Monday, March 26, 2007

Fabled Star

Following the success of L'Atelier, Umami's husband suggested we try another Michelin starred restaurant, namely Christian Constant's more casual fish and seafood restaurant, Les Fables de la Fontaine. It had received good reviews from Pim herself as well as from my guide book and the Michelin guide and seemed like a shoo in for a great dinner.

The restaurant itself was very...cozy. It had a long bench along one side of the wall with tables placed quite closely together so that to get out of the tables required quite a bit of movement of your neighbours. On the other side were two other tables and a small bar type on the short end facing the street. We were seated rather close to our neighbours and the kitchen but made do.

We were first served a nice, albeit a bit too cold, amuse gueule of a layered shot of white, creamy mousse topped with what I think was creamed shrimp mouse with tiny croutons. I forget what the white cream was but I do remember it being fairly tasty, whetting our appetite for our starters.

The starters on other tables looked disconcertingly similar to our amuse-gueules with layered salads but we went with the choices and I started with Langoustines cooked "a la minute". Which turned out to be simply half a dozen steamed Langoustines served with a small dish of mayonnaise. I was undaunted and happy to dig in and get my fingers dirty but I was disappointed. The flesh of the langoustines were mealy and was not firm and sweet as I had expected.

The boy ordered what he termed a "posh prawn cocktail", which was lumps of crab meat with mayonnaise like sauce, topped with iceberg lettuce and a shrimp mousse that was a lurid shade of orange. It tasted... like a posh prawn cocktail.

Our mains consisted of a "pave de lieu a la plancha", which was like a pan fried sea bass with a crisp skin, plated with beans and squid, surrounded by Parmesan foam and a circle of balsamic reduction.

The other main, was a white fish, similar to John Dory with a buttery flesh, plated with a potato mash with leeks and I *think* celeriac, again surrounded by the Parmesan foam and a circle of balsamic vinegar.

Truth be told, I wasn't that impressed with either of them. Although in hindsight, I'm not sure what I expected, being a fish restaurant but I did expect some unusual combinations or something clever to be done with the fish. What I got was simple pan fried white fish paired with something quite average and plated not at all in an interesting fashion. I am not a snob but was surprised to see different dishes plated in the same manner, not really what I expected of a Michelin starred restaurant.

The theme continued onto dessert where orders of a chestnut and apple compote and a cherry and freeze dried banana compote arrived looking remarkably similar and uninteresting. As Umami rightly puts it, it looked factory-line made.

All in all, I don't think I'd return. It was average food and over priced for what it was. It didn't make me want to try Christian Constant's other starred restaurant, Le Violon d'Ingres.

I remarked to the boy as we left, "this restaurant's a bit squishy". It's funny how "cozy" becomes "squishy" after an average meal carrying high expectations.

Les Fables de la Fountaine

131 rue St-Dominique, 7th
Tel: 01 44 18 37 55
Metro: Ecole Militaire


umami said...

I agree with everything you said. I would add too that we were so disappointed we are laying off french food for a while.

slurp! said...

omg, their presentation look nothing like what i seen on PIM's blog! that's sounds like a bad introduction to french cuisine.