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One of the cars of the famed Orient Express, on show at the Institut du Monde Arabe. Photo: Eric Tenin of Paris Daily Photo.

 

Restaurants - Contemporary

 

La Gazzetta

gazzeta-restaurant-paris

La Gazzetta has a chic bistro decor.

Pros: Classy, romantic, cozy setting; interesting menu; adventurous recipes for a good price

Cons: Recipes sometime a bit too adventurous

What luck for a last-minute fix: my dining partner had a late meeting in the 12th arrondissement, and my job was to find some where to have a simple supper somewhere nearby after the rendezvous. Having trawled the lists of restaurants recently recommended by friends, I came across this one in the right part of town… and they were willing to take us at 10 p.m.

When we arrived, a quick glance at the seven-course set menu and the chic dining room indicated it wouldn’t be a simple supper; but we were already intrigued and excited by what lay ahead.

After a warm welcome, we waited for a while at the huge old bar while the busy staff got our table ready and took in the relaxed atmosphere in elegant 1930s Art Deco style with warm lighting.

The restaurant offers a choice of either a five-course (€39) or seven-course (€52) menu du soir. If that seems a tad imposing, there are a couple of demi-portions, which on the night of our visit were homard Breton et radis (€22), which made my mouth water at the thought of it, or demi pigeon roti et aubergine (€16). Five courses seemed a reasonable option for the curious.

La Gazzetta’s exciting wine list including a good selection of Spanish, Italian and Corisican bottles. We went for one of their préférés du moment, a 2009 Carignan Blanc, recommended to us as “excellente, mais particulaire.” It was very enjoyable indeed. Wines by the glass start at €3.90 and bottles at €19. There are also several Proseccos in the bulles section, which I have noted for my next visit.

And now the feast. The first course for me was the best: a stunning sardine broth with fresh pasta, radishes and nettles making a green layer at the bottom of the bowl. It looked a little pondy when disturbed, but it was delicious.

Next up, perfectly grilled, fleshy hake, cooked with onions, grapes and bacon. It was good, but something in the mix had a rather tart taste.

The third dish was (purposefully) overcooked white asparagus with crisp griddle marks and a bright yellow egg yolk atop. A very pleasant seasonal treat.

I was getting full by the time the spring chicken with potatoes (described as P.D.T. de Noirmoutier, which were undercooked), lovage and botargo (treated dried fish roe) arrived; and it was at this point that I felt La Gazzetta was being a little overambitious. Their selection of relatively unusual ingredients was an attraction, but I’m not sure they got it right every time.

Finally, dessert. Fitting La Gazzetta’s spirit of indulgence, two very pretty desserts arrived at the same time. Cool, firm bites of sugary cucumber and rhubarb, with a slice of milk tart (flan du lait), accompanied, on a second plate, by delicious strawberries with a rather bland white chocolate sorbet. A nice idea as a palette cleanser, but after such a feast, the strawberries alone would have been enough.

We sat on the terrace for an espresso while recovering from our overindulgence. The coffee arrived with a selection of excellent petit fours, which were probably wasted on us at that moment.

Although La Gazzetta was trying too hard occasionally, I do look forward to returning, but next time better prepared for a serious meal.

Editor's note: Just after this review was published, we heard through the grapevine that chef Petter Nilsson was planning to return to his native Sweden, so expect changes at La Gazzetta. Watch this space for a new review.

Fiona Cameron

La Gazzetta: 29, rue de Cotte, Paris 75012. Métro: Ledru Rollin. Tel.: 01 43 47 47 05. Open Tuesday-Saturday for lunch and dinner. Fixed-price menus: €39 (five courses), €52 (seven-courses). lagazzetta.frlagazzetta.fr

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