Last Sunday, The Boy and I set out to enjoy lunch somewhere in the South Highland/East Liberty area. We first tried Typhoon. Closed on Sundays. I checked my blackberry for the hours at Paris 66 Bistro, the new French darling of the East-Side food scene. It was about 1:20 and the Paris 66 Bistro website said they were open until 2 for brunch. Score!
As we approached the restaurant, located at 6018 Centre Ave, a sign outside announced that brunch was only being served until 1:30PM. Hmm. A few parties stood in the narrow entrance to Paris 66, so we joined them. The narrow entrance also houses the open kitchen. We watched a man make thin crepes. Yum.
The place was quite crowded and I could see a patio out back. The whole place is done in dark wood and warm and cheery yellow tones. I liked it.
Luckily, we were seated (inside), even though we arrived close to closing time. The brunch menu contains savory and sweet crepes, salads, a quiche and soup of the day, and a few sandwiches. Looking again at the Paris 66 Bistro website, I believe the brunch menu is similar to, if not identical to, the lunch menu and the dinner menu. I don’t think there were any brunch specials on Sunday, but the website says there are daily lunch and dinner specials.
I ordered ‘La Paris 66′ crepe ((ham, Swiss cheese, egg, mushrooms, tomato Provencale) and The Boy ordered ‘La Pigalle’ crepe (sautéed mushrooms, chicken, old fashioned mustard). Both crepes came with mixed greens.
And this is were the trouble began. The Boy ordered a cup of coffee. As we waited (and waited), it became apparent that the server had forgotten about it. Probably about 20 minutes later (antsy-ness starting to set in at this point), the server returned and apologized for a ‘kitchen backup’ and said our food should be out shortly. The Boy did not mention the coffee at that point because he had somewhat forgotten about it. After another 10 minutes (and an awkward conversation about the poor service with those sitting at a nearby table), our crepes finally arrived. The Boy then asked about his coffee and a cup quickly appeared.
The crepes were OK. I liked that my crepe had lots going on, although I thought the egg was a little underdone. It didn’t seem to be cooked at all? I don’t mind an over-easy egg but there was very little evidence this thing had seen heat. The crepe wasn’t particularly warm either. I kind of mixed the egg into the dish and ate it anyways, trying not to think about how much is resembled a raw egg. I have trouble believing this was how it was supposed to be. My crepe also contained a dollop of the chicken mixture that was part of The Boy’s crepe. The menu made no mention of chicken. Hmm. Overall, I enjoyed my crepe and the portion was large – I didn’t finish.
The Boy said his crepe was OK. The chicken, although it had great flavor (love the mustard) was dry. The portion on my crepe was also dry. The amount of chicken mixture on his crepe was also pretty small – he said he definitely was not filled up after this. I think my crepe, since it had more in it, was more filling.
I want to give this place the benefit of the doubt. I loved the space and loved the idea of the food. I likely will return, definitely to try a sweet crepe. However, at this point, particularly considering the service issues, I would have trouble recommending Paris 66 Bistro to anyone.
Perhaps I will return on a not so hectic weeknight, not minutes before closing? Perhaps take advantage of the BYOB policy and augment the meal a bit? The Boy pointed out that all crepes appeared to be made on 2 or 3 crepe makers up front - I can see how this might cause a backup. The kitchen and servers just came across as overwhelmed during my visit, and it was evident in the food and reflected in my overall so-so experience.
If you have been, and had a different experience, please let me know. At heart, I am rooting for this place – but clearly they have some kinks to work out.