The second part of our eight days eating in Paris and our first major disapointment, here are my thoughts ad impressions:
* Le Denier Metro (€38 for two – no wine) - is often recommended as a classic bistro and it lives up to its name. Not worth a special trip but if in the area it delivers some excellent basic traditional food – the duck confit was especially good (and calorific).
* Chez l’Ami Jean (€395 for four), it’s an old favourite (going back to 2005) but one that really has not aged well. This is our first visit since the new menu and I am afraid it will be our last. It’s pretty much 100% English speakers at dinner with the FOH team not really bothering with French (maybe its different at lunchtime). The greeting is quite aggressive / brusque which is sad given what it used to be. The wine list is now far shorter or at least shorter for Pays Basque wines and it is bloody expensive. It’s the first list to make me search for value all the others have been very reasonable on this trip.
The menu has two sections a €75 set meal and an ALC section (no others were offered – we had a 9:00pm table). The pate and bread arrive and are as good as usual – my expectations are high. But it soon becomes clear that all is not well with the food: the menu ranges from Jego’s solid takes on classics through to his new “fine dining” plates. We have a plate of mixed mushrooms which are devoid of flavour; a modern courgette flower dish plated on a big white tray which has lots of modern gastro touches (and the plate is too big for the table). The basket of charcuterie however is still good.
Mains, consist of a very average grouse with little gamey flavour: a red mullet (that looked and tasted to me like cod - or at least the bits that were cooked did); but at least the long cooked beef cheeks were good.
We wanted cheese next but were aggressively sold the rice pudding and had to argue not to have it - weird. The cheese was OK, and we relented and had the rice pudding – we didn’t think we were allowed to leave unless we did – and it’s not as good as it was!
So €400 for a less than enjoyable meal - there is definitely far better value to be had in Paris. Jego is a very talented chef but he is straddling two styles and for me it doesn’t seem to work – I believe he needs to focus on the old style CLJ dishes or move to a new place and focus on his new style dishes (or even better have two restaurants). It’s a little sad to see an old favourite become such a tourist driven restaurant catering to those in search of the “best” rice pudding.
* Youpi et Voila (€236 for four) is out in the 10eme so had a few beers enjoying the warm weather with the crowds by Canal St Martin – very much Paris of the moment. The welcome at Youpi is great, it’s a small simple restaurant cooking modern Parisian food, it’s a set menu at €38 a head and we start with some duck tartare with mushroom on toast, a new dish for me but good. Then some very soft burrata in a tomato water with herbs; this is amazing, the tomato waters intensity working perfectly with the cheese. This is followed by some simply grilled squid and white beans and ham, again interesting and very good. Next seared veal on a deconstructed ratatouille which is lovely but we are starting to struggle with the portion sizes! Dessert is a plate of raspberries and figs brought together by an interesting saffron ice-cream. The service is warm and friendly and felt very genuine, including some good recommendations for some bio wines. All-in-all a perfect meal and such a contrast to the day before.