Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Chez Michel - Ze big disappointment
Last minute dinners always get me. In my day job or as gastro consultant for my friends and colleagues, no problem, a perfect table is always found. When I'm trying to find a place for myself for a nice night out, however, always the eternal dilemma, the soul searching begins. I find the perfect idea, I change it, I worry if my friends will like it, I question my desires, my cravings. I think of the previous weeks web and food press, various recommendations, tables I'd like to try and haven't. All this happened to me again last night, when confronted with having to find a place to dine for myself. Where? Passage 53 went to last week and had a marvelous lunch. I wanted something new. Or something I'd never tried. I thought of KGB, but the massive recent press made that impossible. ZKG, the maison mère didn't answer the phone. I thought of Krung Thep, my fave Thai, but felt like French. La Grille, an eminently old school establishment, was fully booked. Villaret, Chéri Bibi, Fidelité, Sardegne a Tavola, Kiku all came to mind. And faded away. We decided on Chez Michel. After all, why not, the proto-bistronomique is every Parisian gastronomes fave for it's 32€ menu and well turned out food.
Last night was different. When entering the restaurant, the usual chaos ensued: waiters rushing around, and being shouted at. Locals mixing with Dutch and English tourists, clutching their recent (but outdated) editions of Time Out and Fodors, having trekked out to this far flung corner of the city for their gourmet graal. The same menu at 32€ for three courses and a blackboard highlighting other more complicated/elegant dishes, with their pricing supplements. Game had , as always, a prominent place on the menu, and the lievre a la royale looked to be the choice for my dining partners and I. But with a 25€ supplement! We soldiered on and ordered. The starter of pate en croute of gibiers and foie gras with it's accompanying herb salad from well executed and good (supplement 5€), followed by the royal hare, which was entirely uninspiring. A smattering of tasteless, odorless shaved black truffles covered the dish, and my friend Philippe had another , unexpected supplement: a plastic film covering his lievre. The server was shown the dish and he said, simply, "Oh that's there to shape the dish on the plate". Even when another large piece of plastic was found on the plate, no reaction, no apology. Chef Thierry Breton didn't even bother stopping by, except to suggest a pricey, though good Domaine Gramenon Pascale. Funnily enough, he wasn't even in the kitchen, which seemed to be manned by Japanese stagiaires..
So word to all you Parisian foodies and cued up gastrotourists: Chez Michel seems to have passed its sell-by date. Move on to new gourmet pastures.
Lievre a la Royale
Lievre a la Royale avec plastique