Semilla has a way of surprising even the most knowledgeable or jaded food lovers. It might be the fact that vegetables often outshine the meat on the plate, although the latter never disappoints either – it’s almost always cooked to perfection. (After all, the room itself gives you a clue as to the high esteem they hold vegetables in; just look to the walls where the white-painted bricks have sketches of them growing). It could be the bright, fresh take on cooking cod, or lamb, or game that you experience. There’s almost no way to pin down where the delight lies. But whatever the je ne sais quoi factor, the takeaway is that the tastes, scents and sensations of eating at Semilla in Saint-Germain-des-Prés keep diners coming back for more. That’s why it’s a good idea to book if you want to dine here yourself. And you do.
The menu here is a move away from traditional cream-heavy French options; it is altogether lighter, with more zing. But then again, Semilla isn’t your typical Parisian restaurant. Dishes here range in size, so you can eat as little or as much (more likely the latter) as you’d like. There could be scallops and artichokes on the menu, or grilled shiitake mushrooms. Or perhaps you’ll opt for veal sweetbreads or trout ceviche. The plates for two – Normandy côte de bœuf and the pinky perfection of Lozère lamb – meanwhile, have sublime meaty heft and are more than worth the struggle to share with your dining companion. It’s a tantalising, prospect indeed. As is dining here in general.
Incidentally, the name, Semilla, is Spanish for “seed”, which makes you wonder – if this is what Semilla is like early in the restaurant’s life, how much better will it get with time? It’s a delicious thought. We can hardly wait.