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A Lunch at L’Etoile du Nord (Paris)

Quelle Mauvaise Idée !

Anyone passing through Gare du Nord shouldn’t miss L’Etoile du Nord, if only as a testament to how Thierry Marx’s molecular ambitions went the way of the Dodo, a sad compromise between what some call bistronomy and what any educated palate will call, the French way, “malbouffe”. Supposed to be “inspired” by the North of French cuisine, as mandatory in a place with trains to not only London, but Brussels and obscure places like Lille and Amiens, the place hailed itself as a revisited “Buffet de la Gare”, only with a fussy maitre d’, clueless waiters, vaguely George V-inspired sparce floral decoration, malfunctionning lightning in the toilets, cafeteria furnishing and, last but not he least, bland food. In a way, it’s a smashing success in recreating the impatience, the atmosphere and the poor value for quality of such places, but one doubts it was the initial intention.

Let’s focus on the food, should we? First was an oeuf mayonnaise, a bistro food staple which for some industrial reasons has been reduced to pulp by much lesser chefs. The eggs were too cold, the mayonnaise a shade of what it should have been and yes, there was tons of cheap aneth on top to cover for the rest. And it was only one starter.

The other one was a poireaux vinaigrette, which came with the consensual agrume dressing which the casual eater has been forced to associate with modernity. Bland, at best, and that kind of dressing is neither here nor there.

Main dishes were, first, a decent suprême de volaille appropriately cooked, served with a potato purée which should never be the highlight of a meal if you’re not Robuchon but yet was, instead of a discreet companion.

Second, quite a terrible fish & chips consisting of a big chunk of cod haphazardely fried, one side heavy on the stomach and the other still bathing in flour, served in a debatable version of the thing, without vinegar or salt and pepper to add some gustative substance to the generic fries coming in a fancy cornet.

To conclude with this embarassing interlude, dessert was an oversweet, cubic oeuf à la neige which must have been made early in the morning and bathing since in an over-vanillaed custard. Since the whole concoction was not sweet enough, there was some mollified pink pralines in the mix for your dentist surgeon’s downpayment on his next vacation to the Maldives.

Staff is in training before your very eyes. There is a waiting line even though a vast first floor remains closed. For anyone who went through the ordeal of landing at CDG and taking the RER train to Gare du Nord, this is a mandatory pit stop in the “I Hate Paris” circuit. Count roughly 30€ per head, then regret it.

With our Food correspondant Victoire V.

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