He has just opened the Mantis restaurant (Paris, 145) in a place that was an Argentine steakhouse and in which fish and shellfish have now gained ground over meat. And where the embers under the grill coexist with the flame that surrounds the wok or the rattle of the buckets in the bain-marie. The chefs and partners Toni Solans and David Romero, who assure that since they met years ago while studying at Hofmann, a glance is enough to understand each other, they prefer ingredients from the sea to play with those contrasts of Asian techniques and flavors that they enjoy, without wanting to be pigeonholed in a style or an origin. It would be as unthinkable for them to renounce Chinese cuisine as Mexican or Catalan cuisine, which in their first letter appears in a sea and mountains of cuttlefish, sea urchins and cow tongue.
With a mischievous smile, they say that they have called the restaurant Mantis because it is "the natural evolution" of a previous project about which they better not give too many details, although apparently it was hidden in the street of Les Mosques and was part of a clandestine culinary trail. Be careful with that insect, the mantis, which the RAE describes as elongated, with large eyes and long, robust forelegs, which it keeps collected before its head as if in a prayerful attitude and equipped with strong spines to hold the prey it feeds on. Be careful with this new Mantis, which is starting off strong and whose owners assure that they don't think about stars or anything other than having a great time cooking and trying to reconcile a bit, if possible (for now they start closing on Saturdays and Sundays). They will give war and at this point of the year it can already be seen that we are facing one of the most outstanding openings of 2023.
Solans and Romero have in the kitchen Dani Baeza, a Chilean engineer who went over to the stove and with the cook of Greek ancestors Sandra Tsikos, and at the sink with the boundless energy of Aliq Acbar. In the room they did not doubt it: "We had to convince yes or yes Albert Ribas", excellent sommelier ex Koi Shunka and Compartir.
The careful interior design, signed by Cristina Cirera, invites you to think that there is an investment partner in the back room. That's right: they affectionately call him the Patron and he is the father of Solans, the architect Antonio Solans Cardus.
From this privileged place in front of the bar, we delve into dishes as interesting as squid sashimi on a thin toasted sheet of nori seaweed and lemon peel (7 euros) or Norway lobster on crispy chicken skin with saffron mayonnaise (8 euros). euro). And we are discovering, while they work plating (why not the help of tongs?), the trajectory of both cooks apart from their joint experience when Toni convinced David to go to the street of the Mosques. The latter did an internship at DiverXo in Madrid at a very young age and was hired a month after joining. He endured the pressure of that kitchen for just over a year, which left him as exhausted as it was fascinated, just like the figure of Muñoz, “a phenomenon of nature”.
Later he would continue learning from Hideki Matsuhisa at Koy Shunka. Solans began his internship in Sweden. “I am one of the few who have been lucky enough to work with Magnus Nilsson on the late Fäviken. A crack". He also went through the Barcelona Slow
The smoked mackerel dish with goat yogurt and aubergine is beautiful and sweet; delicate and tasty “har gow” (18 euros), delicate prawn dim sums with sauce from their heads; The spicy fried aubergines with that Sichuan sauce (11 euros) are vibrant, which they prepare with numerous ingredients and whose nuances of flavor and contrasts of textures they feel summarize the essence of their attitude in the kitchen. Also very interesting is the "gui tei" oxtail with murgulas (22 euros). The desserts bear the signature of her friend Nathalie Miranda (ex Pakta), who has not been able to join the team because she is preparing her own project but she wanted to support them.