aviv. Celebratory shots appear and the chefs take them too. It’s a whole thing. We were planning to grab drinks at Symbiose after dinner but cancelled. And so, probably, should you.
The best plan is perhaps to go in a smaller group and book a seat at the counter to watch these boys work. Each week, Exec Chef Jean-Cristophe Martinez thinks up a new menu around what’s in season and shares a picture of that menu framed by the star ingredients of the week. Sexy. On the week we were there, it was all about les petites crevettes grises. The menu is organized into four sections (Raw, Cooked, Vegetal and Dessert) and the dishes are mezze-style small plates designed to be shared. The cusine brings together French and Italian techniques with Middle Eastern and North African influences, and they clearly specialize in seafood, which constitutes a solid 75% of their protein-based dishes. The plates are inventive and exciting, ranging in price from €6 to €60 euros.
The wine list is equally exciting (I get excited when I see an orange VDF, a Hungarian dry Furmint and Miraval rosé by the glass). A fabulous Burgundy selection is complemented by Bordeaux’s greatest hits, and some treasures from around France and the rest of Europe. Even more exciting is their cocktail menu, though, which features both heritage and signature cocktails, along with the aforementioned premium cocktails made with things like Clase Azul mezcal and Alfred Giroud whiskey. I should note that Yeled also offers a cocktail pairing menu, which we did not have, but which I’m sure is also fab.
I got Nahua, a spicy, umami little concoction made with smoky Casamigos Mezcal, Cynar, El Hispano chipotle liqueur and Baldoria vermouth. It was wonderful. I also had (two or three glasses of) the Beg Armund, which brought together Deljoy (a citrussy Cognac-based liqueur), an herby Italicus liqueur, yuzu and supasawa in a foamy, fresh and palate-cleansing cocktail. At some point I also asked for a Manhattan-like custom creation and they created something quite perfect, with notes of maple syrup, walnuts and autumn spices. It was all just really good. I’ll be back soon, late-night, for just a cocktail with maybe a little bite to eat. They currently have a cocktail named “Ketchup” made with Casamigos tequila, tomato and chipotle that I’m dying to try…
To start, I had a Spéciale du Bassil #3 oyster (from nearby Arcachon), dressed with a citrus gel, something slightly crunchy like walnut and fresh marjoram. A fantastic combo of clean marine, vibrant acidity and nutty flavors. This was paired with an aperitive of Disznókő dry Furmint and grapefruit, which went nicely with the oyster.
From the veg menu, we ordered the roasted pumpkin, which came on a fluffy pillow of piquant labneh sprinkled with dukkah, which is a Middle Eastern blend of toasted nuts, seeds, and spices. The nutty flavors of the almonds and sesame seeds along with hints of coriander and cumin complemented the natural root-y sweetness of the pumpkin beautifully. A bit of freshly torn dill and mint added a touch of freshness.
Next, a bowl of rope-grown mussels from Camargue in southern France, grilled and coated in a thick sauce made of white miso and fermented chilis. This was earthy, umami and very interesting in flavor. The mussels were plump and juicy, their marine saltiness and slight sweetness accented nicely by the fermented touch.
My favorite dish was, in a way, the simplest: small gray shrimps tossed live into good butter. These were bursting with shrimpy, delicately sweet flavor, perfect with just a bit of garlic and herbs. Easy to eat whole, I loved their firm texture, the slight crunch of the legs and thin shell, and the creaminess of the meat inside.
Dessert was roasted quince, soft and smooth, seasoned with plenty of warm autumn spices, like cardamom. A housemade Chantilly added a creamy touch to the caramelized fruit, while a sweet granola of candied walnuts and coffee bits added plenty of crunch. Not too sweet, a well-balanced dish.
We also tried a chocolate dessert with a little tower of milk chocolate praline topped with a truffled cacao sorbet, a frothy milk foam and a paper-thin tuile with cacao nibs adding some texture. The truffle was just right here, elevating the thing without overpowering the various déclinaisons of chocolate.
A fantastic dinner that finished later than expected and stayed lively and exciting from start to finish. I’ll be back soon for that Ketchup cocktail and some taramasalata or bottarga or monkfish sashimi to nibble on.