As I was looking for places to eat in Paris, I kept coming across reviews and blog posts raving about celebrity chef Yves Camdeborde and his restaurant Le Comptoir and the sister wine bar, L’Avant Comptoir. Quite recently, he also opened up a seafood-focused version of his wildly popular wine bar and appropriately called it L’Avant Comptoir de la Mer.
We made a beeline for this place for lunch since I read that they don’t take reservations and it can get quite busy most of the time. Thankfully, it was the middle of the day, so there were barely a handful of others in the place.
The menu hangs from the ceiling where an array of rectangular cards with pictures of each small plate is colorfully on display. I was salivating as I scanned the cards seeing so many tasty dishes that I wanted to order. Everything was in French, and I didn’t bother to ask if they had an English menu, but I understood enough to narrow down my order.
No surprise here. I ordered the grilled calamari which was tossed with a pomegranate vinegar, black sesame and chorizo. This combination added a nice accented punch of flavor, but most importantly, the calamari was perfectly tender to the chew.
I am sucker when I see ravioles aka dumplings, but these were filled with shrimp mixture and ended up being quite underwhelming. There wasn’t a really distinct shrimp flavor to them but in spite of that, they weren’t awful, just not particularly special.
Hubster really liked this dish. Inside of the egg was a salmon tartare made with diced avocados and onions. A very small portion but full of flavor with each bite.
I wasn’t quite sure what I was ordering here. I thought it was going to be a tagliatelle pasta with squid, but it turned out to be very thin slices of squid that had been thinly cut to resemble pasta. It was mixed with fried garlic and chives. I really loved this dish. It reminded me of the Squid Pasta dish I had at Nobu a long time ago in NYC. The other dish was probably prettier, but I actually think this one was better executed. The subtle flavor was on point, but the most intriguing aspect for me was not only that it looked like a pasta, but it tasted like a pasta particularly in terms of the texture.
The space is quite small with no actual seats, so the idea is for people to come by have a couple drinks and enjoy a few dishes. It strikes me as the perfect after work happy hour type of hang out.
All in all, I really enjoyed the food, but I wish I could have tried more dishes. I felt like there were so many other more adventurous looking dishes, but I was hungry so I wanted to go with what I knew. The beauty is that the restaurant’s small plates concept lends itself quite easily to a very social dining experience where you can share a variety of dishes. But it was only Hubster and I, and although we left feeling full, I was truly unsatisfied because there was so much of the menu that was left to be discovered. Next time I’ll be sure to check out his other eateries as well.
L’Avant Comptoir de la Mer
3 Carrefour de l’Odéon
PAFO Ratings for L’Avant Comptoir de la Mer:
Ambiance 2½ stars
Food 4 stars
Overall rating 4 stars