11 bis, rue Chomel (7)
(New name as of 4/10)
Quiet. Civilized. Small. Pleasant. Welcoming. Very comfortable, without luxury. A favorite. Near Bon Marche.
Les Botanistes is, sadly, the poster child for this personal restaurant diary and why long lead time restaurant guidebooks do not work.
In less than four years this otherwise small, charming, well located Left Bank restaurant has had three owners, two chefs and two names. Change is not your friend, in this case at least.
Now owned by a couple. He cooks, she serves. Some of the dishes are quite good (duck pate, warm raspberry dessert), others acceptable, but unoriginal and uninspired. The pate, served without garnish or cornichons, may be a metaphor for what the restaurant has become: no energy, no spirit.
Stop the presses. Le Gorille Blanc lives – but now in the 4th, in the Marais. (See the 4th).
A long-postponed revisit reveals the same “new” owners, but a new chef (husband) and new staff (wife, with waiter), plus a new attitude.
Same small, charming, inviting room. Same great location (almost next door to Bon Marche). Now an a la carte menu; six entrees, six plats plus dessert. No complex cooking, but honest, fresh and appealing, except without a formula prix fixe, more expensive than it should be and more expensive (by alot) than any number of comparable restaurants which offer better value. Still, a welcome return.
Good, but food may not be the main draw. Less appealing than before the change.
Prices have crept up, but still reasonable. Formula lunch still offered. It might be the meal to try. Too bad. This is a potential gem waiting to be re- polished.
(10x) (2011 – 2014)