La Fontaine de Mars -- Restaurant Review

La Fontaine de Mars

129, rue Saint-Dominique
Telephone: 01 47 05 46 44

Website: "La fontaine"
Rating Standards: 5-Stars = Extraordinary; 4-Stars = Excellent; 3-Stars = Average; 2-Stars = Fair; 1-Star = Poor
€ = Inexpensive: 30€ and under; €€ = Moderate: 31€-49€; €€€ = Expensive: €50 -75; $$$$ = Very Expensive: more than €76 (prices based on plats--main course)
1-Bell = Pleasantly quiet (less than 65 decibels); 2-Bells = Can talk easily (65-70); 3-Bells = Talking normally gets difficult (70-75); 4-Bells = Can talk only in raised voices (75-80); BOMB = Too noisy for normal conversation (80+)

  4 - Stars............................................. (a la carte)............................................1 - Bell

This restaurant has existed since 1908 and specializes in southwest French cuisine, (e.g., confit de canard and/or cassoulet). The restaurant is actually quite large, since there is also an upstairs area. It’s a typically Parisian styled restaurant. And, it’s one of the few restaurants that is actually open for lunch on Sundays.

There was originally suppose to be five of us for lunch; unfortunately, one of our friends had to go out of town unexpectedly and another was sick. But the restaurant didn’t seem to mind at all that we were going to be less than expected.

We started off with some aperitifs of kirs (casis and peche), while Just Jack had a traditional pastis. 

We perused the menu. They do not have a pre-fix menu.  And, although they had a Sunday lunch special of roast chicken with mashed potatoes (20€), and they also had their specialty of "confit de canard, and cassoulet, it just sounded too heavy at the time, so we opted for something different.

Tête de veau salad

For starters: Our friend Mimi ordered the tête de veau salad with potatoes.  We all tasted it and agreed it was really, really delicious, it was cooked beautifully.

Game terrine with fig chutney

Jack had the game terrine with fig chutney. This terrine was good, but nothing to write home about.

Poached egg with foie gras in a cream sauce

I had the special trio of bad-for-your-health poached egg, cream and foie gras.  Oh my God, I just died and went to heaven, but what a way to go. It’s difficult to serve a hot dish with a poached egg, because oftentimes the egg is overcooked and becomes semi-hard rather than coddled.  This was cooked to perfection.

Sea bass

For our plat, Mimi had the sea bass with leeks and with specks of truffles.  The fish was excellent, crispy skin and tender white flesh.  However, Mimi thought the leeks were a bit salty for her liking.

Black pudding

Just Jack had the “black pudding” (boudin noir) served with apples. Surprisingly, when you think of boudin, you think of sausage; however, it was served without the “casing.” I have to say, I really liked this dish a lot because it was the first time I had it served this way, and I’ve always liked foods with a crispy exterior and tender interior, which was the case for this particular dish.

St. Pierre fish with tomato confit

I had the fish “St. Pierre”, otherwise known as “John Dory” fish with a confit of tomatoes.  Loved, loved this dish. Very simple, but tasty in its delivery.

At this point we were actually all full for dessert, but opted to share a cheese plate of a nice hard sheep cheese, brie and a chevre.

And, the service was EXCELLENT! 

In summary, I liked this restaurant a lot.  Would I recommend it, “biên sur”, I would go back in a heartbeat. It’s not an inexpensive restaurant.  For the three of us for lunch the bill came to 193€, this included the aperitifs and 3 'pots' (jars) of their house wines, which by the way were excellent at 12€ a jar (maybe 50-60cl).


Address: 16-18 Place Gaillon, 75002 Paris
Nearest transport: L'Opera
Telephone: 01 42 65 15 16


Rating Standards: 5-Stars = Extraordinary; 4-Stars = Excellent; 3-Stars = Average; 2-Stars = Fair; 1-Star = Poor
€ = Inexpensive: 30€ and under; €€ = Moderate: 31€-49€; €€€ = Expensive: €50 -75; $$$$ = Very Expensive: more than €76 (prices based on plats--main course)
1-Bell = Pleasantly quiet (less than 65 decibels); 2-Bells = Can talk easily (65-70); 3-Bells = Talking normally gets difficult (70-75); 4-Bells = Can talk only in raised voices (75-80); BOMB = Too noisy for normal conversation (80+)

  2.5 - Stars............................................. (prix fixe menu)............................................1 - Bell

We went for a late lunch at Drouant. Prior to going, I read several reviews, and it’s pretty much all over the map.  With an open mind, I went and joined my regular foodie companions, Just Jack, Marie, Loui, and our new friend Wendy.

The restaurant has a lot of greenery on the outside and looks quite lovely. As you step in, the first thing that came to mind, it’s not very French.  It seemed more American than anything else, with its spacious rooms and very large individual tables.  In fact, it’s a little more upscale than our usual go to places for lunch.  I felt somewhat under-dressed, oh well.  The maitre’d immediately asked to take my jacket and seated me promptly.

Interior of Drouant
My accent must’ve been pretty bad, because they gave me an English/French menu.  They have a prefix menu for 44€. I was taking a photo of the menu, and our waitperson said I could keep it, how nice, but she told the others, jokingly I was the only one who could keep the menu. Flattery will get you everywhere.  No expenses were spared for the written menu. Very glossy and elegant looking. Almost like a fancy wedding invitation.

Glossy 3-part menu in English or French

They also have daily specials. And, being Monday, the special was a venison stew with celery puree.  For the pre-fix lunch menu, you could have the following:  for the entrée you could select a salad with bacon and eggs, or a consommé de canard. For the plat, you could order a canard poêlé, a rôti au jambon, or a veau.  And, for dessert you have a choice of a chocolat et praliné or a galette de rois, after all it is January…

We all opted to go a la carte.   

Langoustine bisque

Marie had the langoustine soup. I tasted it and loved it. It wasn’t as creamy as I anticipated nor as thick as most bisque are; the consistency for me was perfect and it had a nice strong langoustine taste. I could immediately tell that they used the whole langoustine to flavor the broth, because I distinctly tasted the “mustard” or as we say in the U.S. "tomalley."


Beet Salad

Jack had the beet salad, and he loved it, stating it was very, very good.  Wendy and I shared the “4-corners of the world” entrée, which consisted of lacquered shrimp with raita, falafel with sesame, steamed John dory, and a buffalo mozzarella with pesto and grilled pistachios.  It was a really nice combination of different flavors.  Net-net the entrées were good.

We had a bottle of "Chateau Ame de Musset--2007" at 58€, which the whole group loved. 

Now here’s where it gets interesting. Marie had the goose accompanied with a sausage. I tasted the goose and sausage. I liked the sausage, it was moist and tasty; however, someone forgot the  "braising 101" rule. Braising meat too long can turn meats into very dry and sometimes "stringy" meat.  It seems almost contradictory, since one would think that braising or boiling meats for long periods would soften and keep meats moist. On the contrary, braised or boiled meats should also be looked after, and once it's just tender, it should be removed. There comes a time when the meat reaches a "no point of return"; too dry and/or stringy. Unfortunately, the goose in this case was both dry and stringy.

Venison Stew

Loui had the venison stew. At first glance, it did not look appealing to me at all. I had a little taste of it.  I personally did not like this dish.  It was stewed so long that the wine actually became bitter and perhaps the wine used was a strong "oak" flavored wine which intensified its bitterness.  The meat was very dry and stringy as well. 

Melange of meats

Jack had originally ordered the blood sausage with a saddle of hare, but they did not have it.  So, instead he got a mélange of different grilled meats.  Jack felt it was just indescribable and just OK, nothing special and almost dull in taste and presentation.


Wendy got the scallops. She felt the scallops were great!

Pork Belly

I had the crunchy pork belly.  The large piece of pork belly was accompanied with filets of pork, which were actually quite good and delicious.  However, the large piece of pork belly which included the skin and a little bit of the fat was not as crispy as I would’ve liked and the fat was not as creamy as it could’ve been.  It should have been braised longer with maybe a little crisping of the skin under a salamander/broiler, or even fried. 

We all got a side of different vegetable casseroles accompanying our dishes.  A carrot and cabbage dish, braised endive, pureed squash and pureed turnips. And, later they gave us a fifth, which was a buttered creamy spinach which I enjoyed a lot. But I'm a sucker for anything spinach.

Accompanying side dishes
The portions were quite large, so we opted to forego dessert, and had coffee instead. But to our pleasant surprise, they gave us a few chocolate truffles with a confit of sliced orange.

In summary, it’s not a typical Parisian restaurant, and could literally be any place in the world.  And, that includes the food as well.  The service is excellent, from the maitre'd to the wait staff as well as the bus-people.  The entrées were hits; however, most of our plats were questionable. Personally, I was not boiled over by the food, it was just uninspiring, and just OK. , I was really surprised that the "braised" dishes were executed so poorly. As Loui stated, “I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it either.” However, at those prices I expected more.

The bill for 5 of us came to almost €300 which included 2 glasses of white wine and a bottle of red wine.

Would I go back? probably not. However, if you do go, Marie recommends trying the special order items such as the steak au poivre.


Garnier -- Restaurant Review

Address: 111, rue Saint-Lazare, 75008 Paris
Nearest transport: Saint-Lazare Metro/RER
Telephone: 01 43 87 50 40

Rating Standards: 5-Stars = Extraordinary; 4-Stars = Excellent; 3-Stars = Average; 2-Stars = Fair; 1-Star = Poor
€ = Inexpensive: 30€ and under; €€ = Moderate: 31€-49€; €€€ = Expensive: €50 -75; $$$$ = Very Expensive: more than €76 (prices based on plats--main course)
1-Bell = Pleasantly quiet (less than 65 decibels); 2-Bells = Can talk easily (65-70); 3-Bells = Talking normally gets difficult (70-75); 4-Bells = Can talk only in raised voices (75-80); BOMB = Too noisy for normal conversation (80+)

  3.5 - Stars............................................. (prix fixe menu)............................................1 - Bell

Garnier is literally across the street from the St. Lazare train station, which makes it easily accessible.

Oyster Bar
The front of the restaurant had a clear view of their “oyster bar.”  Oysters are extremely popular in November and during the holidays, after all December ends in “R”, which means oysters are ripe for the picking.  You can actually eat oysters any time of the year, but the best times are in the months ending in “R” primarily because European oyster spawn in the summer months and do not taste as good during that season. (see "Why buy oysters in 'R'?")

As we waited outside I watched the staff prepare the oysters being delivered to the customers.  Very clean, well organized and professional. It is a large 2-story corner restaurant. As we went in, I noticed that the restaurant had mirrors strategically placed throughout the restaurant giving it the perception that it was really much larger than it really is. It also helped bring light into the restaurant on an otherwise gloomy day. And, as you walked in you will see a fish tank filled with live lobsters for the picking.

We met John and Collette upstairs next to the window. We had a great table.  The place is very Parisian, but at the same time had a feel of a little more sophistication than the regular bistros/restaurants that I’m accustomed to, probably because of the size, and you don’t want to be looking at all their mirrors without being a little “cleaned-up.”

As we perused the menu, Jack and I decided to have the Menu at 39.50€ for 3-courses, a glass of wine and coffee, a very reasonable price for what you get.  This prix fixe menu gave you 4-choices for an entrée, 4-choices for a plat and 2-choices for desserts. This also came with a glass of wine as well as coffee.

Prix-fixe menu
On the table there was a little cup filled with spicy tuna.  At first it was suggested that it might have cayenne, I thought it was something different, but couldn’t put my finger on it, so we asked the waiter, and it was "espelette", which gave it that little kick. We all liked it.

Collette and John ordered à la carte.  Collette forgoing the entrée, while Jack and John had the shared a platter of creuses de Bretagne n°3 and Utah Beach n°3's – huître (oysters). 


I had ordered the Carpaccio de haddock à l'huile d'olive citronnée.  The carpaccio was very nice, it fact it was salted quite nicely, considering the greens that came with it were not salted at all, so it gave it a nice balance.

Condiments for the Huîtres

John and Jack both enjoyed their oysters, they were accompanied with plain rich butter, herbed butter, and an onion vinaigrette. 


As you’ve probably pictured by now, this restaurant is known for their seafood.  John ordered the sole.  It was very simple and nicely presented.  In fact, I commented that it was filleted quite nicely. John thought the sole was “terrific”, but was swimming in too much butter. I had a taste of it and it was very delicate and simple. Sometimes, less is more.


Colette had the bar. My first honest impression, it was plated very sloppy.  They did not do as good a job filleting it as they had done John’s sole.  As you can see from the picture.  It might even look downright unappetizing for the uninitiated.  I would have preferred it served whole than to look that messy.  I tasted a little bit of it, and again, less is more. I did notice Collette salted the bar, which I would have done too, plus added pepper and espellette, which was made available to us.

Jack first asked the waiter, which would he recommend, the dorade or the sardines?, the waiter recommended the dorade, I of course got curious about the sardines so I ordered that. Jack had the “filet de daurade grillée, carrottes à l'orange”, dorade nicely plated over glazed carrots with no other accompaniments. Jack said it was very good, but lacking in portion size for both the fish and the carrots. I tasted it, and that was probably the one fish I loved the most of the 3 I tasted.

Sardines grillées

 I ordered the “sardines grillées, condiment à l'anchois, caviar d'aubergine.” This dish is not for everyone. Typically, this fish is deep fried which crisps up the bones which can then easily be eaten. Although, the bones can be eatened, it is more difficult to eat when not fried. I like the taste of sardines, and I had no problem de-boning the fish, but a part of me wanted to be able to eat the bones and the heads, which I wouldn’t recommend doing with this preparation.  It was a tasty dish and the accompanying anchovy sauce I loved.  Again the dish is not for everyone, since it is a strong tasting fish.


This is the part of the lunch I found very strange.  Three of us got these small copper pots of e.g., rice and aubergines. First of all, it look extremely unappetizing, secondly I found this presentation strange, as if almost to say, "we can put ugly things in cute copper pans and make it look pretty and get away with it", not!  It was strange. And, my aubergines were not particularly tasty. It was mushy and just not pleasant.

Mousse au chocolat

For the desserts, on the prix fixe menu you had two choices: Mousse au chocolat or Riz au lait comme autrefois, crème angalis et financier.  Collette ordered a warm pear tart.

OK, let’s start with the mousse au chocolat, I have one thing to say, WEIRD, OK, maybe another word to say, WEIRDER!!!  It was the oddest mousse au chocolat I have ever had anywhere in the world. It was like eating fluffy meringue with a hint of cream and maybe, just maybe, a hint of chocolate, if you close your eyes and imagine. Even the color was off. If it had more sugar in it, I would swear it came from a Las Vegas buffet!

Pear Tart

Colette thought her tart was "lacking in flavor", and expensive at 14€. So, looks like the desserts were misses. 

Would we go back? probably. I found there were  a series of hits and misses. The service is excellent, although they forgot to ask whether I wanted a glass of wine that accompanied my meal, but at that point I really didn’t want any more alcohol.  Our bill, with two bottles of great wine  was 232.50€ for 4.

Always fun and an adventure going out to lunch with John, and we had a great time meeting Colette. Can't wait for our next eating adventure.

A la prochaine!
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