Richard Hesse of Paris Update, my friendly competitor/colleague, always lists the Pros and Cons of his eating experiences and our meal today at L'Agapé gives me an ideal opportunity to imitate his summaries.
Pros: No longer as pretentious and no longer strong-arming you to have the expensive wines.
Cons: A long wait for dessert and an incredible noise level at lunch.
The four of us from across the tracks (at Pont Cardinet) entered on a wildly chilly day and received a most warm welcome.
They still have the 35 E pretty-much forced-choice menu at lunch and we all went for it over those at double and treble the price or a la carte which staggered me to add up.
The amuse bouches consisted of two p.p. dry but delicious parmesan "cookies" and a dollop of mustardy creme atop a bed of pureed watercress - pretty darn good.
The first course was described simply as vegetables that had been acidulated but boy were they great - microtomed beets, carrots, beets, shallots, beets, turnips, cauliflower, beets and maybe parsnips.
For mains we were offered a fish or meat - the ladies chose the lieu (despite Colette's recent experiences with said "boring" white fish, as my pal calls it) and we had the entrecote from Desnoyer which was perfect product, well-prepared and both served with winter vegetables in quite different preparations.
The dessert of the day was rice pudding, which I, because of a rare genetic deficiency, am incapable of judging, with poached peach slices, about which I can plead no such problem - the peaches were terrific. Colette, an expert on the subject of rice pudding, felt it was not up to her standards.
Our bill was 226 for 4 (ergo 114 E per couple) with two bottles of wine we were allowed to choose ourselves, but still decanted into the beautiful designer decanters and the lesser priced of which they said they ran out of after we had ordered it, bottled water (8 E) and coffees at 7 E apiece.
Go? I'd still say this is good chow at reasonable prices as long so you stick to the "menu." Once off the reservation, however, beware!