Monday, March 05, 2007


I recently purchased a Rachael Ray cookbook without really realizing who she was. Although I have heard of Rachel Ray as a type of 'celebrity chef of the 30 minute meals', I did not realize that she was the proponent of cheesy words, one of them being the much-lauded "Yum-O", which, although I have never seen the show, makes me feel like much "Slap-O".

So, in honor of my ignorance and my slap myself silly stupidity in choosing this as one of the 3 for 2 books on offer, I give you recent reviews of lunch and dinner (a meal the Ray calls linner).

I went to Le Petit Marché with a new friend, being as we were going to explore the Musée Carnavalet nearby the Place des Vosges.

We arrived at approximately half past twelve and beat two other tables by just 5 minutes. Within half an hour the place had filled up quite quickly.

We both ordered the lunch prix fixe for 14 euros with me having a starter and a main and my friend the main and dessert.

I started with the tartare of fish, which turned out to be salmon and an unidentified white fish, nicely spiced with bits of raw, sweet onion. Although the photo shows that the mint and parsley pesto to be heavy handed, it did not mask the freshness of the fish.

Following which, we both had the entrecote, which was served with big chips and a compote of caramelized shallots. The entrecote was nice, if a bit too well done for my taste but a substantial piece of beef, with the delicious compote. I felt that the compote could have been a touch sweeter and thicker to give it a bit more umami-ness.

My friend's dessert was one of the big stars of the meal. Labelled as a salted butter caramel mousse, I was somewhat surprised to see three quenelles of what looked like vanilla ice cream with a white base speckled with black. Upon tasting (new friend or not, I'm not shy), its looks truly belied its strong, rich, salty caramelly flavor. It was delicious. I would go back for this alone.

For 14 Euros, it was undoubtedly one of the best value lunches I've had in Paris given the quality of the food and the smiling service.

Dinner, however, was a completely different story...ourdinnerwentsomethinglikethis. Veryrushedandunsatisfying.


The famed Chez Omar didn't take reservations so we decided to get there early, at 7:30 in case we had to wait. We were seated immediately but not in the mostly empty main room, in a tiny corner at the front of the restaurant at the side of the bar. This would have been nice as it was facing the street, but for the fact that posters had been stuck on the windows blocking the view outside. On top of which, our waiter, shockingly for Paris, stopped by the table, asking for our order before we were ready.

One of the party quickly ordered a bottle of wine to appease the rushed looking waiter and to buy us some time in order to look at the menu. The wine appeared immediately and we were once again asked for our orders. We choose quickly, with three of us choosing mains of the mechoui lamb and the boy the stewed lamb. After smirking at our mis-pronunciation of some of the French, the waiter scooped up our menus and left. Given more time, we may have decided to choose a starter but quite obviously, there was no waiting around for us to decide.

After what appeared like a quick spilt second later, a platter of fluffy couscous and a huge pot of stewed vegetables was put down in front of us.

While we were still exclaiming at how quick the service was, the man magically reappeared with all of our mains. We were still reeling from the pace at which we were being served when we started loading up our plates.

The mechoui were significant hunks of lamb on the bone which is roasted and basted with spices and butter and should have produced crispy skin with very tender lamb. Although parts of the lamb was indeed very tender and the taste nicely spiced, I could barely find any skin at all (and everyone knows that crackling skin is one of the best parts) but instead had dried out meat on the outside. The boy's stewed lamb tasted like lamb which had been stewed in the pot of vegetables, fished out and plated haphazardly.

I have no complaints about the couscous or the vegetables and even parts of the lamb. But the incredibly rushed, bordering on rude service (my friend was still putting on her coat when the waiter jiggled the table impatiently to get her out!), the prices and the atmosphere of the restaurant were a real let down. You can only get away with all those cons if you have spectacular food and there was nothing spectacular about it at all.

Le Petit Marché
9, rue de Béarn, 3rd
Metro: Chemin Vert
Tel: 014 2720667

Chez Omar
47 rue Bretagne, 3rd
Metro: Arts et Metiers or Temple
Tel: 01 42 72 36 26


Robyn said...

Aw, that sucks that you had a blech time at Chez Omar. When I ate there I didn't feel rushed, just very cramped.

At least your lunch was great. Now I wanna go to Le Petit Marché! I'LL GO FOR THE DESSERT!!!!

Labhaoise said...

Even then you can't really get away with those cons. I'm disgusted!
Otherwise, your entries are almost enough to make me want to return to France! Continue to have a great time babe. Labhaoise