7.9 Cleo in Le Narcisse Blanc, 19, blvd de la Tour Maubourg in the 7th, 01.40.60.44.40, (but rez via La Fourchette), open 7/7, (Bus: 28), is one of those places in 5* "palace" hotels open 7/7 for their upscale clientele that you cannot imagine will be good on weekends when their star chef (one Canadian Zachary Gavillier, who passed through Frenchie, Saturne, Yard, Bones, Pan & the Beast would not be present). But I, a believer in the Ducasse rule - ie the same guy cooks when he's not here as when he is, took a chance on the sous-chefs - a sort-of American and Austrian and their multicultural staff (Poland, France, who knows what else). And my bet paid off.
Have I ever commented on the nuts served with some cocktails? Never. But these served with my wine were so above the level that United Airlines pushes on its poor suckers in Business Class they deserve comment. The bread was also above standard. And then the amuse bouche - a gigantic oyster with EVOO. "This isn't a belon," I said "Where's it from?" "Brittany." "Brittany's big, where exactly?" "Actually Utah Beach, in Normandy." "Ah, that explains it." Off to an extremely good start.
My first consisted of slices of daurade, not microtomed nor chunky but between, dosed with more EVOO and so delicious I ate them nonstop.
I looked at the mains and couldn't decide, eventually choosing "pulled pork" (written as such on the French and English menus) on mashed potatoes, figuring the chef must have picked up something at The Beast. Well, he did indeed, and they were not smothered in icky American BBQ sauce; and the potatoes were potatoes rather than Robuchon's butter with a hint of potato. Excellent.
The dessert was a sponge-cake with pulverized bits of pistachio that didn't have that over-salted pistachio flavor, they were more, in Dustin Hoffman's words - "honest."
A puzzle for puzzle historians - who does the whipped cream topping's face resemble - Sartre, Socrates, Dante? It's driving me mad.
My bill, with their 7 days a week Narcisse "menu-carte", no bottled water, 1/2 bottle of wine and excellent coffee, was 54.50 E. The dB level was 65.9 largely because their designer has padded walls - others should learn from him or her.
Go again? In a flash.