One of the factors why the Mandarin Oriental in Paris managed to draw so much attention clearly is its chef, Thierry Marx, who previously cooked in Pauillac, and has moved to the capital where he overseas Sur Mesure, the gastronomic restaurant of the Mandarin and Camelia, the slightly more laid-back restaurant.
Being in a Mandarin Oriental hotel however, things here are done properly. The room for instance is beautiful, bringing bright and warm colours and making you feel at ease immediately. The same effect comes from the knowledgeable and friendly service.
So the scene at Camelia is clearly set, and the food that Marx serves here is no less impressive than the décor or service. Clearly, you will not get the more elaborate and idiosyncratic dishes of Sur Mesure here, but what you do get are delightful interpretations of French classics. What characterises this cuisine at Camelia are genuinely good products, very clear compositions and a focus on flavour. Technically the food is impeccable, which doesn’t surprise given Marx’ track record so far.
So, what dishes stand out here? A very simple but delicious starter is a scallop carpaccio with caviar and traditional garnishes. This is a dish that could easily be found in much more ‘serious’ restaurants, and yet it doesn’t disappoint here. What stands out is the quality of the scallops and the very fine balance that really holds things together. Fresh, zesty and captivating, this dish clearly is a rather impressive start.
No less good however are cooked scallops with artichokes. Again, the number of products on the plate is limited, and the dish is based on classical combinations. What makes it stand out is the precise cooking of the scallops, and their quality. The artichokes are perfectly prepared and add an earthy element to the sweetness of the roasted scallops. What Thierry Marx serves at Camelia is certainly not food that will satisfy people who want to be wowed by elaborate constructions, but it seems to be a perfect complement to the cuisine served at Sur Mesure.
If someone has a dish such as the pigeon with girolles and polenta and still complains something clearly is wrong. For this is the kind of dish that is so tasty that it would be hard to find even the slightest thing to criticise. The pigeon is cooked shockingly well and works beautifully with both the polenta and the girolles. A superb dish, one that would not look out of place in a 2* restaurant.
Thierry Marx’ ‘simple’ restaurant in Paris’ new Mandarin Oriental is impressive. The simple and tasty food here is nothing new, but simply serves some of the most delicious and carefully prepared French food one can get at this price point in Paris.