54, rue de Seine (6)
Same owner as La Fish Boissonnerie across the street. Totally open kitchen in modern, nicely designed, causal space. At lunch on a busy Saturday, every seat taken for a pleasant if not memorable meal, an alternative to Fish at an equivalent level.
A second try, this time a dinner. A disappointment. Very crowded. Not comfortable. Many Americans. High prices. Diverse menu, but without finesse to the point of discomfort. Sole not boned; lamb shoulder for two not portioned.
The room is good sized, but conditions are crowded and tight. Tables are small. Two grilled soles and a lamb shoulder for two served uncarved with just a spoon from a hot-from-the-oven jus-filled sauté pan just doesn’t work. No plate for fish bones. No room for extra plates. No utensils or room to cut the shared lamb. Traditional French tableside service would be out of place. And, of course, the servers could not spare the time even if they possessed the skill to bone a sole or carve a lamb shoulder. Obviously no side tables – so it is left to the diner – at 35€ for the sole and 75€ (for two) for the lamb.
A menu oblivious to the comfort of the diner. Messy and uncomfortable conditions at high prices, reflecting a careless attitude and flawed concept.
At lunch, limited choice of well prepared, but relatively simple dishes. On the two course 23€ formula, one first course of three plates centered around rich cauliflower soup, choice of dorade with fennel or lamb shoulder with roasted carrots. Dessert or cheese, 8 – 10€ extra. Reasonable wines by the glass, carafe or bottle.
At dinner, more complexity, higher prices.
Taking a broad view of “service”, there is a more fundamental problem, which is a disconnect between the menu and the “style” of the restaurant, including its physical limitations.
For the neighborhood, low prices for solid food at lunch. A reversal at dinner, including very few lower priced wines.