THIS RESTAURANT HAS BEEN REPLACED BY SUR MER.
The decor is great fun, except for the uncomfortable stools.When the original Verre Volé opened on the Rue du Lancry in Paris’s 10th arrondissement some 15 years ago, it was a tiny, funky place with a wonderful feeling of bonhomie, basically a wine shop with a few tables where you could sample its selection of natural wines (it was a pioneer of this trend) with a plate of superb charcuterie or cheese or a plat du jour cooked up in a toaster oven behind the small counter. You were almost sure to strike up a conversation with the wine- and food-loving people sitting next to you.
Now the original restaurant has expanded and is more professionally run (no more toaster oven) but less surprising and enjoyable.
Luckily, owner Cyril Bordarier has had the good idea of opening a branch down the street specializing in fish, Verre Volé sur Mer, another tiny place with a convivial ambiance. In this case, however, the decor is more studied, with fishy wallpaper, handsome wall and floor tiles, and designer cast-iron stools at the one central high table and the six places at the bar. Unfortunately, these stools were not designed for comfort; the seats are small and hard, and they are attached to the table and cannot be moved.
After noticing that drawback, my friend Cathy and I quickly forgot about them and turned our attention to a more serious matter: the food. We were there for lunch, a simple repast with a Japanese touch: that day’s menu offered a choice of two starters (miso soup or a spring roll), a bento main course, and two dessert choices. As usual in these cases, we ordered everything.
The miso soup had a twist: no tofu, just chunks
of seasonal parsnip and scallions, the latter a great flavor enhancer for this soothing soup, but the real thrill came with the delightful
spring roll. Light and refreshing, it had a perfect wrap, not the least bit chewy, and was filled with marinated eggplant, soba noodles, pear, carrots, red tuna and fresh mint. It came with a delicious dipping sauce made with caramelized onions, soy sauce and rice vinegar.
The wholesome bento consisted of tasty raw bonito with soy/ginger sauce; wild rice; lettuce
from Annie Bertin (famed grower of organic vegetables); Chinese cabbage marinated in lemon; cream of cauliflower; a salad of lotus roots, lentils and tiny potatoes; and red coleslaw.
This light but satisfying meal culminated in two sublime desserts, made by a certain Nathaiie, according to the menu. The chocolate
mousse was a chocolate lover’s dream; although it was pale in color, it had a deep, dark chocolatey flavor and was light and creamy. The other dessert was very different but equally good: chestnut-flavored tapioca paired with chocolate and hazelnuts.
We were worried that the meal would drag on because chef Maori Murota, who was working in front of us at the counter, seemed to be preparing each dish on the spot as the order arrived, but that was not the case; we were served promptly.
My only complaint is that the soup and the bento rice were not hot enough when they were served. Otherwise I enjoyed it all. The waitress and chef were both very sweet and accommodating, and I had a lovely glass of Cheverny with my meal.
The reviews for dinner at Le Verre Volé sur Mer, with a different chef and a completely different and more varied menu, have been mixed – mostly raves, with a couple of pans – but I look forward to going back and finding out for myself.Favorite