Thursday, August 13, 2009
Review: La Société: The Costes-ification of Paris food continues..
The latest salvo in the Costes brothers campaign to flood the French capital with uber-stylish yet ultimately disappointing eateries comes in the form of La Société. Housed in a former jazz club next to Café Flore and across the rue from l’eglise St Germain, it’s a spectacularly beautiful looking restaurant. Clearly no expense has been spared on the interior design and furnishings. I was there the other night with a group of friends. It was all muted lighting and white leather banquettes and honey-brown lacquered walls and marble accents. It practically screams “money”! What a shame then that no attention has been paid to the menu. I’m all for sticking to a winning formula, but just once I would like to visit one of the Costes family’s ubiquitous Paris properties and not be forced to choose between a salad of haricot verts (shoot me now), mandarina crispy duck (always more crisp than actual duck) and a club sandwich (which at 20 euros is frankly ridiculous). Two of our party had carpaccio for entrée, which looked like it might have been okay had it not been smothered in a kind of salad cream. I opted for “le thon facon nicoise” – which was essentially a fancy nicoise salad, with admittedly well-cooked and very fresh tuna steak. But at 32 euros for a bit of salad and fish, you can’t help but wonder what they’re spending the money on. Then you notice the wait-staff and it all becomes clear. An exquisite example of French womanhood, to a person, they seem to have floated direct from a catwalk to a Costes near you. And while their waiting skills are apalling, one suspects they haven’t been hired to provide a running commentary on the provenance of a steak or the suitability of a wine. And while it’s true that man cannot live on bread alone, a little less style and perhaps a tad more substance would make La Société a wholly more satisyfing eating experience. But then, taking a look around at the bling-and-cosmetic-surgery obsessed crowd of fellow diners, you get the distinct impression that people are here to be seen, not fed.