3, rue Berryer (8)
I have written elsewhere in this Diary that high-quality, wild-caught seafood is very expensive in Paris, as it has become worldwide. There is plenty of fish available, but the handful of top choice fish specialists is a pricey group. Helen, a three year old restaurant staffed from the similarly themed Le Duc, is no exception, except it offers a 48€ lunch, not normally a bargain except within this category.
In most ways it is a perfect Paris restaurant; smallish (50 seats), impeccable food; approachable, but perfect service; a broad a la carte menu; and the special lunch. It does not disappoint.
From the menu, three choices for each course; raw salmon with horseradish cream, fish soup (we would call it bisque – no cream), and eel. For plats, scallops or rouget simply prepared, or pasta with fish sauce. Torte, sherbet or pastry for dessert. Plus a few extras, including spinach and mashed potatoes served with the scallops, prepared with equal care. A great meal.
Dinner is a different matter, not only is it more expensive – geometrically so, and all a la carte – the menu is slightly confusing and hard to navigate although the staff is genuinely attentive and helpful. The food was excellent, the preparations perfect, but the ambiance was different – more formal and somber. Even aside from the staggering cost, I preferred lunch.
Proper. Bilingual. Deft. (Many other tables ordered a la carte. Waiters boned and plated the fish with surgical skill.)
48€ is not a bargain, especially when three glasses of wine, coffee, etc. bring the bill to 157€. Still, we will return – for lunch. Not as quickly for dinner.