Laïa Restaurant

Weather-Dependent Dining

September 30, 2020By Heidi EllisonRestaurants
Inside the restaurant Laïa.
Inside the restaurant Laïa.

I had been trying unsuccessfully for some time to get a reservation at Laïa, attracted by its good reviews and the online photos of its lovely garden and pretty interior. After four attempts, I was finally able to book a table for five on a Wednesday evening.

Laïa’s garden on a sunny day.
Laïa’s garden on a sunny day.

Just my luck, the weather turned that day. The rain fell and temperatures cooled, and we couldn’t take advantage of the garden. Not only that, but we were seated at metal garden tables in a sort of echoey glass winter garden in the back. When asked, the super-accommodating staff found us a table inside, where the sound was muted, but not enough, as we soon found out.

We all thought that the first courses sounded more interesting than the mains and ordered more of them than anything else. We were right.

Those cooked on the robata, a Japanese charcoal barbecue, were the most tempting, although it turned out that they didn’t have much of a barbecued flavor.

Grilled octopus.
Grilled octopus.

The first out was the poulpe (octopus), stunningly tender, with cacio e pepe (cheese and pepper in Italian) sauce. It was universally acclaimed by everyone at the table.

Swordfish with sauce vierge.
Swordfish with sauce vierge.

Also from the robata, the espadon (swordfish) with sauce vierge (olive oil, lemon juice and basil), was adjudged rather bland.

Eggplant with burrata.
Eggplant with burrata.

More popular was the eggplant with nutmeg and burrata sauce, although once again it was lacking the smoky flavor of the grill.

Beef with mint and blackberries.
Beef with mint and blackberries.

The robata-cooked beef with mint and fresh blackberries was perfectly cooked, tender and rich in flavor.

Chicken espetadas.
Chicken espetadas.

The chicken espetadas (Portuguese for skewers) was nicely spiced with lemongrass and paprika.

Crudo de bœuf.
Crudo de bœuf.

Off the grill, one of the best dishes was the crudo de bœuf, a carpaccio with burrata and borage sauce, an unlikely but likable combination.

Sea bream carpaccio.
Sea bream carpaccio.

Another carpaccio, of sea bream, was brought to vibrant life by a sprinkling of flavorful and hot-but-not-too-hot jalapeño powder and verbena leaves.

Meager with beans and samphire.
Meager with beans and samphire.

A couple of my friends had the maigre (meager) with coco (navy) beans and samphire; like the swordfish, it was deemed good but bland.

Baba au limoncello.
Baba au limoncello.

Of the three dessert choices, we all opted for the baba au limoncello, an excellent choice with its extra-fine limoncello sorbet.

The overall quality of the food in this “Mediterranean” restaurant was very good, but, as noted, some of the dishes needed a little more work to make them more interesting. The major drawback of this popular spot was the painfully high noise level, made worse by the addition of music.

What’s the point of going out to dinner with your friends if you can’t enjoy easy conversation with them? Unless the restaurant makes the necessary changes to protect the hearing of its customers, the only way to really enjoy Laïa will be to wait for the return of fine weather and book a table in that garden, a rare asset in Paris and even more desirable in the age of Covid.

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