I was pretty excited to check out the new restaurant (and the first since 130 some odd years) at the Palais Garnier Opera House yesterday. It's been open since June 27th and for an establishment which (proclaimed from the rooftops by their PR people), combined cutting edge design by Odile Decq that "affirms the historic building's character" and a cuisine by two star Michelin chef Christophe Aribert, it wasn't that impressive. And even less at more than 100€ per head. The curtain of glass enveloping the front of the restaurant gave strangely distorted views of passing Asian tourist groups and the concentrate of traffic and pollution outside, however the the red-tinged interior with ho-hum furniture, a real let down for a supposed 6 million € investment did resemble the culinary character of the place, a sort of gastronomic equivalent of a Fiat Multipla (with all options). The menu is short. The portions are tiny. We were offered two, yes two! gougéres with our champagne (I was surprised they weren't doled out with white gloves and a pair of golden tweezers). The following "contemporary" smoked salmon with a mustard sorbet was ok, as was the trout, although as with the following Pata Negra pork chop (sprinkled with popcorn and with a honey sauce made from opera honey) , vastly overpriced. The oeufs a la neige in a red berry soup were ok as well. Just ok. When the server explained that they "opened too early" and that the chef "wasn't really in the kitchen, just a consultant" , it didn't really surprise. Clients all around were complaining about their bills. Noone seemed to be having a good time with phrases like "bof.." and "ho hum" being bandied about. The only ones who really seemed to enjoy it were the American tourists next to us being invited out by their French friends: eyes rolling in ecstacy, dribble running down their chin. What curiously deluded creatures!
"Thus begins the story of one of the most long awaited restaurants of all time" says the press release.
Smoked salmon with brioche and mustard sorbet
Pata Negra pork chop with popcorn, honey and side of polenta
Oeufs a la neige