A restaurant daring to be different
TEXT: HANNAH JANE THOMPSON | PHOTOS © RESTAURANT L’IMPERTINENT
“We looked up the definition of ‘impertinent’, and it means: ‘someone who dares’,” explains Sarah Feldmann, co-owner and sommelier of the gastronomic restaurant l’Impertinent, in the Saint-Charles neighbourhood of Biarritz, France.
The phrase ‘he who dares, wins’ comes to mind, and rightly so: Sarah and her husband, head chef Fabian – who worked for over two decades in high-end European kitchens – opened the 30-cover site in 2012, and won a Michelin star just ten months later.
Creativity is at its heart: Sarah is also a sculptor, and everything – from decor to plates – is carefully considered to celebrate inspiration. “We have our own style,” explains Sarah. “We deliberately chose simple crockery so that the different colours and textures really show up.”
Influences are global, since the couple also loves to travel. “Our plates might be inspired by traditional French cooking as much by Asia,” explains Sarah, adding that the signature dish is a super-original gingerbread ice cream with coriander crème anglaise and coconut.
“At a restaurant like this, people don’t want to eat like they’re at home,” she says. “They want to be surprised.” And yet, the cuisine never strays too far from its roots. Dishes are always made using fresh, organic and local Pays Basque ingredients, allowing flavours to shine through. “‘Organic’ is fashionable now,” says Sarah. “But we have always done that. In a gastronomic restaurant, people want quality.”
But ‘gastronomic’ doesn’t equal stuffiness here, quite the opposite: the site’s relaxed style attracts a wide clientele, including many modern, young customers. “It’s casual,” says Sarah. “We take care of our guests, but we don’t do fancy. We don’t have a château, but we give 100 per cent passion. It’s authentic, not pompous.”
For a restaurant whose very name evokes wit, it is this approach that helps make L’impertinent a truly modern, colourful, and yes, totally daring, proposition.