Natacha - Forget About It

Mortstiff & Co. never walk into a Paris restaurant tabula rasa. We know better. So we pore through our restaurant guides (a topic for later, don't worry!) and then pick a likely winner. So Friday night, our guides led us to the Restaurant Natacha in the 14th (Montparnasse). Nary a negative comment online or in our guides, so we expected some high quality cuisine. What we got was exactly the opposite. The food was uninspired. No let me correct that, Uninspired, with a capital U. Other than a complete absence of creativity or imagination, here are some additional gripes:

  • the ever-present music, how shall I say, sucked. Pop rock about as uninspired as the food - the sort of music you might hear on a tacky French radio station - need I say more? (Another topic for later, restaurant background music - if not carefully chosen, why bother at all?)
  • when asked whether we wanted our coats checked, I muttered, 'nah, it's OK'. The next thing I know, we were brought English menus - an embarrassment to one avidly trying to speak the local language. And French is Co.'s first language!
  • an entree of 4 gambas (large shrimp), on a bed of lettuce. So what?
  • my main plate (magret de canard - duck slices) arrived; Co.'s fish did not. With much consternation, the waitress and server returned to our table and informed us that the fish was not ready and would take 10 more minutes. They were nice, they took my canard to keep it warm. Two minutes later, here it all comes. Despite their warnings that my plate was flaming hot, the duck was tepid at best. In this corner, a carrot puree. In that corner, a few cubed potatoes. In that corner, some salad. All bland, bland, bland. Ditto for Co.'s fish.
  • average dessert for Co. My coffee arrived with three little cakes - free dessert, can't complain.
  • Wine: I was quite impressed with an initial page on the wine list - reasonably priced and a decent selection. When brought to the table, our 14 euro selection was a half bottle! No wonder the prices were reasonable, I hadn't seen the 37,5 liter indication at the top of the page. The first time I've seen a restaurant devote a page to demi-bouteilles, but I should have looked more closely. Returned it for the full bottle - twice the size, twice the price.
  • This uninspired meal clocked in at 108 euros. For 20 more euros we could have had a Michelin meal at the always imaginative Les Magnolias in the 'burbs.
So why are all the guides and online reviews so praiseworthy for Natacha? The answer, chef/owner Alain Cirelli, who revitalized Natacha about 3 years ago with his good taste and creativity apparently sold the place a few months ago. So throw away your Zagat, your Michelin, your Pujol, whatever the hell you use. They're out of date.

Note of interest: Some scenes from Jean-Luc Godard's famous film À bout de souffle (Breathless) were filmed in the street where one finds Natacha.

75014 PARIS

Overall note (out of 10): 3
Ambience: 7 (nice room, but like I said, the background music sucks)
Food: 3
Price (over, under, average): Way over for the quality
Service: 5 (young, attentive, but speaking English at the outset blew it for us)
Forget About It

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