The dining room at Le Mazenay.
Le Mazenay is one of those restaurants whose success you hope for because the people who own it are so adorable but that you worry about because of the large number of empty tables.
The reason for that is not that the food is bad. Au contraire! The food we had there recently was more than ordinarily good.
As far as I can tell, the reason for the empty tables has something to do with the fact that the restaurant has not received many reviews, that it is located on a quiet street in the Marais and that there is something grim and unappealing about the barn-like space, with its dim lighting and dull furnishings. The last-mentioned could easily be fixed by getting a good designer in to give the decor a cozier feel.
The French chef, Denis Groison, has worked for some of Asia’s palace hotels, including Raffles in Singapore, but named his restaurant after a village in his native Burgundy. His wife is the charmer who runs the dining room.
I started out with brioche aux escargots de
Bourgogne, a sort of snail sandwich. The brioche was lovely, but the snails were distressingly scarce. The other starters on the table were a plate of six plump, fresh oysters
and another of charcuterie, about which there
were no complaints but no special raves either.
For the main course, three of us had the
“hunter’s” Parmentier, made with partridge, sweetbreads and liver, with the meats all ground up and topped with a layer of perfect mashed potatoes, browned under the grill comme il faut. Rich, delicious, filling and satisfying. It came with a nicely seasoned salad of mixed greens and herbs.
The two others had another hearty autumn
dish: succulent chicken served at the table from a cast-iron casserole with a lovely, mushroom-filled gravy.
One of my dinner companions had been obsessed with the chocolate dessert on the menu since the beginning of the meal, asking a number of questions about it. The owner explained that the Marou chocolate mentioned on the menu came from Vietnam and was used in all the best hotels and restaurants in Asia. Four of us were tempted by the tart made with
it and were rewarded with a rich, warm dessert. Some of my companions thought it wasn’t chocolatey enough, but I found it deeply
so. Another friend had the lemon cream dessert with a citrus salad and meringue, which was fine but rather paled next to the chocolate tart.
Dining at Le Mazenay was a lopsided experience, with the better-than-average bistro food and charming service not quite outweighing the dreary ambiance. Improving the latter could turn it into an attractive neighborhood eatery.