A few copies of the French-language version of the children’s book Elmer the Patchwork Elephant by David McKee sit decoratively on the hat rail at the new restaurant Elmer in
the third arrondissement, but according to our waiter, the name has nothing to do with the book and was arbitrarily chosen after long reflection.
Elmer is the bobo restaurant par excellence, with all the standard accoutrements: blond wood tables, open kitchen and designer lighting. It’s attractive and pleasantly spacious.
Our waiter seemed rather overbearing at first, more interested in selling us an apéritif than handing over the requested menu, but he grew on us, and we quite liked him by the end of the meal.
One immediately obvious drawback of Elmer is that there is no set lunch menu; it’s à la carte and rather pricey all the way. They did offer a more reasonably priced (€18) plat du jour, but it was already sold out by the time we arrived at 1 pm!
The first courses were a great start, as colorful as Elmer the Elephant’s patchwork skin and the pretty plates they were served on. For my friend, cooked and raw beets with smoked herring and, supposedly, tarragon granita,
although we detected no trace of it. The smoky flavor of the herring made the dish. Mine was mullet with yacón ( a South American root)
and bergamot, all wrapped up like sushi in seaweed, with some fish eggs on top. Without the bergamot, it would have been rather bland.
Against my better instincts, I ordered a main course of chicken, something I can actually cook well at home, but for once it wasn’t a
boring choice. Cooked on the rotisserie, it was succulent, with crispy, flavorful skin, better than my friend’s pork, which was fine and nice
and tender but not very exciting. The accompanying vegetables – roasted parsnips, romanesco broccoli and cabbage for mine, and salsify and carmelized endive for his, were cooked to a turn.
For dessert, we shared the chocolate ganache
with salted caramel sauce and “cottage cheese” flakes. Luscious and intensely flavored.
With our meal, we sampled a “natural” wine, Le Bout du Monde’s 2013 Hop’Là Côtes de Roussillon, a big hit with both of us.
Elmer is a welcome new addition to the neighborhood. Too bad about the lack of a fixed-price lunch menu. They may be paying a price for it themselves: the restaurant was half empty when we lunched there on a Friday.