"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)!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Cobéa -- Restaurant Review

Cobéa Restaurant

11, rue Raymond Losserand
75014 Paris
tel : +33(1) 43 20 21 39
Closed Sunday and Monday
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+)

  2.5 - Stars.................................................................................................1 - Bell

An online friend, John Talbott, who is now my "BFF", has a very popular food blog http://johntalbottsparis.typepad.com/ that I’ve been a big fan of since moving to Paris in 2008. He invited us to join him for lunch. I didn’t really care where we were going  for lunch, I was more excited to finally meet him in person.  He recommended Cobéa http://cobea.fr/en/since it was recommended by a friend, so it would be a new experience for all of us.

The restaurant was a concept from Philippe Bélissent, formerly of Laurent, Ledoyen, and Le Restaurant in L’Hôtel, and his partner, the maître d’ Jérôme Cobou, located close to Montparnasse. Recently opened, a little more than 2-months ago.

Black/Gray/White interior

Our reservation was for 12:30, and as we stepped in I noticed a very monochromatic color scheme of white, black and gray.  It was pretty devoid of any color, probably so diners can focus on the food.  The restaurant layout et.al. was actually quite nice, if you like that modern feel. It didn’t seem French to me at all.  And, they had an interesting glass floor by the bathroom where you could see the wine cellar below.

Glass floor overlooking wine cellar
John showed up shortly after we arrived, and our waiter gave us the menu and wine list.  We started first by ordering wine, primarily by price (cheapest), Rasteau Cotes du Rhone Villages, but turned out to be one of the highlights for lunch.

We pretty much all decided we were going to the pre-fix menu for 38€, which included the following:

Razor-fish; squid and parsley or Foie Gras; pan-fried, pasta and girolles
Cod Fish; cauliflower or Wild Young Partridge, caramelized chicory
 Desserts and coffee

Gimmicky hand wash


We got a small little white rolled up tube, what looked to me like a tampon, sorry if I offended any of my woman friends, but that's what it looked like.  Our waiter explained that we needed to plop into our glass, then use it to clean our hands.  And, as I did, it literally sucked up all the water.  I was curious if there was any lemon or alcohol in this hand wash, so being the crude person that I am took a sip of it, yuk, oh well, you can’t take me anywhere!

Chevré balls

Our amuse bouche was a croquette stuffed with chevré (goat cheese). I liked it, but it was deep-fried and who wouldn’t like something fried, n’est-ce pas?  Surprisingly, another amouse bouche came out and it was a teeny, tiny stuffed crab. I liked it because it tasted like crab. John is from Baltimore, renowned for crab, he mentioned that typically French crabs are not very good.  But for me, it was tasty, but I’m not a crab connoisseur.

Stuffed teeny-tiny crab

For our entrées, Jack got the razor back clams which was the highlight of Jack’s meal. He loved it, I tasted it, I don’t particularly care for “foams”, but it was extremely tasty. 

Razor clam
Foie gras with stuffed pasta

John and I had the foie gras, and the pasta with girolles.  The pasta was a small shell pasta stuffed with girolles and some type of unidentifiable meat. The pasta was not al dente, but rubbery. However, the foie gras was nice and seared on the outside and nice and tender inside.

Now here’s where we start going down hill, our main courses:

Jack and I had the Cod Fish and cauliflower. I have to say it did look pretty; however, I haven’t tasted anything so bland in a long time.  I would’ve even preferred it to be fishy over having no taste at all. It desperately needed some acid, lemon would’ve definitely given it some depth.  The sauce was also quite glutinous, almost “”cornstarchy”, if there is such an adjective.  We had to ask for salt and pepper. I must’ve doused so much pepper, the pristine white plate looked like someone splattered dirt on it, oh well.

John had the partridge. I had a taste of it, but it was a bit rubbery, and it was not very exciting.  John did ask for it to be on the more rare side; unfortunately, it was more on the well done side. For all I know it could’ve been a piece of overcooked chicken.

Interestingly, John uses a phrase called “U” meal.  Wow, I asked, “what does this mean?” Basically, the food is on a high then it starts declining and maybe goes back up again.  So, I asked if I could use this phrase, ‘cause I love it.


Jack was the only one who had a cheese course.  He had the comté.  It was accompanied by a sabayon (which he didn't want). I thought for sure it was going to be a sweet sabayon.  I tasted it, and it was not pleasant. It was savory and “salty” that could have been used on the fish.  I can’t imagine adding that sabayon to the comté, since comté already has a strong taste.  The cheese had “colored” sprinkles on top of it, according to Jack it didn’t taste like anything, it was just superfluous.  Well the red did give the restaurant some color at least.

Afterwards, desserts came:

It was an odd mix of very, very sour dishes and very, very sweet dishes.  I get sweet and sour in one dish, but this was a bit odd for me.

Spéculoos Mousse

For our first dessert we got a sorbet of lemon and ginger. I wanted to say, man this is sour, but my lips puckered up so much, I couldn’t even say the words.  It was one of the most sour desserts I’ve ever tasted.  The second dessert was a spéculoos mousse over a spéculoos cookie sitting atop some chocolate ganache. The mousse was very creamy and as you dug in and hit the chocolate it was a nice little surprise. I happen to like spéculoos, so it was good dessert for me.

Passion fruit

Then we got a plate of passion fruit (lilikoi) and some lemon tarts.  The passion fruit was just awful. I'm a tropical fruit, so I know my fruit. Whoever their provider is, needs to be fired. Passion fruit should be succulent, sweet, aromatic and make you want to be passionate.  All it did for me was make me bitchy.
Lemon tarts

The lemon tart crust was interesting, it was encrusted with “demara” sugar. I liked the crust part better than the filling.


This is an expensive restaurant for the type of food you get. For 3-people, the bill came to almost 200 Euros.  All of us gave the food a 2 over 5 score; however, I gave them credit for their service. The service was excellent, so I bumped up my overall score to 2 1/2 .  Would I go back?  probably not. Will it improve? I hope so, because they do have a great concept albeit a lot of clichés.  And, in their defense, they still are relatively new, so probably still refining their menu.


  1. "I'm a tropical fruit, so I know my fruit."
    I am so going to quote you to death. Bravo.

  2. What a great review! I love your mix of gorgeous photos with honest (and amusing) commentary. I got a sense of going through the meal with you -- and while I wouldn't have tasted that hand wipe at the beginning, I would have sniffed it for the same reasons! What I truly liked best is that you seem to approach the meal, and each dish, hoping for good things and celebrating what worked. It is disappointing when a meal doesn't live up to expectations: at least some of the dishes were tasty, and as you say, perhaps they'll improve. AT there was that inexpensive bottle of wine! Well done, Randy. -Alba

  3. They got a Michelin star, Very surprising. Maybe they got their act together in time for the review. Anyway, happy for them.