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“Restaurant I really want to love but find it mediocre”
Review of Cafe de Paris - CLOSED

Cafe de Paris
Price range: $31 - $40
Cuisines: French
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Dining options: Lunch, Breakfast, Dinner, Reservations
Dining style: Casual Dining
Cross street: Route 108- Old Annapolis Road
Reviewed August 22, 2013

This French-style bistro is very local to me, and I go here every year or so, but more often than not, I find it ambivalent.

The menu is a bit limited. The mussels were excellent last time, but this time were bland and barely tasted of the promised curry. A bistro should have amazing bread, but the bland sliced bread could have been at an American chain.

Two versions of steak frite were okay (and the cheaper bar menu version of steak frite is a good value), but the fries weren't as good as usual, and the meat was overcooked with far too much far too onion-y sauce on top. It's steak frite in a bistro, if they get NOTHING else right, this should be the dish they get right.

The wine list is extensive, but on our weeknight visit, the female bartender didn't really know much at all about the wine (at a french bistro?!)-- if you get the owner, you might do well, but he was busy chatting with some regulars. We picked a Cotes du Rhone that wasn't bad, but it was luck, not thanks to the wine menu nor staff.

It was supposed to be a musical performance night (some sort of jazz), and within the posted (website) hours, but the musician sang a few moments and spent most of his time drinking with the regulars and owner. A couple of songs would have been nice...

I really really want to like it-- french, local, cute, musical events... But it disappoints more often than not. We had a good time because it was a date-night, but for a $120+ date outing, I'd rather have a sense of really enjoying it, not just "ok". And when the schedule has performance on it, please provide performance or put up a sign saying it's cancelled...

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Thank Omar S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviews (66)
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13 - 17 of 66 reviews

Reviewed August 12, 2013

Little else makes me grumpier than bad or mediocre food. In the case of Cafe de Paris, Columbia, MD the food isn’t bad it’s just indifferent. It’s mid August 2013 and the menu of Cafe De Paris lists nice warming wintery dishes of Beouf Bourguignon and Coq au Vin on the menu. In these days of local ingredients and seasonal menu items neither of these says summer to me. That’s why I and my dining partner them and opted for the duck and the Escalope de Veau.
First we began with a salad that looked crushed rather than tossed and rather skimpy with ingredients despite the $9 price tag. My DP had the ‘house’ made pate which was cold from the fridge limiting any flavor it might have had. Instead of crusty bread it came with crackers. I can’t imagine ever being served a Pate de Campagne in France with crackers to accompany it. There was little enough on the plate for the price of $9.00, the crackers seemed like an insult.
Before I go on to the main course, I must mention that room was nearly empty, Edith Piaf blared loudly, and overwhelmed any conversation, from the PA system. The waitress only offered us a choice of water - still, sparkling or tap - but not a drink. We accepted the offer of still water, depriving the restaurant of the income from several drinks.
Our main course arrived in a dismal plate of a brown breaded slab of something alongside the protein of smothered veal under a mushroom sauce. The brown slab was, for some unknown reason, breaded and fried risotto. Yes, are you mystified as to why a French restaurant would deep fry risotto instead of offering a more appropriate starch such as piped duchesse potatoes or even fondant potatoes both of which would be more in keeping with the restaurant’s supposed theme. The veal was OK but they sent a signal that it wasn’t by offering a steak knife. My DP’s main course was the duck which arrived with the same brown slab of fried risotto and the same pile of mixed veg. On the plate were two small bowls, one with a sauce that tasted of sour dishwater and the other a too sweet mélange of apples and raisins. Shame, as both detracted from what was a passable attempt to deal with the duck.
The restaurant says it’s a Franco American restaurant. I would like the suggest it’s more American than Franco.
Dessert was offered, much to our surprise, and recited at the table with no prices mentioned. My DP asked for the Tarte Tatin which arrived fresh from the fridge via the microwave. The pastry was old and soggy and the apples were almost raw. And now for the biggest surprise. Our check came. No offer of coffee, just the bum’s rush out the door. So sad as they missed several opportunities to make some money on a slow night but they management chose to rush the diners out so they could close up early.
If you’ve ever eaten anywhere in France, Cafe de Paris in Columbia bears no resemblance to the real thing. Even a mediocre restaurant in a small country town in rural France would be appalled to serve up what was put on the plate here. It’s your choice but it’s a dismal choice. We will never return.

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1  Thank DiningStar
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 29, 2013

We came to try the new Chef. Huge mistake. The appetizer was a joke. Scallops. Three minuscule scallops (literally as big as a thumbnail on a petite woman) overcooked and rubbery. White wine that was not only not chilled but we had to ask for an ice bucket. This was followed by the worst crab cakes I have ever eaten. Ruby Tuesday does better crab cakes. In fact, you ate better off going there.

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Thank Glamint
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 16, 2013

Went to dinner here - warmly welcomed at the door. We sat in the bar to hear the live jazz on a Tuesday night. The music was classic jazz - reminded me of being in New Orleans.The food was great as well. I ate the seafood stew, my husband ate the lamb, and my step-daughter had steak and frittes. We had wine, beer, and wonderful desserts. We were very happy all around. The ambiance made us feel like we were sitting in a jazz cafe in Paris. We plan to go back.

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Thank HauntedTraveler100
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 28, 2013

Several friends went there for Sunday brunch. We will not be returning any time soon. I don't think anyone really enjoyed their food. A few ordered crepe dishes thinking it was a specialty. We were all disappointed by what we got. They were dry and not at all what we expected. Most of the staff seemed to be preparing for another event that afternoon. I don't think we were not much of a priority.

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Thank gjlambe
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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