Chez Jean-Paul: the humble refinement of chef Isael Gadoua

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Restaurants open, others close, such is the way of life. Today we rejoice at the appearance of a very promising newcomer: Chez Jean-Paul, a modest restaurant recently opened at the corner of Bélanger and de la Roche streets. You will surely be delighted, first by the arrival of a new address in this neighbourhood, and then by the quality of the plates that will be served to you there.

The modesty of Chez Jean-Paul is first evident in the fact that the name refers to neither His Holiness, nor famous painter Riopelle, but rather honours the chef’s grandfather. This modesty is also reflected in the decor, “designed and assembled by our own hands,” says Laurent, our waiter. Finally, it aptly describes, Isael Gadoua, as formidable in the kitchen as he is humble and reserved. Having not had the pleasure of meeting him previously, I thought prudent, as always, to probe his previous employers (Joe Beef, Paloma, to name a few), all of whom praised his talent, his hardworking spirit and… his great discretion.

In this modest, as we said, but elegant setting—wooden tables set with beautiful plates and cutlery—the attentive and caring staff move with grace and efficiency, dishing excellent advice on the best pairings for our meal.

The menu here is uncomplicated, with a few gems that are worth poring over. As an appetizer, the chef strongly recommended a dish inspired by his childhood visits to his grandfather: Jean-Paul’s Marinated Arctic Char. Thin slices of fresh fish served in lemon juice and olive oil, mixed with coriander and fennel seeds, topped with a handful of delicate onion shavings. If you’re in a good mood or want to improve it, perhaps you’ll choose to pair it with a flute of Champagne 1er Cru Dizy, Blanc de Blancs, from Alain Bernard.

For the entrée, two choices passed the test with flying colours. At the opposite end of the table, my colleague enjoyed a generous confit duck leg with subtly roasted beets, all in a duck jus and finished with a delicious herb butter. On my plate, sitting on a bed of creamed spinach and a tasty bacon jus, was a beautiful filet of perfectly grilled Arctic Char. You will undoubtedly admire, as I did, chef Isael’s very delicate interpretation of Pommes Anna—classic French fare consisting of finely sliced pommes de terre baked in joyous amounts of butter.

Laurent, who deftly juggles the roles of server, sommelier, and mixologist at Chez Jean-Paul, suggests a glass of French Family Chardonnay 2022 from Little Engine Wines in the Okanagan Valley. A wise recommendation.

For dessert, perhaps you will be tempted by the bell pepper sponge cake with melilot custard. Another excellent choice.

At night, the modesty of the lunch menu gives way to more extravagant offerings, the chef and his brigade dazzling with generous and inventive dishes that truly show their savoir-faire.

Enjoy your meal, and our best wishes to Jean-Paul, Isael, Laurent, and all the others.

Photography by David Badiane / Chez Jean-Paul

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