Valentine’s weekend, Paris’ most-popular restaurants are packed full of couples, literally cheek to cheek. Reservations are a must and, for the special occasion, most places propose a set menu with entrée, plat and déssert. As our tradition goes, we hopped on the metro and stepped through the doors of one of the city’s well-liked, yet out-of-the-way restaurants. L’Oga, a small and not-so-traditional dining spot in the 11th arrondissement, is young, trendy, and recommended by many city-dwellers and dining guides.
From the non-descript outside, you really can’t tell what kind of restaurant this is. As you walk through the doors and dark curtains draped at the entrance, you begin to understand that L’Oga is a funky cross between tradition and modern trend. The lighting is dim candlelight. The walls are covered with boldly colored contemporary paintings and handwritten chalkboards announcing the menu and wine lists- a décor full of edgy, eye-appealing contrasts.
We opted for the special Valentine’s menu (49 euros per person, not including wine). Although there were two choices for each course, we went true Valentine style and both selected: entrée- nage de St. Jacques au légumes et gingembre (scallops served in a light creamy sauce with leeks, carrots and ginger); plat principal- mi-cru de thon rouge au sésame et basilique, purée de carottes et patate douces au lait de coco (seared tuna with sesame seeds and pesto sauce, accompanied by a sweet potato, carrot and coconut milk puree); déssert- coeur coulant chocolaté, coulis pistache (warm chocolate dessert with creamy pistachio sauce). Also included in the menu: a cocktail of either champagne, rose, and litchi or champagne, vodka and raspberry.
Sounds good. What did we think? The atmosphere: fun and amorous, excellent choice for an evening en couple. The cuisine: Very satisfying (except for the scallops, which had obviously been prepared in their dishes ahead of time, as they were served too quickly after ordering and were already getting cold). The tuna was perfectly cooked, tender and quite tasteful. The dessert was also enjoyable, though the pistachio sauce tasted a bit bland. The service: Unfortunately, the service wasn’t quite up to par. Most of the waiters were friendly, but (except for the scallops) we waited too long for everything, from ordering to receiving the dishes- and the person who took the dessert order outright forgot about it. What was awkward was that the tables didn’t have one primary waiter, but a constant rotation of three or four different people.
All in all, we had a really enjoyable evening. I can’t put L’Oga on my personal list of favorite spots in Paris, though, mostly because of the service and lack of feeling completely at ease. What I did like about this restaurant is that it helped me get closer to answering my ongoing question: what’s French Cuisine, Today? This experience was a hint that modern French cuisine has undoubtedly been influenced by the larger international community- chefs nowadays seem to be taking traditional dishes and spicing them up with such exotic ingredients as sweet potatoes and coconut milk- a trend my taste buds find especially appealing.
Address: 82, rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud (11th)
Telephone: 01 43 57 60 15