Au Petit Riche
Oof. Is this place indicative of the death of the classic Parisian bistro? The restaurant is gorgeous; classic Paris down to the iced carafe of Vouvray and the faded, but marvelous, tilework. The waitress after taking our order, asked if we wanted anything to drink with our meal. And just as I was about to open my mouth and answer to order the wine, she turned and walked out of the room.
The first course (above) was good; a soft-cooked egg (€10), asparagus, and pesto with warm toasts. When they brought the main courses, my stuffed chicken breast (€19.90) with black trumpet mushrooms was rolled up like tekkamaki, sliced diagonally and upended, and the stuffing (and likely the chicken) was certainly made from all frozen or canned ingredients. It had zero flavor, and was served with what looked & tasted like canned tomato sauce that nothing had been done to, literally dumped out onto the plate, in a thin red pool. The peas served alongside were cooked to the point of resembling a wet copy of Le Monde.
My friend had bar (European bass), which came with the most unappetizing pile of long, long, long overcooked fennel that was army-gray. She pronounced it inedible after tasting one piece. I declined her offer for a taste. (How hard is it to toss fresh shaved fennel in lemon juice and salt, with perhaps a bit of anchovy and/or black pepper?) Her first course foie gras (€17.90) was very good (although hard to mess up), but couldn't redeem the mains.
As much as I want to ensure these kinds of places survive, they are shooting themselves in the foot by serving food marginally better than what is served on a coach-class flight. It really isn't that hard to make decent bistro food. Or am I missing something?
I'll eat almost anything if it's edible and when the waitress picked up the plates, she looked at them, and said nothing. Damage for 2: €80 (we skipped dessert...)