If the owner of the new Paris seafood restaurant and fishmonger La Reine Mer was fishing for compliments when my friend Cathy and I had lunch there the other day, he had no trouble reeling them in.
On the left side of the pretty, spic-and-span shop, he sells fresh, responsibly caught fish and some prepared takeout dishes. On the right is a counter where six people can eat while sitting on (sadly, uncomfortable) stools. Another counter will soon be installed in the window to provide more seating.
Anything fishy is very pricey these days, but I found the Reine Mer to be quite reasonable, especially considering the quality of the food.
My friend Cathy opted for the fixed-price lunch menu at €23 for three courses. She loved the starter that came with it: a terrine of vieille (a French vernacular name for various less-desirable fish, perfect for making dishes like this) with watercress and aioli. As an extra bonus, it was wrapped up in a coat of thinly sliced salmon.
Meanwhile, I was thoroughly enjoying my fish rillettes– light, fresh and jazzed up with coriander seeds – which paired brilliantly with the dark whole-grain bread.
My bliss was yet to come, however. That was the Wednesday à la carte special: risotto with clams and cockles. It was absolutely brilliant, with sparkling-fresh shellfish and stunning flavors. Admittedly, the rice was a little mushier than it should have been, having been partially cooked in advance (nothing can be hidden here, since the cooking is done right in front of you), but all was soon forgiven because it tasted so intensely good.
Cathy was not quite as ecstatic about her cod with endives à l’orange. It was fresh and good, just not as exciting.
For dessert, we shared a wholesome apple crumble, really a compote topped with crumble (thankfully not reheated, which makes crumble soggy).
La Reine Mer is brand-new and not very well-known yet – we were the only ones lunching there that day. That is sure to change, however, once it is discovered by the masses, so make sure you reserve. Then dive in without fear.