Le Café Marly, Paris, is one of those restaurants that you desperately hope will live up to its reputation. There’s only so much research you can do when picking somewhere to eat – I personally am someone who scours reviews before settling – and I can wholeheartedly tell you, reader, that I was not at all disappointed. We had chosen to sit in the outside dining area and, frankly, who wouldn’t? Situated under lofty arches with views of the Louvre pyramids, there are few spots in Paris that would rival our table.
To begin, we had chosen the Japanese Edamame and the Avocado and King Crab Salad. If we’re being honest, there’s very little a restaurant can do to ruin edamame beans, but these were elevated above the standard fare. A hint of chili flakes and salt made them the perfect light apéro snack. King crab is one of those things, however, that is decidedly more difficult to execute. Maiken, who hails from the Arctic circle, was looking forward to seeing how it stood up against the fresh crab found in Scandinavia. For me, the crab was sweet and worked well with the avocado, the presentation was simple and clean and, while I’m never one to add citrus to my seafood, it was nice to see both lime and lemon wedges presented. Maiken found the citrus a little overpowering as it seemed that the salad had already been dressed (perhaps rendering the extra wedges unnecessary) but I felt that the balance was just right. In the heart of Paris, I think we can safely assume that the crab was not caught that day, but it was cooked to perfection. Having asked our waiter to recommend a wine, we went for a Chablis which suited both the sweet and sour crab salad and the fresh edamame.
For our mains we went for the Lamb Cutlets, served with Fine Green Beans and a Mint Sauce and the Seared Pepper Tuna Steak, served with Potato Purée and a Pepper Sauce. Again, the presentation was simplistic and sharp, a true celebration of the ingredients. The lamb was utterly delicious: the fat was rendered, crisped and the meat was pink and required minimum effort to slice into. Being English, the mint sauce was a little watery for me and lacked the rich punch to cut through the fattier parts of the lamb. Not something I would complain about but not necessarily something I’d write home about either. The tuna, my goodness, was absolutely perfect. That delightful sandwich effect of a just seared steak, pink in the middle with an almost smoked flavour to the exterior. “That” Maiken announced “is a perfect tuna steak.” If I were to really look for a flaw, I would say that the pepper was a little overpowering. Cracking into large peppercorns now and then took over my tastebuds and I can’t help but feel that had they been milled a little more, the experience would have been that touch more enjoyable. Now, I would rarely comment on the sides as, usually, there sort of a vehicle for the star of the dish, but the purée was unctuous and smooth, buttery and, frankly, heavenly.
To end, we decided to share our dessert as, despite the minimalism of the dishes, we were feeling quite full. One thing I will comment on here is that, though relatively extensive as a menu with a “something for everyone” feel, there are various items that are not made in house. This is mainly limited to the starters and desserts, let’s be fair and say that we cannot entirely expect a restaurant with the traffic that Le Café Marly has, to smoke their own salmon…but it was a little disappointing to have so few house-made desserts. That said, we chose the Rhubarb Soup, served with Fresh Seasonal Fruits and a Hazelnut Tuile, and my goodness(!) was it delicious! Not too sharp, as rhubarb often is, it was the ideal way to end our dinner. The tuile was an absolute revelation, offering a much needed crunch to the soft and sumptuous fruits. Honestly, I could eat it all day every day.