Expectations were high for a dinner during a week in Paris between Christmas and New Year's based on several online website reviews. Spirits were heightened by the hip-contemporary furnishings, with some soothing technopop playing at just above the threshold of hearing, and the enticing menu items promising a fusion of French and Asian cuisines. But then the food came.
A baby pumpkin appetizer with foam, flavored with pork belly and chocolate pepper (19 Euro) was in fact a baby pumpkin filled with the blandest puree of what could have passed as baby food, with a flavorless scum on top with a few specks of some likewise inert dark substance. My wife's seared foie gras with bouillon (23 Euro) was a nicely seared if small portion of foie gras totally debased by plunking it in tepid bland broth with some tough braised veggies in the bottom of the bowl, ruining the sear and expected textural contrast. There really were no unique flavors in the bowl. It was an exercise in manual dexterity to eat the foie gras in the deep bowl in which it was served.
The pheasant at 39 Euro (a signature dish, see below) was perhaps 3 ounces of mushy fowl, with gelatinous skin, again devoid of any of the Asian flavors so tantalizingly promised by the menu.
Not to be outdone, I had the wild boar with wasabi crust (38 Euro). Two pieces of oddly textured tepid purple flesh were enshrined with a curiously textured thin crust that held no flavor or interest, surrounded by a tablespoon of anonymous brown sauce. The meat had a peculiar taste, that was unlike any wild game I have had, either in a restaurant or in a home meal. I did not finish the dish, a rare event for dedicated eaters such as we.
The maitre d'/head waiter anxiously asked how we had enjoyed the meal as we elected to pass on dessert and asked for the check. We tried to honestly but tactfully dodge the question by just saying we found the dishes a bit bland for our tastes. Nothing would do though, but that the major domo, in an unnecessary act of passive aggression dragged the Asian chef out of the kitchen to discuss/defend his cuisine - the coup de grace to the evening. My wife speaks excellent French, and the discussion was cordial. It appears the kitchen focuses on sous vide cooking, which would explain the steam table quality of the food, but not the woefully underseasoned final products. The pheasant was reported by the chef as one of the most popular dishes on the menu.
The wine list is Bordeaux-centric; sakes are heavily featured. We had two glasses of champagne at 15 Euro each, and a good Savigny les Beaune 1er cru that was aggressively priced at 75 Euro.
The service was just the maitre d' and one other server, who appeared fairly new to the high-end restaurant scene (she helpfully pointed out upon presentation of the pheasant, that, indeed, the two round green items were brussel sprouts, and (quell surprise!) the two exotic orange objects were carrots). The overall effect was oily, condescending and inept.
The final straw in this saga were the punishing prices for such poor cuisine. At 224 Euro (admittedly 105 was the bar tab) for two courses, it was embarrassing and enraging to leave feeling underfed with profoundly mediocre food.
Overall, maybe we just had bad luck in ordering, but I think this is a classic example of a high end tourist restaurant extortion. Be warned.
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