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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Wednesday Cocktail Adventure: La Fidelite

La Fidélité
12, Rue de la Fidélité

75010 Paris

Tel: 01 47 70 19 34

Located in the somewhat sketchy neighborhood of the Gare de l’est, this hip bar/restaurant created a bit of a buzz amongst the trend-setters when it first opened less than a year ago. The heavy red velvet curtains drawn over the large windows up the exclusivity factor, giving it an air of being closed. So much so, that as I already sat in the bar with Melanie, Matt sent me a text from just the other side of the door saying “Apparently it is closed.” Only those in the know will bother traversing the not-too-inviting entrance.

Mel and I perused the drinks menu while checking out the clientele and noticed it was predominantly male, which provided lots of tasty eye candy for the ladies. One particular Gerard Butler lookalike must have thought I was giving him the once over more than once as I kept turning around to scan the bar (more to get an idea of what kind of place we found ourselves in rather than trying to pick up the boys – but GB lookalike if you’re reading this, feel free to mail me!)

This spacious venue has plenty of delicately pretty touches like ironwork railings on a mini-spiral staircase in the corner, interesting moldings and very high ceilings. The space gives the impression of having been something else before – Melanie guessed a theatre, I guessed a train station. But the barman assured me it had always been a restaurant. The expansive bright white walls and ceilings allow them to dim the lights to an extremely low level without a crypt-like feeling, and the restaurant area was full of happy hipster diners.

The cocktail menu is small with about 8 choices. Their spirit selection is limited to 2 to 3 different brands for each– but decent brands for such a limited choice. For gin you’ve got Bombay Sapphire or Hendricks. For such a short menu, I was impressed to see a dry martini listed amongst the kirs, caipis, mojitos and cosmos, which ranged from 6 to 10€. My Bombay Sapphire/Noilly Prat martini was stirred and garnished with an olive and was one of the more expensive at 10€. I was pleasantly surprised by the quality which was more than acceptable for a Paris bar. The one beef I had with it was that the glass was slightly dusty, making me think that they haven’t used their martini glasses (or at least mine) for awhile.

Melanie took a caiparinia, which she said was decent. We expected the usual munchies, yet nothing came. I went up to the bar and asked the friendly – yet not super observant – barman for something to munch on. He had nothing but pleasantly filled a glass with the olives from the cocktail garnish tray.

When Matt and Caroline arrived, they took a side car and margarita. By that time Melanie and I were ready for a second so she took another caipi and I took a margarita as well. Matt’s Sidecar wasn’t on the menu and the barman asked what was in it. We told him and he didn’t want to hear the proportions after the ingredients declaring that they could figure it out from there. The margaritas were not good at all. There was not enough (or no?) cointreau or triple sec. The side car confirmed Matt’s suspicion that he should stop ordering them if they aren’t on the menu. It consisted of cognac and Cointreau and a chunk of lemon, but no lemon juice. He was very disappointed with his drink and the fact that he paid more than us at 12€.

The most interesting thing about this stop was that Vincent Lindon arrived with a pretty companion and lingered at the bar while I tried to remember the name of this La Moustache star. We decided we wanted one more - but perhaps wine would be the way to go. No one was dying to stay here so we moved on to a busy, bustling neighborhood cafe instead.

La Fidelité has a fun, trendy ambience and is sort of close to home for me, so I might get myself back there for a glass of wine or a cuope of Veuve at 10€ accompanied by a bit of people/star/boy watching, but not for cocktails – which are a bit hit and miss.

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Friday, March 19, 2010

Wednesday Cocktail Adventure: L'Apparamment Cafe

L’Apparemment Café
18, Rue des Coutures St-Gervais

Paris 75003

Tel: 01 48 87 12 22

On some cocktail adventures, we get bad service. On some, we get bad drinks. On some, we get bad prices. And, on some we get the un-holy trinity of all three at once! Welcome to this week’s Wednesday Cocktail Adventure.

I read online that l’Apparemment was more of a salon with board games, a laid back casual atmosphere, good food and drinks and an interesting mix of clientele. I like the sound of that. I arrived to find Matt and Mel already waiting this bar that feels like a cross between a casual cabin in Backwoods, US with the cheap wooden paneled walls and an exotic Casablanca-type expat bar with its low-hanging ceiling fans and ferny plants.

Matt was already waiting for his previously ordered Side Car (listed on the menu) while Mel and I checked out the drinks on offer. L’apparemment offers 11 house creations and 23 ‘classics’ including Manhattans, Blue Moons and Americanos, using a bit of artistic license for some of the recipes.

Booze selection is bare minimum. Gordon’s is their only gin and the other spirits are limited to 2 or 3 low-end choices. This is clearly not the place to come for top shelf brands. I explained how to make my dry martini and Mel took a cool raoul (tequila, grapefruit juice & almond syrup) And, thus began the wait. For each of our drinks, the server had to come back and ask us to repeat our order two to three times. The place was not crowded and we were sitting just a few feet from the bar where the order was being placed. Promised peanuts never came. This wasn’t just standard Parisian indifferent service. I seriously wondered if the guy was high.

My martini was unenthusiastically shaken without ice and arrived cheekily committing just about every martini sin possible: tasteless gin, too much vermouth, big black plastic straw, large chunk of lemon wedge, tall glass and warm temperature. When Matt’s Side Car finally came (quite some time after he ordered it) it was predominately lemon juice.

I didn’t try Mel or Violaine’s drinks, but there was no cocktail joy on anyone’s part. Matt and I agreed that it was the worst Wednesday experience yet: nothing redeeming on a cocktail level whatsoever. Well, unless…is there a word for self-directed Schadenfreude!? We do sometimes enjoy a bit of twisted glee when we discover the really bad cocktails. We should probably see someone about that!

We couldn’t bear the thought of paying another 9.50 Euros for such sub-sub-par drinks. Sure, we’ve paid more, but never for drinks of such appalling quality. So, since it was St Patty’s, we headed over to the Rush Bar and forwent cocktail trials for some serious St Patrick’s Day celebrating instead.

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