Elsa and Ryo spent 4 and a half days in Paris and had many food adventures. This one is focused on a Lebanese place we found.
Elsa, Ryo and Elsa’s sister were sightseeing in Paris during the day when they got hungry and tried to look for a place to eat lunch in. Walking through the Marais area, this Lebanese restaurant caught our eyes (and noses) so we decided to try it out.
This is a new branch of Al Dabké in the Marais district. Their main restaurant is in the suburb of Paris, Ivry-sur-Seine.
Elsa: The place was fairly small, but the interior was very clean and modern. The waitress greeted us and showed us to our table. Ryo and I sat on a cushioned bench against the wall whilst my sister sat on a chair. She found the chair to be slightly too high for the height of the table, whereas the bench sitters had no issues. I generally found the interior quite welcoming.
Ryo: I liked the interior of this place! It was clean and modern but the Arabic calligraphy art gave some nice ethnic touch. Oh and it might be a strange thing to say, but their restroom was like a cute Arabic dungeon. If dungeons can be cute, that is.
Elsa: The waitress spoke English and provided us with English menus. The lunch special was not in English, but as all of us enough French reading skills (particularly with food!) we were able to figure out what everything was. We agreed to order two lunches to share between the three of us.
Ryo: The lunch menu had the usual starter+main or main+dessert combo. As we wanted to sample as many foods as we could, we decided to go for one a la carte mezze and one lunch set menu – which was moutabal and dish of the day (fish sayadieh).
Elsa: I think we struggled to pick a starter for the lunch set and finally just settled on the tahini and roasted aubergine dip as we all liked aubergine. The pitta was ok and the dip was creamy and flavoursome. I found the pickles to be too sour, so didn’t touch this much.
Ryo: Since we ordered mezze, many items overlapped with their starter menu but you can’t go wrong with roasted aubergine dips, right? It was very creamy and I enjoyed it though I thought it would taste more aubergine-y than tahini…-y? Maybe what I imagined was baba ghanoush not moutabal. I didn’t like their flat bread though… I guess I shouldn’t expect homemade flat bread for this price. Levenshulme and Rusholme have spoiled me somehow.
Elsa: The mint tea was a nice palette cleanser between different parts of the meal. I used to dislike mint tea, but find it can be really nice depending on what food you match it with. I also really liked the teapots the tea came in.
Ryo: I love mint tea! Especially with this type of food. I know you are supposed to add lots of sugar, but I don’t do sugary drinks+savoury food combo so I didn’t add any sugar. It was still nice without it.
Dish 1 – Mezze
Elsa: There was a lot on the mezze, including the tahini and aubergine dip. If I had known this was going to be in the mezze, I would have ordered something different. The mezze was very nice, each individual part tasty aside from the cheese balls.
Ryo: I think most items they have in the mezze were also in their starters… so unfortunately it was somewhat unavoidable. As Elsa said, they were all very very good except labneh (Lebanese yoghurt cheese ball) which was too salty. All other items were nicely seasoned and balanced in flavour. Falafels were especially very good and crispy – much better than the much hyped “L’As Du Fallafel” in the Marais. Please excuse my rant, but I really really don’t understand why L’As Du Fallafel is so popular. They have one of the most tasteless, soggy, sauce-ridden falafels I’ve ever had in my life…
Dish 2 – Dish of the Day
Elsa: This dish was sooo good! I can’t remember what it was exactly, but I think it was some sort of fish curry? The toasted almonds on top were very nice and the fish itself was moist. The curry had a lovely flavour and the rice was cooked to perfection; I cannot fault this dish. I just wish I knew what it was…
Ryo: I didn’t remember what it was either, so I got Google’s help. I think it’s fish sayadieh. The sauce was delicately flavoured (with a hint of cinnamon and cumin?) but spicy. Yes, there is a such thing as delicately spicy food… and this one is the perfect example of that. Fish was moist and the toasted almonds and fried onions gave a nice texture to the dish. I could happily eat a whole plate (including the plate to savour the food) and some more.
Elsa: I quite enjoyed this place, the food was good and the people very nice. I definitely wouldn’t mind coming back here if I were to visit Paris again.
Ryo: I have a thing for (Elsa knows this…) ethnic food in Paris especially Lebanese, North African and Vietnamese food. But most places I tend to go are scruffy, street-food type so it was nice to try a clean/modern Lebanese restaurant. The price is very reasonable (12 euros for 2-course lunch menu) especially for the centre of Paris. So yes, I would definitely visit the place again. If they have that fish sayadieh again, I’ll be ordering two.
P.S.: I must add, just to capture the whole experience… We got talking to one of the customers of the restaurant – a French guy who spoke immaculate English. He could pull off many regional English accents from Irish, Scottish to American. I loved his confused look when I mentioned that Elsa and her sister are Irish (yes, surprise, surprise! Irish Chinese exist). Though that prompted him to give us a really bad Irish joke. Which I refuse to remember. And it wasn’t even a potato joke.
Address : 3 Rue aux Ours 75003 Paris, France
Their main restaurant is in 1 Rue Robespierre, 94200 Ivry-sur-Seine, France