I booked a weekend to celebrate my sister’s birthday, and she also wanted to celebrate mine, as we had not seen each other since March. I obviously immediately started compiling a list of places I wanted to eat at. I knew Le Chateaubriand was top of the list and then there were several others, but as it got closer and I started attempting to make the bookings, I suddenly realized not just that some of the restaurants were closed but indeed the vast majority of the good ones were closed and sadly the list of places to go reduced to a much smaller one.
We were also having dinner with some of my sister’s friends on Friday and as there were five of us, walk-in places were out of the equation. Her friends cancelled two hours before on us – rude, as we could have planned something else… and gone to Clamato or one of the other no-reservation spots.
We booked a table at Grand Coeur Paris. One of my sister’s food obsessed friends had sent me a great list with ideas (unfortunately we did not have chance to try them all, and will be saved for another day), such as a new restaurant by Mauro Colagreco from Mirazur (who trained with Alain Ducasse and Alain Passard).
The restaurant is located in a cobblestone courtyard and hidden from the hustle and bustle of the touristy Marais. My sister explained that one of the most traditional dance schools in Paris is also located in the same courtyard but sadly we couldn’t spot any dancers as they were probably on holiday with all the other Parisians. The restaurant has two distinct personalities, the interior is cool and interesting and the outside is bland and white, but it was a lovely night and we decided to enjoy the fresh air.
The menu was somewhat simple and apart from our lovely host, Jose Ignacio from Argentina (who enjoyed practicing his Portuguese with us), service was sporadic and weak. The food took ages to come out and simple requests such as lemons for our waters or bread had to be repeated again and again – and my sister lives in Paris so we can’t even blame it on my weak French speaking skills.
The menu was low-key and simple and the dishes were not very inventive, which is ok, as long as they are well executed.
What we ate:
Burrata de Puglia with tomato marmalade and warm spinach: creamy and delicious. My sister ordered this with the tomatoes on the side (she doesn’t eat anything that has sugar after 10am and tomatoes are on the forbidden list). The burrata was perfect and it came served on warm but still brightly green spinach and pistachios sprinkled on top which made it somewhat more interesting and unique.
We consumed her marmalade with a good warm bread that they call “sharing bread” as a homage to the chef’s family tradition. The best part was a very lemony olive oil that was served with it. Thankfully, the bread was tasty and we devoured it as we were starving and our shared starter was left mostly uneaten.
Calamari salad with pickled carrots and onions, frisée and pine nuts: the calamari had slimy floppy texture and was overly fishy and strange. The veggies were too pickled and the only decent part was the two small morsels of frisée greens with pine nuts. We told our friend Jose Ignacio that we didn’t love it and he was very apologetic and nice.
Wild seabass with Sicilian caponata: sister’s order and she loved it. It was a very simple but tasty fish with a good caponata of aubergine, onions, peppers and tomatoes and raisins that were pushed to the side of the plate.
Beef tartare: a classic and it was good, but not amazing. We had to ask a few times where the fries were and the frites were a bit limp. The tartare was nice but didn’t blow us away and it came assembled and missed some of the mixing the egg at the table entertainment factor.
Fresh cod with sweet potato puree and chips and mushrooms: it was a delicious dish. Gorgeous piece of perfectly cooked fish with nice crispy sweet potato chips and a velvety, bordering foam type puree and nicely sautéed mushrooms. Very solid dish.
White chocolate Crémeux with yoghurt ice cream and passion fruit: we weren’t going to order any desserts as none jumped off the page and seemed very appealing, but Jose Ignacio sent us this. He may have felt bad about our starter or the little mice running around between the tables or about the very slow service. It was a nice gesture, but I don’t really care for white chocolate and despite my love for passion fruit and the hope that it would somewhat bring sweet memories of my childhood in Brazil, it was an overly sweet passion fruit reduction that was made even sweeter when consumed with the shite chocolate. Not even the yoghurt sorbet had the ability to counterbalance all the sugar…
In sum: the main courses were very well executed and service needs a lot of work. If you go, eat inside as it has way more character and personality (and no mice… which my sister and the waiters said was very common everywhere in Paris and even more so in cobble stone streets and courtyards). But nothing about the meal was compelling enough to make me want to tell friends to go or to rush back.
Scoring notes: service would have likely been a lot lower if it was not for our charming host. Setting inside gets an 8 but outside is just too plan, which lowers the average.
Grand Coeur Paris http://www.grandcoeur.paris/
41 rue du temple 75004 Paris
+331 58 28 18 90
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