5.5 Le Camelia, 251 rue St-Honore (thus in the Mandarin Oriental) in the 1st, 01.70.98.73.33, open 7/7, is Thierry Marx's second place in this new hotel, the first being Sur Mesure, located in the same general space and running 145 E for 8 plates or 180 E for 12; there is also a lovely garden (pictured above) overflow and cocktail venue which looks very nice.
From the first telephone call to our exit we were impressed by the staff; very welcoming and speaking the language they heard diners speak. At our table, including two chefs, Colette and myself, we were "outed" and visited almost immediately by three luminaries in the hotel, among whom was the best-known American-French concierge in Paris. Did that affect our impression(s)?; well, it sure changed the check downwards.
Two of us started with the mackerel with sliced carrots (the mackerel was superb, the carrots "so what") and one of us had the pressed beef with foie gras served as a terrine which was fine.
The mains were OK but hardly as dynamic as one expects from the darling of Generation "C", Omnivore and Le Fooding; from top to bottom, daurade japonaise, pigeon with a nice piece of foie gras, a lobster ravioli, and a calamari risotto. All serviceable, but frankly, as Francois Simon said this morning, in an article I only read after our meal, not terribly good.
At this point, frankly (franchement Francois) I gave up and passed on dessert and champagne, both of which we were not charged for, as we were not for our coffees. But the others shared with me their St Honore (a mini-homage to the street we were on and the classic dessert), and the best of the three, the caramel/chocolate preparation. The third dessert was deemed by one of us as not having been freshly made.
Our bill came to 163 E a couple, and as I said, that was for seven dishes and a bottle of wine per couple. If we had been charged as normal citizens, we're easily talking about 200-250 E a couple. For the price, we were surprised that no amuse bouche nor mignardises were offered.
Problems: Unfortunately, while the senior staff, like the three who visited us, are seasoned professionals, the junior ones need more training so as to learn how to pour wine without spilling and/or dribbling, to promptly respond to diners when they seek service, in adding up the bill (we were overcharged on the wine but this was offset by all the freebies) and to walk on the "Clockwork Orange" (as F.S. calls the decor) wooden flooring in heels without sounding like tap-dancers. The deep pile rugs make it difficult for staff and patrons to move the chairs.
Go? Not me again, but let's see if others have better experiences.
Final shot: couple getting out of Brit car to be married at the Polish Church: