Great value for money at 10 euros less.
Pros: Good-quality, well-cooked food; pleasant, quiet atmosphere; no space problems.
Cons: Prices a bit high.
Chez Catherine has taken a bit of stick from the reviewers in recent weeks, and in a sense one can see why, as it is much of a muchness with the likes of L’Arôme and ETC, which both have their Michelin stars now. The smart brown decor is there, as is the supremely professional service. And a staff of three beavers away in a fishbowl kitchen.
Perhaps part of the critical non-acclaim is nostalgia for Chez Catherine when it was Chez Catherine in Rue de Provence, with Madame C in her kitchen, refusing to let her lunchers in before half after midday, regardless of the weather, and a reasonable wine list dug out by the husband (all this information was kindly supplied by my lunch companion).
But Catherine and her other half have retired, and the restaurant has moved and gone aspirational.
I found nothing to carp about when it came to the food: I had the €37 lunch menu, which offered marinated fresh salmon followed by roast guinea fowl with an en-suite Grand Marnier soufflé glacé. My companion, who ate à la carte, just to see, felt I had gotten a better deal with the prix-fixe. His fricassee of snails starter and veal blanquette main dish were deemed a bit pale in comparison and needed to be jazzed up with the condiments.
He says I’m too easy on the chefs. I say it was pretty good in terms of quality, cooking and presentation. But here’s the rub. The meal would have been great value for money if it cost 10 euros less. Not that that matters one iota for the folk eating as guests of people with company expense accounts.
We had a very nicely made bottle of generic Syrah from the Domaine de la Bastide, which was the cheapest tipple on the wine list, but none the worse for that.
Chez Catherine will make its money from the smarter businesspeople in this part of town and should certainly not disappoint in terms of quality, but for this luncher, it’s a tad on the expensive side for what you get, and I would be unlikely to cross town to go back there, although I probably would return if I wanted to have an intimate lunch with someone after attending a show at the nearby Jacquemart-André Museum.
Chez Catherine: 3, rue Berroyer, 75008 Paris. Tel.: 01 40 76 01 40. Métro: Charles de Gaulle Etoile. Nearest Vélib stations: 177, rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré; 31, rue d’Artois. Open Monday-Friday. Fixed-price menu: €37, à la carte: €50-60.
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