Saturday, September 02, 2006


For my last dinner before my trip to the States, R and I decided to try out a Bib Gourmand restaurant in the 2nd, Mellifère, drawn in by the reviews which raved about the classic dishes, prepared with the freshest ingredients and faithful to tradition. In short, we were very disappointed. For a 32€ fixed menu, we expected more, we expected better, and certainly not just "Red or White?" when we asked about the wine list.

We were seated outside on the terrace, which was great for a summer evening, except for when the garbage trucks stopped right in front. The people behind us made a big show about it, the woman holding her napkin over her face and waving her hands dramatically, trying to shoo away the stench, and their daughter pinching her nose and squeezing her eyes shut, but after about 5 minutes the smell had passed and my appetite had returned.

In spite of this temporary olfactory problem, the actual meal started out well enough. I started out with the gaspacho, which hit the spot. The way it was served was really cute, too: a mug filled with the gaspacho, and an empty bowl lined with herbed bread crumbs, so that I poured it myself. My only complaint was the quantity, which was very tiny even for a French restaurant, and seemed disproportionate with the enormous platter of charcuterie that R had.

The main meal was where we ran into problems. I had ordered the salmon, marinated in balsamic vinegar and served with homemade potato chips. I was served smoked salmon, plain and simple. With a smidge of butter and a slice of lime on the side, no homemade potato chips.

A couple of problems here:
- the fumé that should have been in the description was missing. But perhaps they had a totally different dish in mind, since the side had disappeared as well.
- Menu errors aside, who serves smoked salmon as the main course?!
- I hate smoked salmon.

I sat immobile, staring dumbly at the dish before me, wondering how I could have knowingly ordered smoked salmon for dinner. But R sweetly enough got up to talk to the waiter, doublechecked the menu (victory for the American! salmon filet with potato chips =/= smoked salmon), and had my smoked salmon whisked away and replaced with the quail. Not exciting, I know, but safe. Which was what I needed. R's dish was fine (I think it was steak...?), as was my quail.

For dessert I had brebis with black cherry jam, and R had fruit soup. Both were fine, but after the salmon mishap I felt like such a jackass I just wanted to get out of there as quickly as possible. In France you just don't send back dishes, even if there is a real error on the part of the restaurant. If I had been in the US I would've had no qualms about it, and I'm sure I would've been comped on drinks or dessert as a sign of the management's good faith. Not so here and I know it, but I couldn't eat the smoked salmon, and couldn't *not* eat it at that price, and so I felt like I had no choice but to send it back. This mishap aside, the menu isn't really that great (choice, quality, quantity) for 32€, and you can do better elsewhere. The young waiter we had was super sweet, though the older (queen) was snippy.

8 rue Monsigny
75002 Paris
01 42 61 21 71
M: 4 septembre



Delphine said...

Sorry your meal wasn't great. It's good to know the Michelin isn't always right though.

Etienne said...

small comfort :/ but at least I can warn all of you to stay away!

Anonymous said...

Every experience is different. My husband and I stayed at a hotel nearby and went to Mellifere for our first meal in Paris on our last trip. Everything was great. From the tuna tartar to the tarte tatin. We enjoyed it so much that we also went for our last meal of that trip to Paris and plan to go again when we return this fall.