Is the tide turning away from meat-heavy menus in Parisian restaurants? The Verre Volé, a meat lover’s paradise, recently opened Le Verre Volé sur Mer, a fish-and-seafood-only bistro, and the sublime Septîme has a fabulous fishy offshoot called Clamato. Now the owners of Astier, Jeanne A and Jeanne B have opened La Marée de Jeanne just off the Rue Montorgeuil.
It came in very handy last Monday, when we wanted to celebrate a friend’s birthday but had trouble finding a decent restaurant that was open on that benighted evening. La Marée was a good choice, with its happy, friendly staff, an open kitchen just inside the door and a cheery white and deep-blue-sea decor with sunny splashes of yellow and lots of mirrors.
That wonderful invention, the half-portion, is available for many of the dishes on the menu. We started by ordering four of them to get a feel for the place. We had six excellent no. 3 Isigny oysters, followed by the “Conserverie,” a
concoction of red-pepper cream, peas and marinated sardines, which sounds a bit weird but was delicious and full of subtly contrasting flavors and textures. The razor clams in a nice fishy broth were a delight. The least popular of our starters was the petite friture (fried smelt), which was oversalted and mixed with too-chewy fried vegetables.
Of the three main courses, mine was definitely the most popular. It was a dish the two Jeanne restaurants are already known for: lobster
croque monsieur, with pieces of lobster on thick slices of toasted brioche coated with a thin layer of melted cheese. I recommend this surprisingly good treat.
Although Helen, who likes her food plain and hearty, was put off at first by the trendy mustard foam on her cockle-stuffed salmon (it
was supposed to be haddock, but the kitchen was out of it), it clearly grew on her.
Chris, the birthday boy, had the “Bonne Mère,”
a deconstructed bouillabaise, which he pronounced “good but not amazing.” He especially enjoyed the bowl of flavorful crushed potatoes with tomatoes, capers and olives that came with it.
“Good but not amazing” is a fair description of
the desserts, although I thought my dish of strawberries with olive-oil ice cream was pretty delicious. We also sampled the meringue with berries and rhubarb and the “Tradition,” little puff pastries filled with pistachio cream and accompanied by a sweetened stewed cherry tomato – a surprisingly likable extra touch.
For a taste of the sea without risking bankruptcy, I can recommend La Marée Jeanne as a good, if not spectacular, addition to Paris’s school of fishy restaurants.