The Critic has been feeling adventuresome and generous lately, which is a nice combination for those in his vicinity. Last night I spoke to him before leaving work and he said, "Let's find a restaurant in that new guide I bought over the weekend and try something new and exciting!" And so we did. Initially, we were going to try an Italian place around the corner from our apartment, which is in the guide and I have been wanting to try. But that wasn't really exotic enough, being literally five minutes walk from our home. And so, flicking through the pages of the book, I found an entry for a restaurant in the "Fun & Trendy" section called Barramundi.
To understand our reaction, you need to know that the Critic and I spent our honeymoon in Australia and fell head over heels in love with the fish known as Barramundi. It was a ménage à trois made in heaven: me, my sweetie and the tastiest fish in the world. Sigh. So, of course we had to try the restaurant.
Sadly, Barramundi did not, in fact, serve any Barramundi fish or indeed any Australian dishes at all. Well, we actually assumed that from the description in the book but decided to give it a try anyway. On the Critic's insistence, I called ahead to make a booking for two in twenty minutes as we got into the car.
The decor of Barramundi is very much what I would call Modern Parisian Chic: big imposing wooden doors leading into a cool dark interior with lots of wrought iron and jewel-tone velvets. There was a huge vase in the middle of the hostess stand, so we took this for a sign that we should descend to the lower level to find staff. The curving suspended staircase was pretty impressive and made me wish I was wearing more chic clothing.
Now far be it from me to say "I told you so" but I am not absolutely convinced that we needed to book ahead on a Monday night. There were exactly two people in the room when we arrived and they were both staff members. ("Maybe we are unfashionably early?" "Surely not at eight-thirty??") Still, the atmosphere (aside from being somewhat lonely) was not unfriendly and the waitress hit exactly the right note of arriving in good time to take orders and bring food without hovering. She allowed the Critic to pour his own wine without making us feel like it was an insult to her expertise. (Believe me these are rare attributes in a Paris restaurant!)
And the food? It was very elegant if somewhat traditional. From the "Fun & Trendy" rating we expected something a little more exotic than the menu we saw, but this is sadly quite common in Paris. French cuisine may be known the world over as being exotic and including things no one else would ever eat, but in actual fact Paris restaurants tend to be pretty conservative. To see the complete menu, you can consult this site. The Critic began with a Pastilla of Chicken, which was a kind of chicken stew in philo dough. He said it was very tasty and it must have been as it was gone before I could ask for a taste. I originally ordered the foie gras (shame on me, yes, I will burn in hell for my culinary moral sins) but they were out and so I settled instead on the Fraîcheur d'asperges vertes et blanches, petite crème acidulée . In addition to posing no moral problems, this dish was perfectly prepared, with tender but not mushy green and white asparagus fanned out over a lemony sauce. The sauce was so good that I mopped up the remainder with the crusty bread. For main dishes, the Critic ordered a Pavé aux 5 baies (big thick steak with five peppercorn sauce) and I ordered the sole. The Critic's steak was perfectly cooked and extremely tender but he thought the sauce was a bit bland. This is a shame, as a nice peppery sauce can be the perfect accompaniment to a good steak, in my humble opinion. The sole on my plate was very good, but there was nothing very innovative about it. In fact, to sum up I think this is the only problem we had with the restaurant in general: it was very good, but not very exciting.
That said, the restaurant guide mentioned that the restaurant turns into a trendy nightclub on Saturday nights, so maybe that is where it got the exciting reputation!
Dinner for two was fairly steep: with one glass of wine and one cocktail, it came to 130 euros, not including the tip. It was very generous of the Critic to treat me; I am spoiled that way!
Chef: Jérome Michot
3, rue Taitbout
Tél : 01 47 70 21 21
Fax : 01 47 70 21 20
Site : www.barramundi.fr
Métro Richelieu-Drouot or Opera
If you are interested in the infinitely more tasty barramundi fish, you can read all about it here. These versatile fish all start out male and the lucky few turn into females at adulthood. Not only that but they can survive in fresh and saltwater, although they only spawn in salt water. If you are ever in Queensland, Australia (or any other of its native waters) DO NOT MISS THIS FISH. It's a bit like sole, only much, much nicer. Nuttier, less fishy. Tender. Mmmmm....