We had dinner at L'Oulette on July 29 (www.l-oulette.com) We've enjoyed this restaurant on many previous trips to Paris over the years, and we were looking forward to a night out, away from the kids, after two weeks of constant togetherness. (Side note: babychou.com provided an English-speaking sitter who came to our hotel and we were pleased with their service.)
The meal was good, and if I had never dined before at L'Oulette I might have been quite happy. Overall, the tone of the place has completely changed and so has the food. I missed the old L'Oulette. I don't expect to return on future trips to Paris.
The amuse was the best part of the meal. It was a tiny cup of cold tomato soup with herbs. The flavors were jumping out of the soup. This was accompanied by a perfectly cooked shrimp.
For starters, I had grilled sardine crostini with a little cup of anchovy froth. My husband had an interesting variation on the traditional melon and ham combination. It was a cold soup with tiny cubes of melon and a couple of other fruits (maybe apple-pear) accompanied by a toast with a bit of ham. It was very light and fresh...something I might serve to ladies attending a bridal shower.
My main was a fillet of carrelet, a flounder-like fish, prepared with star anise. I misunderstood when I ordered this and thought that it would be flavored with the other kind of anise (and I now realize that would have been called fenouil). It was a fine dish, but not a flavor that I'm crazy about. My husband had pork accompanied by chanterelle mushrooms. His dish was succulent and delicious.
The cheese course was interesting. It was a spoonful of very soft fresh chevre - - like yogurt in texture, but tasting of chevre, with a generous grinding of pepper on top.
My husband's dessert was three different chocolate confections. I had a praline parfait, which was served on a chilled plate rather than a parfait cup.
We opted for vin compris, and the wine was a not very interesting merlot.
So why was this disappointing?
The fellow who used to run the dining room, Alain, apparently left a few years ago. He was an amazing guy - always remembered me as a repeat guest even though I only visited every couple of years. The new maitre'd is fine, friendly, and was kind enough to speak in both English and to tolerate my poorly accented French. But he just didn't create the same kind of ambience.
The menu items that I loved are no longer offered...the grand aioli or the braised oxtail stuffed inside cabbage.
The wine has totally gone downhill. They used to give you two different half-bottles (at a table for two), so the wine accompanying each part of your meal was more specific and more interesting.
The coffee service has also gone downhill. There used to be a coffee menu, with choices of coffees from around the world, which was then prepared at your table in a press. And accompanied by mignardises and sugared almonds. All of that is gone.
My sense is that they have opted for a slightly less expensive formula. The complete tab for our dinner, which included two aperitifs and everything described above, was 112Euros...not a bad deal.
A few other Paris notes from this trip....We were accompanied by our three kids, aged 4, 6, 8, and we were spending four days in Paris after a two week house exchange in the south of France. We focused on doing kid-oriented stuff and trying to minimize the amount of walking we asked them to do (after a near-disaster trekking to and from the Eiffel Tower). The Jardin du Luxembourg was a highlight for the kids - - both sailing boats in the bassin and playing in the for-a-fee play area - - and the adults were surprised that the food in the little restaurant/snack bar wasn't bad, though the swarms of wasps were a problem. Despite best intentions, we never made it to Berthillon or to Angelina with the kids, so I guess we have to go back!!