"The evolving Francophile..."

My husband Jack has always wanted to live in Paris and learn French. I thought it would be good for him to achieve his life time dream. Hence, we moved to Paris in 2008. My first year was difficult. I started "missives" to relieve some stress and chronicle my life so friends back in the US could read what I am experiencing. I currently write about my food and travel experiences, which is my passion.

It is definitely a challenge to live here, but each year it gets easier, and quite enjoyable, in large part because I value friendships over locale. I have a love/hate relationship with Paris as do most Parisians, mais La vie est belle (but life is good)!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Manger -- Restaurant Review

24, Rue Keller
75011 Paris
Tel/Fax: 01-43-38-69-15
Rating Standards: 5-Stars = Extraordinary; 4-Stars = Excellent; 3-Stars = Average; 2-Stars = Fair; 1-Star = Poor
€ = Inexpensive: 30€ and under; €€ = Moderate: 31€-49€; €€€ = Expensive: €50 -75; €€€€ = Very Expensive: more than €76 (prices based on minimum 2-courses)
1-Bell = Pleasantly quiet (less than 65 decibels); 2-Bells = Can talk easily (65-70); 3-Bells = Talking normally gets difficult (70-75); 4-Bells = Can talk only in raised voices (75-80); BOMB = Too noisy for normal conversation (80+)

  2 - Star............................................................................................................................1 - Bell

We went to a new restaurant called, “Manger” in the 11eme. It’s only been open for a little more than 3-months.  As we first walked in, I was impressed. Whoever designed this restaurant needs to get an award.  There is a terrace and right behind the terrace is the bar, which I think is strategically and functionally located.  As you walk further in, you’ll notice there are 3-major focal points in the restaurant.  To your left is the dessert station, with the dessert of the day prominently displayed.   

Towards the center is a gigantic sun roof with one of the largest skylights I’ve ever seen. It’s beautifully arranged with banquette seating, and to the right is the open kitchen.  It is very modern, sleek, beautifully designed, and well thought out, we were quite impressed.  And, to make it even more attractive it is air-conditioned. That’s a major plus in Paris.

Now onto the food.  There is a lunch pre-fix menu. For 2-courses it was 25€, for the entrée, plat and dessert it’s 34€. And, they had the daily specials, which on this particular day was a tomato salad entrée and duck plat.  


Three of us got the “Heirloom tomato salad with chevre”.  OK, how difficult can it be to slap on some tomatoes, cream the chèvre and add a light vinaigrette.  While the tomatoes were delicious, it was truly a very dull, boring, uninspiring plate that my 10-year old niece could’ve put together.  The chèvre had very little flavor.  So, this entrée did not wow us at all.

One person had the Tartare de Maigre” marinated in ginger, soy sauce and a spicy oil. This was the only hit of the day. We all loved this dish, the freshness of the fish with the ginger. In most Asian cuisines, ginger is used to cut out the fishiness of the fish. But they did to basically add a nice flavor.

Rather than ordering a plat one person ordered one additional entrée, which was the Gaspacho d'Amande douche, compote de pêche blanche, huile de citronnelle”. The taste took me by surprise, and not in a good way. Since I didn’t see the menu, I had assumed it was regular gazpacho. So, I tasted it without knowing what was in it, and my first thought was, cold milk. That’s all I tasted  At first I thought it was coconut milk, since it had a nutty flavor, but it turned out to be almond milk. I really despised this dish. There was no peach that I tasted, and no citronelle, it was like they literally poured chilled cold milk in a bowl and called it a day.

Also, even by Parisian standards service was painfully slow, it took at least more than half an hour if not more to get our main dishes. In fact, one of our companions had to remind our wait person.  They're all very nice, but their timing is really off.


Two of us ordered “canard laquée  lacquered duck. It was the thigh and leg. It looked pretty enough, and was even blackened.  So I was really excited to taste it. As I bit into it my first thought was not only was it blackened, it was burnt salty soy sauce.  The soy sauce was reduced so much, especially on the skin, that it actually had a very, very salty burnt bitter taste. In fact, one of our friends could not finish the dish because of the saltiness. I was able to finish it since I did not eat the skin, but even the meat alone made me thirsty for the next several hours. It tasted like a very salty bad imitation of  "Adobo" .  

 It was accompanied with fried rice that any Asian housewife can make blind folded. It’s basically fried rice with oyster sauce, cubed eggs, chicken, baby shrimp and peas, very standard. Maybe exciting for non-Asians, but for me it was home cooking. It was the only part of the course I liked, since it was comfort food.

One person had the Curry rouge de cabillaud, Julienne de papaya, citronella riz vénéré.  Red curried fish with papaya and lemon grass served with wild rice. Oh my God, this dish was horrible!  It had such potential since the fish was cooked perfectly.  However, there was no red curry to speak of. The fish was floating in a sea of light creamy sugar that I detested. If you’re going to say it’s curry, then dammit add curry. It was so overwhelming sweet it distracted from the fish.  It definitely could’ve used some fish sauce and some citrus such as lime.  And since when does a red curry dish have no red color?


We had the tart of the day, which was a tart topped with cherries, lychees, raspberries and strawberries.  The group unanimously said it was just that. Not inspiring, boring save for the fresh fruit.

Then we ordered the Cherry Clafoutis. Again, it was just that, boring and uninspiring.

And, I had the cheese plate, which I liked. As I always say, you can never go wrong with cheese in France.


I wanted so much to like this restaurant, because it’s so beautiful, and it’s air-conditioned.  It is what it is. It’s the French trying to do an Asian fusion restaurant that went wrong. Where they missed was on some key taste elements.  They exaggerated a lot of the ingredients to the point it became inedible or did not put emphasis on a key taste element, e.g., reduced soy sauce on duck, or sweet, tasteless red curry.  If you’re going to do Asian-fusion, than add some stronger flavors and watch the salt. Since a lot of Asian cooking does use soy sauce or fish sauce, if not used properly it can really be a sorry state of affairs. It will probably be a hit with the French, but for Asians and more seasoned eaters, this just “ain’t gonna cut it.”

It’s only been open for 3-months, and maybe they’re still trying to find that key “balance” especially with the flavoring. Good luck to them, but I probably won’t go back until after a year of getting their “footing”.

With a 2-bottles of Premiere Vandage, 3-coffees, and a Coke, to add insult to injury for a mediocre lunch, our bill came to 188.50€ for 4-people, which is quite expensive for lunch!


  1. Well, that really is too bad. I love rue Keller, and wanted to love that almond gazpacho, too! Maybe they're still ironing out the kinks. Hope so!

  2. Even in Spain, where it is traditional, white gazpacho is boring. Nothing like the wonderful red type.