Nestling down a quiet back street off the Boulevard de Grenelle is the rather cute looking L'Alchimie. It's fronted with pale green shutters and flowery window boxes.
However, upon entering the restaurant you are presented with an entirely different, and somewhat questionable style.
Though L'Alchimie scores zero points for décor, think modern done badly and some truly terrible paintings, they do score bonus points for hospitality. I was seated immediately, and given a bowl of olives to nibble whilst choosing my courses (at lunch it is €27 for two courses and €31 for three).
I chose the Dorande tartare with fennel (a raw white fish dish), followed by the chef’s special, lapin a la moutarde (rabbit with mustard) and a glass of house red (€6). Having glanced over the menu it seems the name of the restaurant (translated into English it becomes Alchemy) is indicative of its menu, each dish seems to have some wild or unusual ingredient thrown into the mix.
Would the Alchemy work? Would I find lead turned to gold? Or end up with a mouthful of not very much?
My fish dish came with some kind of spiced crunchy topping which I could not identify. The tartare was initially quite pleasant, fresh, sharp and with a bit of a kick and was served with a warm roll. But the sharp and intense flavours got a bit too much about halfway through and it became a struggle to finish it. I think perhaps the wild card flavours were a bit much.
My main was not quite as flavourful, in fact it really could have done with more mustard, I could barely taste it at all. I wondered if this was to make it more palatable, but then if you did not like mustard, why would you order such a dish? The rabbit itself was presumably roasted, it was a bit overcooked in places, but the mashed potato it came with was fine. The general verdict was okay, but I know I can do better myself.
I decided to sample a dessert to see if this might be a highlight, often a fairly run of the mill meal can be redeemed by a gorgeous dessert. I ordered a poached pear in mulled wine with mandarin sorbet. The sorbet was good, a bit tart but there was sugar to sweeten it if so required. The pear and mulled wine was so-so, which pretty much summed up the meal. A mish-mash of the traditional and modern, it gives the impression of trying a bit too hard and results in an attempt to spice up traditional French dishes that I am not altogether sure works.
Address: 34 Rue Letellier, 75015 Paris
Metro: M6, 8 and 10, La Motte-Picquet - Grenelle M10, Avenue Emile Zola
Phone: 01 45 75 55 95
Open: Tuesday to Saturday, 12:00 to 14:00 and 19:30 to 22:00