"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, July 19, 2018

Baieta -- Restaurant Review

tel: 01 42 02 59 19
Metro line #10 (Maubert - Mutualité)
Check operating hours on website
Website: https://www.restaurant-baieta-paris.fr/

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+)

4 - Star......................................................€€€......................................................... 2 - Bell

At a friend's recommendation we went to Julia Sedefdjian's restaurant, Baieta in the 5eme. I am very familiar with the Chef's work. I was first introduced to her cooking at the well known French celebrity chef Christian Constant's restaurant "Les Fables de la Fontaine" in the 7eme. Please refer to my review "Restaurant review--Les Fables de la Fontaine"

Shortly after we went to Les Fables de la Fontaine, Chef Julia won a Michelin star.  At  21-years old, she was the youngest women in history to win, refer to this article,  "Michelin star awarded to Julia Sedefdjian". Afterwards, she opened her own restaurant Baieta.

The restaurant is centrally located in the 5eme, close to the Seine. As you enter, it looked very simply styled, but cozy. Although they did have air conditioning, for some reason they didn't have it on. They did however have a fan close to our table that we could use. As I mentioned in past posts, as a general rule the French have an aversion to air conditioning. The fan and sitting by the open door may have been a factor in our trouble hearing each other, so I'll let this pass.

MENU. The menu looked really interesting. A little bit pricey, but they did have a pre-fixe menu of 29€ of an entrée and plat (dessert not included) of their recommended  dishes, which today offered a gazpacho, and a choice of beef cheeks or fish.

I sent a note earlier to say that one of my friends is a vegetarian, apparently they didn't get the message, but they were able to quickly modify the dishes to make them vegetarian.

And, they had an "Initiation" menu, sort of like an introduction menu or tasting menu of some of their dishes of the day, which I eventually decided to do. But I asked for cheese instead of a sweet dessert, which they easily changed out for me.

NOTE: I am not going to review all the dishes we ordered, since I had the mini-tasting menu, but will provide a brief summary of the dishes below.

AMUSE BOUCHE. Although it was just that, a complimentary amuse bouche, this was my least favorite dish. It was a focaccia topped with caramelized onions ala "pissaladière" a French pizza of onions and anchovies found in the south of France. I found the bread portion to be quite dry around the edges. My friend who was a chef and I both surmised that they must've left it out too long, which created a dryness around the exposed area of the focaccia. I think they need to get rid of this dish or replace it with something else.  But my compliments to the chef as the waitperson indicated that one of the pieces was made without anchovies to accommodate our vegetarian. 

The focaccia was accompanied with a broth of tomato and celery. The flavors were intense, but not "trop"--too intense,  and distinctive and quite good. We were told to drink it after the focaccia, we decided since the focaccia was so dry we'd have it with it. And, it worked out well. Our guess is that they either boiled the vegetables down to get the intense flavor, or dried and reconstituted it, to get the intense flavor.  Regardless a very good broth that I could've continued drinking.

ENTRÉE, Gazpacho.  This soup was really refreshing. It was a soup made of watermelon, tomatoes and balled cantaloupes, what we believed to be a dollop of the soft center portion of burrata cheese. It did have a little saffron, which we all liked.

I absolutely loved this dish, although it sounds complicated, it really isn't and for a warm summer's day, perfect for the body and tastebuds. A hit.


NOTE: I did have 2-plats since I ordered the "initiation" menu.

Fish.  Our wait person told me that it was a "Saint Pierre fish", which we know as john dory fish. The fish was accompanied by a fennel mash, with a thick creamy broth with a taste of saffron. It was served along side with an aioli butter and toast also with a dab of saffron.  Let me just say I loved this dish. The fish was perfectly cooked and all the flavors blended well to compliment one another. Even though it was accompanied by a creamy soup base the flavors were distinct and crisp.  I would definitely have this dish again.

Beef cheeks. Although the beef cheeks did not look very attractive because of the long braising, it was absolutely delicious. The beef cheeks were so tender and had just the right amount of fat that prevented it from drying out. It was accompanied by creamy pureed carrots and crispy sweet potato chips so you had the juxtaposition of something smooth and creamy and a crispy textural element. This was my 2nd plat so unfortunately I wasn't able to finish it, because I was already getting full. In retrospect I probably should've just gotten 3-courses, since I'm really not that big of an eater. Anyway, this dish was a hit and will be a hit for any carnivore.

DESSERT. Cheese. I try to stay away from sweets so I asked them to substitute the sweet dessert for a cheese plate, which they easily accommodated. They had a wonderful combination of cheeses for me: aged gouda (surprising since it's not french), camembert and blue. With it came confiture of rhubarb as well as an orange compote. It was accompanied with what looked like a sweet/savory toast of pistachios and dried fruit, which I've never been fond of because they remind me too much of dried fruitcake. Regardless the cheese was delicious. Like I always say, you can't go wrong with cheese in France.


1. Octopus
2. Vegetarian (melange)
3. Skate fish

Although I was not able to taste the dishes others ordered, they did all give me an overwhelming thumbs up. Especially for the Octopus and the skate fish.

Mignardise. I'm not sure if these little cakes were trying act like a yeast cake used in baba rhum. My guess is they were made with baking powder. Personally I found them very sweet and way too heavy and dense after such a big meal. But then again, I'm not that fond of sweets anyway.

SUMMARY. "I've always been a big fan of Chef Julia when I was introduced to her cooking in Les Fables de la Fontaine." I went a few more times and found it consistently good. With the exception of 2-insignificant courses, the amuse bouche and mignardise, the food was excellent. The tomato/celery broth was intense, refreshingly clean and cool. The gazpacho reflected a nice summer soup with fresh melons. I had the surf and turf, and both the fish and the beef cheeks were delicious and I would definitely have them again. Would I go back, ABSOLUTELY!

Now to the service. That's a different story. Although the wait staff were very nice, they really didn't seem to be fine tuned with the food. For example, one person asked for a "lemon pressé", she said OK, what came was water with lemon in them? I had pre-arranged a vegetarian meal, but no one got the message. I had to ask for ice 3-times to 2-different wait-staff. And, our gazpacho was served, but we had no spoons, so had to ask for spoons?

So, overall, I would've given it a much, much higher rating if not for the service being erratic, and not for the insignificant dishes of the amuse bouche and mignardise, which I've discounted in this overall review. As I always say, dining is about the whole experience.

For 3-prix-fixe menus, 1-initiation menu (tasting menu), 2-a-la-carte dishes, 2-bottled water and 2-coffees our bill came to 229€ or 45.80€ per person.

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