There’s nothing lovelier than a stroll along the Seine in the shadow of Notre Dame, bouquinistes and charming ruelles everywhere you look. Until, that is, it’s time for lunch, when you can feel stuck between the Scylla of overpriced, underwhelming tourist joints and Charybdis of Michelin-starred outfits where the price of the bread basket makes you want to weep quietly into your eau pétillante.
Thank goodness, then, for the extremely prolific, multi-Michelin-starred chef Guy Savoy’s outfit, L’Atelier Maître Albert, which neatly hits the mid-way mark between quality and price. Sure, the uniform dark grey exterior and the garish paintings on the walls inside smack slightly of a hotel lobby, but you can’t fault the bottle-lined front bar, the cute private dining room, and the long main salon with a vast stone wood-burning fireplace at one end and an open grill at the other, which together fill the space with delicious smoky scents. Lunchtime menus are €26 for two courses or €31 for three, and there’s a seasonal set menu at dinner for €36 – an absolute bargain for cooking of this quality, even more so in this area (there are more pricy tasting menus too).
On our lunchtime visit, cheery staff brought a simple salad of tender leaflets topped with a generous handful of creamy, nutty chicken livers, nicely seasoned and ever so slightly pink in the middle. The other starter was a seafood pastilla – fine, flaky pastry wrapped around a rich mussel filling and framed with swirls of creamy mash and julienned celeriac. For main courses, tender slices of beef came with a scattering of red cabbage, the whole swimming in a potent jus guaranteed to put you into a post-lunch slumber. Fillet of sea bream came cooked just to point of flaking on the fork, its skin properly crisp, with a cocotte of orange-scented fennel on the side and a dense, sticky orange compote with sesame seeds that suited the winter season.
Pudding again showed a pleasingly broad choice of flavours – on the one hand, decadent slices of praline and chocolate crisp, and on the other a zinging, candy-pink grapefruit compote. All in all, a lively seasonal selection of dishes in a wonderfully atmospheric venue. Bravo.
|Venue name:||Atelier Maître Albert|
1 rue Maître-Albert
|Opening hours:||noon-2.30pm, 6.30-11pm Mon-Wed; noon-2.30pm, 6.30pm-1am Thur, Fri; 6.30pm-1am Sat; 6.30-11.30pm Sun|
|Transport:||Metro: Maubert - Mutualité or Saint-Michel|