Wednesday Cocktail Adventures: Le Comptoir
37, Rue Berger, 75001 Paris
Tel : 01 40 26 26 66
How do you spell "myeh"? You know the sound you make when something neither really strongly displeases nor pleases you, just leaves you feel rather "whatever" about something? Meh? Myeah? Mmmhhugh? I think you get where I'm going. I'm feeling rather "myeh" about this week's Cocktail Adventure.
A few years back I spent a month in Marrakesh. After adventurous evenings exploring the delicious but sometimes suspicious looking street stalls in the main town square for food and freshly squeezed orange juice, my girlfriend and I enjoyed a different kind of experience at a large bar/restaurant called Le Comptoir. Complete with belly dancers, low tables, cushions on the floor, back rooms and fun drinks, we enjoyed this little excursion. While it was definitely "less authentic" than our street vendors, the mood of escape-to-something-exotic was a pleasant little respite. Their card indicated locations in both Marrakesh and Paris. So for several years, in the back of my mind, I've been thinking I need to get to the Paris location to see how it compares.
I finally got there. It turns out that while they still share a website (according to the barman, although I'm unable to find it), the owners of the original two establishments have stayed in Marrakesh, and sold the Paris branch. Sadly, I didn't get the same rush of luscious, romantic escape. Le Comptoir is nicely decorated, but it feels a bit like the Pier 1 Imports version of Arabian Nights. Their nice sized terrace was mainly taken up for dining and reserved tables.
The cocktail menu offered many choices at 10.50 Euros, including a dry martini and some other 20 or so "classics" (some of which were and some weren't). They have a decent selection of champagne cocktails (one of which absconds with the name Pink Lady) and some house creations.
Fortunately, we stopped in during the 17h00 to 20h00 happy hour when cocktails are 6.50 Euros, allowing us to sample without overspending. The martinis were fine. Nice proportion of gin/vermouth, served in a warm glass with an olive. Minimal bar snacks of marinated olives came to the table. I've had better. I've had worse. It didn't seriously damage my pocketbook but I wouldn't run back for another.
This Wednesday brought another sizable group, so between us we tried several of the specialty drinks. I ordered the Barby Girl (tequila, Malibu, strawberry juice, creme de coco & lime) which tasted about as unappetizing as it sounds (hey, don't look at me like that....I thought maybe I'd be pleasantly surprised!) Elspeth tried the Tofee Tout Fou (dark rhum, caramel & Perrier) which was the overall favorite of the group, but still not a real winner. A few mojitos were passed around to try, which were decent (Paris seems to have an okay grasp on making mojitos since pretty much every bar makes them) and a few other questionable selections from the house creations menu were passable. Many of the drinks were heavily decorated with little chapeau's of sugar dusted mint sprigs or sugary marsh mellow fruit blobs on a stick. [I'll keep my snide comments about that to myself for today]
Overall, it's not that it's a bad place, but the cocktails aren't really up to snuff. It's worth noting that they do get high marks on many online guide and reviews. But, for me...myeh. I guess, sometimes, you shouldn't try and recapture that holiday feeling.