"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)!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Mobilis in Mobili -- Restaurant Review

94 Rue St. Denis
Paris 75001
tel: 09 53 58 97 13
website: www.customseafood.fr
Metro: Line 4 (Etienne Marcel)
Note: book online at "La Fourchette"
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+)

3.25 - Star......................................................€€ ......................................................... 2.5 - Bell

This is very new restaurant, in fact, so new that there was still plywood laying around and while we were dining, restaurant equipment was being delivered.  It's a large restaurant, and it is a seafood only restaurant. We went for lunch, and they did have some great lunch specials reasonably priced. For examples "moules et frites" for 12€; that's even less expensive than the restaurant chain "Léon de Bruxelles" which is known for their "moules et frites"

The set-up was very interesting, functional to a point.  Your table has a raised shelf the width of a bookcase shelf to use for accoutrements. Unfortunately, it was set up really high so depending what you place on the raised shelf e.g., wine bottles, you couldn't see your friends seated across from you. Had they lowered it maybe 10 inches, it would been more conducive for conversation, and also there'd be less fear of knocking over a bottle of wine.

The menu is interesting, they have a few prix-fixe meals (set combinations), but they also have a section where you can order seafood individually and make your own platter. All you do is check the different items you'd like and manner of cooking. There were just too many choices for me so I selected the "Le Plaisancier du jour" (The Yachtsman of the day), while my two companions selected "Le Moussaillon du jour" (The Cabin Boy of the day).  JJ, being the adventurous eater he is, found something on the menu he had never seen (violet de mer) so he added that to his Moussaillon combination.  And J, who does not like Couteaux (razor clams) asked if they could skip that on his Moussaillon and maybe substitute another oyster or something which they said they would.

One of our companions had a crab bisque starter. We all really liked it. It wasn't thick and heavy like most bisques are. Don't get me wrong, it was rich, but didn't have that abundantly creamy heaviness associated with bisque. However, it did have a nice heaping of crème fraîche to add richness, if you wanted.  Overall, it was a really good bisque.

I have to say, we had a nice variety of seafood from oysters, shrimp, cockles, mussels, and razor clams just to name a few.  You got 3-accompanying sauces: mayonnaise mustard, mayonnaise espelette, and a vinaigrette.  I did ask for some hot sauce, and our wait person said that these were the sauces, so I guess they didn't have any hot sauces. Overall, it was a nice selection.

For dessert my two friends ordered a fruit bowl and a "cafe gourmand".  The fruit bowl, was just that, a nice bowl of fresh fruit without any adornments or sauces, fresh and simple.

The cafe gourmand included a caramel ice-cream, a chocolate macaron and a small chocolate tart, and a shot of espresso. All good, but nothing out of the ordinary.

For the wines we had a "Muscadet Sevre et Maine sur Lie" which is a staple of white wines from the Loire Valley. And, it's a very light, fresh, and lemony wine with lots of acidity. And, we had a bottle of "Cuvee imperiale Saumur Champigny" a red also from the Loire Valley, that has a richer fuller taste. And, some describe it has having "flowery" notes.


As I mentioned, the restaurant is very, very new. They have not ironed out all the kinks. The menu is very confusing. Our first wait-person knew the menu quite extensively, so I imagine that he was probably the manager and/or owner. Our second wait person didn't have any clue about the menu. She really needs to bone up because she couldn't answer any of our questions. When our original dish arrived, I asked if it was everything we ordered or just one of the orders. She said it was all our orders, which turned out not to be the case, cause another waiter came with 2-other orders.

The quality of the seafood was excellent, and the price point was also excellent. In fact, in retrospect, I should've ordered the smaller dish. The "Le Plaisancier du jour" was a lot of food. You can pick and choose as well. The table seatings would've been more functional had they just lowered the shelf by about 10-inches. The restaurant has a funky pleasant vibe.  Many of the tables, like ours, are in what might be considered a mini 'stateroom' or booth, giving a sense of privacy.  The location of the restaurant however, is right in the middle of the section of the rue St Denis in the Les Halles area of Paris.  The menu and the final 'invoice' are quite confusing; even the staff admitted that.

The menu, while confusing, is really quite a feat.  All individual seafood items to make your customized platter are a base price of 2.50€ times a minimum sized order; obviously the number of items (eg oysters) or weight (eg mussles) in an individual order vary.  Examples: Huitre special Utah #2 (you get 1 oyster) = 5.00€ (2 times the base price), Huitre fine claire #4 (you get 2 oysters) = 2.50€ (1 times the base price), Moules 500g = 5.00€ (2 times the base price), violet de mer 200g = 15.00 (6 times the base price), etc.

Bottom line, for the amount of food and the quality of the seafood it was half the price that you'd pay at e.g., "Le Dome" which is known for their seafood.  The service, although pleasant, their timing was really off, and one of the wait staff was clueless about the menu.  I would go back, but I'd wait until the dust settled. I would've given it an average rating, but what bumped it up was the quality and price of the seafood.

For 1-entree, 2-plats (14€), 1-plat (32€), the addition of the violet de mer, 2-desserts, and 2-bottles of wine the bill came to 146€ which was then reduced to 117€ to include a 20% discount since we booked online on "La Fourchette."  It was not obvious on the invoice about the reduction because the bottom of the bill showed the detailed regular price and somewhere in the middle of the bill was the reduced price.  It would have been easy to pay the amount on the bottom of the bill.

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