Incredibly, the ground-floor shops of some of the prime real estate in the heart of Paris are still occupied by wholesalers selling clothing, leather goods and jewelry, which makes for a rather dismal atmosphere in the neighborhoods where they are grouped together. It seems inevitable that they will eventually disappear. In the Marais, they are gradually being replaced by art galleries, and around the Avenue Sedaine in the 11th arrondissement, the gentrifying process is also underway. One symptom is the new restaurant Coup d’Œil, which opened a few months ago.
It’s a small, pretty restaurant with curvy wooden panels on the ceiling and an open kitchen in the back. High tables and blue-upholstered stools are the only seating option, a choice that seems designed for discomfort (and perhaps to chase customers out quickly?). Popular in nearly every new restaurant a few years ago, the all-high-table approach seems to be disappearing, thankfully, or mixed with normal tables.
At lunchtime, diners have only one option: the €18 fixed-price menu (three courses), with two choices for the starter and two for the main course.
I started with a dish of feta cheese with oregano and honey. It doesn’t sound too thrilling, but the oregano was fresh, which changed everything, and the small amount of honey provided an appealing sweet counterpoint to the salty cheese, the fragrant herb and the pickled beets.
The main course, on the face of it, might not sound very exciting either: jarret de bœuf (beef shank) with mashed potatoes. It was the quality of the ingredients that made it so special and satisfying. The meltingly tender meat, supplied by one of Paris’s best butchers, Yves-Marie Le Bourdonnec, was so rich in flavor (with a slightly smoky cast) that I ate very slowly so I could savor it. As for the puréed potatoes, I thought the texture was a bit gluey at first, but the flavor of the potatoes came through beautifully and overcame my doubts. Just goes to show: quality really counts. I loved every bite.
Dessert was also simple and good: a pear crumble that avoided the pitfalls of reheating crumble and making it soggy by consolidating the crumble into a sort of thick, not-too-sweet biscuit. While it wasn’t my favorite dessert ever, it was once again made with excellent ingredients.
Apparently, in the evening, the restaurant is more about small plates and cocktails.
The name Coup d’Œil means “glance,” but this place is worth more than just a glance. I’d take a good look if I were you.