Restaurant Ogata, Paris

Where it is?

Ogata Restaurant is located on a quiet side street off the narrow throughfares of bustling Le Marais, in the oldest part of Paris. On the ground floor there is a small Japanese confectionary selling Japanese-inspired sweets.

The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner and is located on the second floor. In the evenings reservations are recommended.

The venue

The interior of the building is quite striking and unusual. It’s rather dark inside, but not gloomy. The decor is clearly in the modern Japanese style, with clean lines and simple, unfussed decorations

Guests on their own or in pairs sit at the long table which frames the kitchen. For groups of four there are also tables away from the action in the kitchen.

The staff & service

The staff are an interesting combination of Japanese and French. Most importantly, they’re very forthcoming, relaxed and friendly. They’re happy to explain the menu.

The experience begins with an unscented oshibori at room temperature.

Amuse bouche

The amuse bouche is a selection of broad beans in beef jelly, beetroot infused tofu and pineapple with a tahina sauce.

Entrée

For the entrée, my companion goes with the selection of seasonal vegetables cooked and prepared in various styles.

While I go with the lobster and cauliflower, served in a tahina sauce with watercress.

Owan – savoury Japanese flan

Then comes the Owan, which is a sort of egg flan served warm with fish roe and vegetables.

Selection of sashimi with salt, wasabi & nato

There are two pieces of three different fish for the sashimi course. The middle one is tuna. The other two I forgot to ask about.

First course – grilled Lotte with artichokes, spring onion & morels

The first course isinteresting, but perhaps a little greasy with the deep fried spring onions and the Lotte. But the taste is very good.

Second course – vegetable hotpot with black truffle & grilled Dorade

For the second course, I go with the vegetable hotpot and black truffles, which is very nice and light, making a sharp contrast to the previous course.

My companion has the grilled Dorade with fondant.

Kombachi – two variations of steamed gohan: first with pickled vegetables and the with baked Cod

To end the meal, two bowls of rice are served in sequence. The first serving is with pickled vegetables, daikon and seaweed.

The second is with two small pieces of fish & dried seaweed in a dashi broth.

Palate cleanser – Fresh Mango granita

To close the meal, we are brought a small cup of Mango granita. This is very nice and not overly sweet.

Dessert – Strawberry sponge cake

And then for dessert, we both have the creamy strawberry sponge cake, which is excellent!

Vertict

Overall, I really enjoyed the meal. It was well cooked and nicely presented. What’s more, I think the chef struck a nice balance in the way he integrated Western elements into the preparation of the very japanese dishes.

In total, the meal came to EUR348 for two persons. We only had sparkling water throughout the meal. Nonetheless, I think the price is reasonable for what you get.

Le Train Bleu, Gare de Lyon – Paris

Introduction

Le train bleu was the unofficial designation of a scheduled service provided by the Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-lits, who also operated the infamous Orient Express, that ran from Calais to the Côte d’Azur from 1922 on. The train got its name from its carriages’ blue livery.

Le Train Bleu was eventually terminated when travel became more affordable and demand for luxury travel gave way to mass tourism. What remains, is an excellent restaurant within the Gare de Lyon in Paris. And today, I am going there for lunch.

Le Train Bleu restaurant opened back in 1901 on the occasion of the inauguration of the Gare de Lyon in Paris. Originally, it went simply by the name of Buffet de la Gare de Lyon. However, in 1963 it was renamed to take its current name.

The restaurant’s interior is spectacular in the opulent fin-de-siècle style and really unlike anything I’ve ever seen in a restaurant. It looks more like a cathedral than a restaurant.

Access to the restaurant is via the grand staircase in the middle of Hall 1 of the main concourse of the Gare de Lyon.

The menu

The menu offers a wide selection of seasonal dishes that nicely showcase French cuisine.

The waiting staff

The staff at the restaurant are all very friendly and helpful. I think what impresses me most though, is a) just how many waiting staff are active in the restaurant at the same time, and b) just how nicely paced the meal is.

The meal

We begin with an amuse bouche of lightly smoked white fish on cream cheese.

For the starter I go for the lightly smoked salmon with seasonal pickled vegetables and blinis. The presentation of the dish is lovely, and the taste is excellent, with a nice variety of subtle flavours.

For the main course I have the quenelles à la Lyonaise. Quenelles are a kind of fish dumpling. They are served in a rich bisque infused with cognac and a side dish of grilled basmati rice. And lovely, crunchy French bread.

The main course is absolutely divine, and mopping up the bisque with the bread when I’m done has me making the most obscene moaning noises.

My travel companion has the grilled scallops, which are nicely presented and apparently taste very good. The scallops are served on a bed of chickpeas.

For dessert, I really just can’t resist and go for the crêpes Suzette. What a classic! At le Train Bleu the dish is prepared at your table, including the bit where they set the whole thing on fire with a healthy dose of Grand Manier. And this is just heaven. I shove a fork of the sweet goodness in my mouth and all the frustrations of the last two years are just washed clean off me. And all that remains is the zesty flavour of the orange juice combined with the creamy, buttery richness of the crêpes.

My travel companion has the chocolate fondant, served with creamy vanilla ice cream and an elegant hint of licorice.

Once I’m done, I do for a moment consider a cup of mint tea to round off the meal. But I’m running out of time. I have an appointment at the Louvre at 15h00 to see La Gioconda, otherwise also known as Mona Lisa, and I don’t want to be late. Luckily, I’ll be back in Paris next week, and already have another reservation at Le Train Blue, so perhaps I can try all the things I missed out on this time…

And tomorrow? I’m in Paris, and tomorrow is the start of the IATA winter time table. With that you can probably figure out what I’m up to next…