So, Backstory: 3 years ago, 4 of my most trusted and cherished food-friends invited me to try a place, they and the big boys at the major print media, thought was outstanding. I went and did not like the meal, but they did, so I chalked it up to, ah, my off day.
A few weeks ago, 3 of my most trusted and cherished food-friends invited me to try a place, they thought was outstanding - that had a new chef. Sound familiar? Me, I didn't check the place's history or feng shui, bad on me.
3.0 Le Bistro Urbain, 103, rue Faubourg St Denis in the 10th, 01.42.46.32.49, closed weekends, is a place I swear to God, I had wiped my memory board clean of, and I was judging for the first time - trusted friends, new chef, probably different carte - OK. I was warmly welcomed, gave the name of the grand-mother of our hostess, which I had written down, installed, given carte and wine list; so far so good except a sign in the window said in English "Home made dishes" or suchlike; which to me means "Yankees, enter here, we know you." My friends came and we set out to do serious ordering.
All of us regarded the carte and murmured about the 1000 year old (just kidding) sardines (but the Rodels do go back to 1824 and their "Sardines sans arêtes millésimées" are supposed to be better if eaten after at least 10 years - OK, whatever; they were OK, with fine bread and butter and great olive oil.
My 3 dining partners, on the other hand, ordered real firsts: salads of asparagus, artichokes and a tartare of daurade; all of which were OK, but not serious food, more the stuff you'd eat on the dock waiting for the Ile d'Yeu ferry.
Our mains were: gnocchi stuffed with chloroform, now I'm being silly, chlorophylle = seaweed, algae type stuff, which our leading lady swooned over, the fish of the day and ribs with the strangest sauce I've ever had, really repulsive. the guys in the kitchen looked Japanese so maybe it was soya, oyster, bean etc., based but it was not to my taste although the confited daikon was very nice and sweet as a confited pear.
Everyone hemmed and hawed about ordering dessert but in the end we had a nice plate of cheese and a nice chocolate mousse.
Our bill for 4, with 2 bottles of a nice Madiran, one San Pellegrino (8 E, wow!) and 3 coffees, was 186.60, thus 93.30 E a couple. Noise was a problem, it was over 90 dB at times despite our pleas to turn it down, when it became 82.9 dB.
Go? For the others, I think yes, for me no, but here comes the fun.......
Post story. When everyone has left or is in the loo, the chief guy walks up with his lap-top with my review of 3 years ago and says "I'd just like to point out a few errors you made." Very civilized, not angry and not contesting my opinions, only my facts. Whoa. "Everyone is entitled to their opinion but not their facts," he seemed to imply. So I listened and thought seriously about not posting this report, but then I remembered that I was not writing it for him, or the chefs or the owners but my readers. So the review of three years ago and today stand.