Friday, March 17, 2006

"Passage" en Enfer (or Stomach Wide Closed)

It's difficult to know exactly where to start when one is so disappointed, and for so many reasons, about a dining establishment, no less one with a two-star Michelin chef, a concept raved about in the international press, and fawning articles in publications like the Figaroscope (shame on you Cammas and co.). I am talking about last evening's fiasco at the tapas bar/annex to SENDERENS, called Le Passage. My partner in crime, Austen,and I, being the hardcore gastronomes that we are, and looking for some time to kill while waiting for his girlfriend to finish some business, decided to find something to eat. As we were both tired after a very difficult week taking care of the world's rich and famous, and after having been inspired by the latest Figaroscope on luxury tapas in Paris (shame on them!) we went through a number of options, and decided on Le Passage. The entrance was pleasant enough, located in a side passage next to the main restaurant, it's tiny, winding stairwell suggesting a private club of some sort, like something off the set of Eyes Wide Shut. The dining room was pleasant enough, in a minimalist sort of way, and we made our way to the counter-top bar, happy to see that we actually already knew both head barmen from previous establishments. A good start. That actually turned out to be the only reason we stayed as long as we did. The menu, rather limited, was divided into different tapas, followed by suggested fixed menus with tapas, wine, and cigars. We tried pretty much everything, each dish, in hopes of finding something decent. The starter was sea bream and seabass sushi , four small pieces of (obviously preprepared) "sushi", cut very fine on a mealy rice bed. Austen and I, who had been so looking forward to as taste of two-star freshness, were sadly mistaken. We looked at each other in incredulity. For the first of many times during the meal. Next, we had the gambas in vermicelli, with a sort of sweet and sour dip, which Austen enjoyed, and I found overcooked, but still okay. Next, we had probably the best dish of the evening, the mackerel, served on a sort of bed of cole slaw , which was fresh and tasty, then followed the taster of tapas with scrambled egg with spicy chorizo , which was also okay, the inedible calamari , which was infernal, and to which I compared the cafeteria at my work (and believe you me, that's a stretch) , followed by the final dish, open shell mussels with jabugo ham, which was edible and relatively tasty. During all this time, we had numerous glasses of wine, which were good, with the exception of one red, which was totally corked. Dessert, which was offered after the staff realized that, despite our feigned efforts to give the impression that we were not experiencing actual gastric meltdown, we were not enjoying ourselves, was actually quite good, Senderens famous vanilla millefeuille

At the end we felt so duped, that we couldn't help laughing about it for the rest of the night over drinks at the Forvm Bar across the street, a 1930's jewel, which, lucky for us, was still open to soulage our gastronomically stricken bodies and souls.


Austen said...

It was mackerel, not haddock! Just goes to show what a memorable experience it was!

I'm quite surprised that you didn't mention the Buddha bar, though.

Adrian said...

That's what I said, bitch!

Christophe said...

I'm glad you went because i wanted to try it out after Figaroscope's latest review (shame on them) It's becoming more and more obvious that they're not 100% partial. (remember La Cuisine and Petit Champenois?)
When are we going out the 3 of us for a decent meal and not so decent drinking session?

Christophe said...
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