"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)!

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Cléo -- Restaurant Review

tel:  01 40 60 44 32
Metro: line 12 (Assemble Nationale), Line 8 (La Tour-Maubourg)
Check website for operating hours and menu

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 (70-80); 4-Bells = Can talk only in raised voices (75-90); BOMB = Too noisy for normal conversation (90+)

1.80 - Star....................................................€€........................................................ 2 - Bell

I was looking for a restaurant that was quiet and allow us to have a nice conversation since we wanted to catch up with our friends from the US, who sadly were leaving the next day. This restaurant is actually part of a hotel, which is ranked as a 5-star hotel. It appears I haven't had much luck with hotel restaurants, but I'll explain that later.

As we entered, the maitre'd asked Jack if he had a jacket underneath his overcoat. Jack was wearing  a "collared" shirt with a sweater. I didn't recall any dress codes. And, it got weirder as we wandered in. Our friends hadn't arrived yet so we entered the lounge area standing between the small lounge and restaurant, no one came to us to ask, "do we need help" etc. So, we left and told the maitre'd we'll wait outside, he did suggest we could wait at the couch available by the entrance, but we insisted on meeting our friends outside.

Once they arrived, we all entered the restaurant. I had to get the attention of one of the wait staff, finally I did, and we were the only ones seated in the dining area. Later, others entered, and NO-ONE was wearing a sports coat, including myself, except for our friend Lee. I thought it was odd that he would inspect to see what Jack had under his overcoat.

When I made the reservations online, I accidentally put the wrong date and made it for Sunday rather than today (Saturday), so I own this mistake. I thought for sure they were going to kick us out at this rate. It also required that I check off which menu we wanted online, so I checked off the tasting menu for 48€ for 3-courses. But when we actually got to the restaurant the tasting menu was only for the week-day. So, all-in-all a strange start.

Eventually after we were seated, our wait person asked if we were ready to order, we said no, then decided to order aperitifs. Even by French standards, it was slower than a snail's pace by the time we got our aperitifs.

NOTE: I'm only reviewing the dishes that I had and the dessert Jack had.

Waldorf Salad: Celeriac remoulade, apple, shropshire cheese, hazelnuts. This was a deconstructed salad. It had no resemblance nor any taste of a waldorf salad. First of all the endive were not dressed. They were basically plucked leafs from the bundle and strategically placed on the plate. Underneath sat the celeriac remoulade, and if there were apples, I didn't taste any. And, the the only flavor that came out was the cheese, a british cow's blue cheese that I liked. Very poorly constructed, lacking in any real flavors with the blue cheese the only flavor profile that came out.

Two others had the encornets (squid) appetizer and said it was very good.

Braised beef spare ribs, white kimchi, mash potatoes with nori. Where do I start? The beef was not even tender. It was a bit tough. It either needed to be braised longer or pressure cooked. Not much flavor. It sat on a bed of wet pureed potatoes, and that certainly wasn't kimchi, it was basically bland bok choy. Very sad looking and sad tasting food. Lacked any character or real presence.

Tarte du Yuzu. This was like a lemon curd with a crumbled crust and some very sweet meringue dollops almost like a marshmallow.  Yuzu is a Japanese citrus. Perhaps the yuzu enhanced the lemon (or perhaps some lemon enhanced the yuzu).  As Jack loves anything lemon, or even citrusy, he was happy.  But nothing out of the ordinary.

WINE Bernard Baudry Chinon. A wine made with cabernet franc which can either be light or medium bodied and often shows vegetal characteristics, in particular green bell peppers. This wine is sometimes incorrectly identified as an unripe Cabernet Sauvignon. I'm not big on red wines, but this was very light and quite nice.


This is quite a small intimate restaurant with seating for maybe about 20-seats. As I said earlier, I haven't had much luck with hotel restaurants, and this was no exception. The start was very strange. We have never had a maitre'd want to inspect what we had under our overcoat. And, when we entered there were some people who were very casually dressed? Although the wait staff couldn't be nicer, the service was erratic and painfully slow to start, even by French standards. But physically, the place is adorable and quaint.

Now onto the food.The food was like an afterthought. In fact, I'm starting to believe it's just there in case hotel guests get hungry and don't want to leave the hotel.  One word that describes the food, "FADE" in french, and "BLAND" in English. The waldorf salad was bizarre. All I tasted was the cheese and the bitterness of the endives. The beef for the main course was tough, and sat atop very wet mashed potatoes. Would I go back, or would I recommend it, ABSOLUTELY NOT. In fact, I was very embarrassed that I even suggested this restaurant to our friends.

With 4-aperitifs, 3-entrées, 4-plats, 1-dessert, 2-coffees, 1-bottle of red wine, and 2-glasses of white wine our bill came to little over 300€, so that's about 75€ a person.

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