What a shock to walk down the seedy Boulevard de Rochechouart during lockdown and come across a building with a beautiful Art Deco facade and a large, perfectly appointed brasserie visible through the window. Where had it come from? In all my years of walking through the area, I had never noticed it. As everything was closed at the time, however, there was no sign of life and no explanation. When I later found out that it is the restaurant of the just-renovated Hôtel Rochechouart, part of the Orso Group, I hastened to book a table.
My friend Carolyn and I were thrilled to settle into a corner table with a view of the whole dining room, with its elaborate white-painted moldings, deep-red velvet banquettes, traditional brass railings and fancy tiled floor. At 8 pm, it was still empty, but by 8:30, the place was full. With music playing and the volume of the room rising, it was still possible to chat fairly easily, although the background boom-boom of the bass, the only part of the music that could still be heard, became annoying.
Our server was pleasant in a professional way, and we relaxed with an aperitif of Lillet blanc while chatting, enjoying the decor, and studying the menu. The dishes were not classic brasserie fare and didn’t show much in the way of creativity, but that wasn’t necessarily a problem: all we asked for was great quality and execution.
I started with the cold pea soup with peppermint. The latter was not much in evidence, perhaps disguised by a rather heavy dose of vinegar. Otherwise, the soup was enjoyable, and I appreciated the crunchy croutons and whole peas floating in it.
Carolyn went for the daurade (sea bream) carpaccio, prettily decorated with Espelette pepper and scallions. She enjoyed it, but it, too, was a bit overseasoned with vinegar and salt.
My main course of pork belly had the promised crispy skin and a very thick layer of fat (I just found a website that claims pork belly fat is healthy, but that seems too good to be true; further research is needed). It was quite tasty, but I felt the need to leave some of that fat behind. The meat was served with grilled sucrine (a small head of lettuce; very popular in Paris restaurants at the moment) on top of a kind of corn mush with two of those baby ears of corn (the appeal of which I have never understood) on top.
Carolyn opted for another fishy choice: flash-cooked tuna with zucchini “caviar,” cherry tomatoes, fresh herbs and sauce vierge, which she was very happy with.
The desserts were in line with the rest of the food: very good but not very inventive. Carolyn had the crepe cake, which was what it sounds like: a pile of crepes, doused with créme anglaise (custard).
My big praline cream puff was delicious and had one nice extra touch: whole hazelnuts in the cream
Before we left, we asked to visit the rooftop bar on the ninth floor, with its amazing 360-degree view taking in the Sacré Cœur, the Eiffel Tower and everything in between. The pretty young server who took us up in the elevator warned us that there were absolutely no tables available at that moment and, in the next breath, said that reservations were not taken for the rooftop. We weren’t planning to stay, but we saw with our own eyes that there were plenty of tables available.
The impression I got was that the owners are trying to cultivate a beautiful-young-people vibe à la the Costes chain (where the staff also consists exclusively of good-looking young people, and less-than-attractive customers are shunted to the back of the room), not in the restaurant, but fairly certainly up there on the rooftop.
This is a place to be appreciated for its decor, where you will eat well without necessarily being overwhelmed with delight in your food. If you rate a table in the rooftop bar (snacks and drinks only), however, you will surely get some joy from the view.Favorite