Everything was irritating about my experience at Joia, (Joy in Basque), the new Hélène Darroze restaurant located at the heart of “branchitude” just behind the Bourse, on rue des Jeûneurs (literally Fasting men). When I called, I was told I could only have lunch at 12 pm or 1.30 pm. So annoying this double service habit! So 1.30 pm is what I booked and when I arrived two days later, I was told there was no booking under my name. The young lady on the phone had mixed up the Thursdays… and reserved for the end of the month. This was particularly annoying since a close friend of the chef had urged me to go and taste the delightful menu.
Then I was seated at a high table and high stool, the sort of place you can never put your handbag anywhere and your feet don’t touch the ground. I hate it. This was downstairs in a very noisy room which calmed down around 3 pm and just next to the open kitchen. I could see a little green house in the courtyard where you can presumably smoke and nice hydrangeas hanging on the wall across the room from me. This cheered me up.
We then ordered some chardonnay which was served in ridiculously large goblets in very small quantity for 11 €. And the wine we were brought was not the wine we had ordered. When I politely told the waiter, he said, it’s much better and more expensive but I won’t charge you… ridiculous answer! I did not like the wine but there was so little to drink that It did not matter. I hear Hélène Darroze favors lady winemakers… A good idea maybe?
We then had a green bean salad and mushrooms with foie gras and an egg in the center. And both starters were absolutely delicious. The brown bread was a bit stale though. Dommage! bread is important in Paris.
We then had Mamma Léna’s green raviolis with tomato sauce, excellent, and neck of lamb confit with spices which reminded me of gigot de sept heures. I ordered polenta to go with it and potatoes were brought to me. The pretentious waiter obviously was not listening at all…
Dessert of Mille crêpes, perfumed with matcha tea and a cream of yuzu was slightly tasteless but pretty. We then went upstairs to check on the room where we had reserved but not gotten in, and it was ravishing with confortable corduroy armchairs and a lovely bar.
So the morale of the story is, double check that your reservation is confirmed for the day you asked, make sure the wine you order is in stock that day, and repeat your order so the waiter brings you what you asked for. Trendiness is not enough of a quality to erase all professionalism. But I suppose this is just rehearsal times and in a few months, everyone will have been trained properly.
You will then be fine in one of the talked about spots of the moment (it opened on September 5) and you might even enjoy yourself after you’ve looked at all the media people who are regulars. After all Hélène Darroze is Laetitia Halliday’s best friend! So who are we normal customers to complain?
Joia, 39 rue des Jeûneurs, Paris 2.tel: 01 40 20 06 06
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