January 25 2013
If you know Paris well, there are certain subjects that may have realised that I haven't talked about.
One such topic is the food truck phase, another are the new gastrobars. Well, until now, that is.
I've been to the Frenchie wine bar, I've been to the Avant Comptoir, I deliberately have chosen to bite my tongue.
This evening, Friday, I finished work late and (surprisingly for me) had little desire to cook. (Probably something to do with the fact that my morning wake up was set an hour earlier than normal in order to recipe-test a new idea I've been brooding over for the last few days.) Going to a restaurant was definitely in order, something nearby, but nothing too fancy, nothing too expensive, and somewhere fun to go. Thus it was that I set off for La Rallonge, the new-ish gastrobar, next to the Table d'Eugene in the 18th.
I can understand why there's so much hype. Geoffroy Maillard has earnt himself a glittering reputation and I'm not going to attempt to detract from that. La Table d'Eugene is also somewhere I enjoy going to (although given the price, I don't go there all that often.) The idea of trying small portions of those delicious flavours and textures at a smaller price point was therefore highly appealing.
Upon pushing open the door and stepping inside, my first reaction was how beautiful the people were, how sleek the space, and, err, how very busy the bar area was. The long table by the window didn't have a single person on it, but the bar was buzzing. I finally suceeded in getting the waitress' attention, but as she so eloquently put it, "non."
Turned back out into the cold, I was hit by a sudden deja vu. Because, you see, this isn't the first time I've tried to secure a spot there. They don't take reservations so it's just a question of trying your luck. I rolled the dice a few weeks ago, on a weekday, but just as this evening, it was packed to the rafters. I don't know about you, but for me, when it's cold, when it's not a pleasant neighbourhood to be strolling around in, I like knowing that a table or a spot at the bar is waiting for me. I would never made a rendez-vous to meet someone there because it's just to hit and miss. In this case, I only live a few minutes walk away so it wasn't too far, but still it got me thinking.
My prediction is that this gastrobar trend will be short-lived. Once we bloggers stop talking about them to our largely anglophone expat/tourist audiences, unless the bar becomes a favourite local hang out, they'll be over. Am I just too old and grumpy, but why would you set off for somewhere you haven't got more than a 10% chance of getting into?
As for me, I'll stick to my local African or Thai or Chinese restaurants for when I want to eat out. The thing is I'm a foodie. I'm on the search for good food, the freshest food, the best seasoning - If something tastes good, regardless of price, regardless of cuisine, regardless of how many people have told me to go to that particular restaurant, I'm going to be a fan. Being a foodie doesn't mean that you also have to be a socialite and equally, because you're a socialite, you don't have to have an opinion on food. Sometimes the lines get blurred, but let's try in 2013 not to forget that.