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Enjoy a pint on the patio at the 104’s immense neo-brasserie.
Exposed piping, metal lamps, salvaged schoolhouse chairs, tiles and a bar counter the length of a train: the industrial allure of Le Grand Central, the Centquatre’s second culinary venture, is undeniable. Like its namesake, the venue is stately, sprawling and somewhat overwhelming. Those who don’t enjoy wide, empty spaces can dine on the more modest terrace, which gives onto the Rue Curial. Calm reigns here, in a little courtyard sectioned off from the pavement by flowerpots. The zen patio is perhaps the main appeal here, as on weekday afternoons the ambiance is non-existent in the vast and sparsely populated interior.
The menu, designed by Claudio Episcopo, is too pricy for what it has to offer: pleasant but unimaginative dishes. To start, we grazed on an assortment of traditional French hors d’oeuvres (€7.50-€12): pork and parsley terrine, baked egg, burrata and a plate of mezze. Mains offered include Cajun chicken, hanger steak and salmon à la plancha (from €13-€18), although we opted for the cheeseburger, which scored points with tasty strips of red cabbage and a fresh sesame bun. Nevertheless, it was a little too heavy (even for a cheeseburger!) and the accompanying fries were small and greasy. Salads (€11-€13) are things like the ‘Bobo’ with quinoa and kale, the ‘Primavera’ with green asparagus and edamame, as well as the classic chicken Caesar. Although we did appreciate the eclectic dessert menu (which included verbena panna cotta, Japanese coconut pearls, Liège waffles and American cheesecake), the cheesecake was a big disappointment. For €8.50 we expected something truly outstanding, but what we got was a pretty mediocre specimen.
Ultimately, we could have foregone dinner altogether, content with our half-pint of Chouffe, Demory Nova Noire or a glass of Côte de Thongues (just €4.50 at lunchtime). We’d stop back in for a drink on the weekend when the place is fuller, but for dining we prefer the 104’s humbler outfit: Camion à Pizzas, an excellent food truck parked in the courtyard off Rue d'Aubervilliers.
5 rue Curial
|Transport:||Metro: Marx Dormoy, Stalingrad, Crimée or Riquet; Bus: 519|
|Opening hours:||Tue-Sun lunch from 12noon; Wed-Sat lunch from 12noon, dinner from 7pm|