Nothing but the Best in the Roads Almost Lives Up to Its Name
Yann Rio has a pretty weighty resumé. He's cooked his way through the celestial spheres of Guide Michelin at Paris' Hotel Crillon, Le Pré Catelan, and Apicius, as well as the famed Bernard Loiseau in Saulieu.
Photo by billwisserphoto.com Flank steak a la plancha with a bacon-flavored bordelaise sauce.
But his new place, Nothing but the Best, is located in an obscure corner of the Roads. Here, he eschews the fat, calories, and cholesterol of traditional French cuisine in favor of a lighter, olive oil- and vegetable-oriented Mediterranean approach. That means clean, bright, vibrant flavors enhanced, not masked, by judicious use of butter or cream.
NBTB wears its cloak of elegant, sophisticated chic like a hand-tailored Armani. The small dining room is a study in cool shades of gray and natural tones of stone and wood, with cream-colored leather banquettes, a glassed-in wine room, and a partially open kitchen. Dominating the space is a pair of works by local artist Christian Bernard — one is a vaguely Japanese affair with three golden panels set against a black, white, and red background; the other is an installation that appears almost otherworldly but is actually the resin cast of a gnarled tree trunk bathed in silver leaf and dramatically backlit.
That same sense of drama and artistry extends to Rio's plates, mostly polished white rectangles approximately the size of a tennis court. A quartet of crisp risotto croquettes arrives lined up like soldiers on a smear of verdant basil-mint pesto, with a fifth orb suspended over a shot glass of truffled chicken stock. You're supposed to take a bite of the croquette and chase it with a sip of the aromatic stock. It sounds more interesting than it really is.
Rio coaxes every microgram of flavor out of his asparagus soup. Made with asparagus puréed with its cooking water and just a touch of cream, it captures both the vegetable's herbal elegance and its grassy intensity, a duality accented by the addition of a spoonful of the accompanying porcini-infused chantilly cream.