A good family friend of ours lived in Paris for a year while he studied abroad at Columbia. Before Josh and I made the big move, we met up with him, as he made himself available to us as a resource for questions about his experience living in Paris. Among his list of passions in what he referred to as his favorite place in the world, was Osmose, what he called the best Kosher restaurant in the world! With such an emphatic claim, we knew that this was one of the places we would have to experience. It is one of the most expensive and gourmet Kosher restaurant in Paris- the type of restaurant one would eat at on a special occasion.
We opted to try Osmose on one of the evenings when my family was in town. I am not usually a huge fan of super fancy restaurants, as the atmosphere can be stuck up and cold, and the food portions are normally too small (spoken like a true American!) However, it is fun to venture out to a really nice dinner once in a while, something different and hopefully special. The restaurant was fairly empty when we arrived at 9:30pm. The lighting was very dimmed and illuminated with shades of purples, blues, and pinks. The unique lighting and subtle elevator music playing in the background mimicked the experience of sitting at an upscale lounge.
The evening actually played out relatively comically. Our waiter looked extremely French, from his long hair, which was styled to stick up on top of his head, his scruffy yet barbered beard, snobby facial expressions, and extremely fitted pants. We asked him to translate the menu into English, as a majority of our table couldn’t understand French. The food at Osmose is mostly French, with an Asian fusion twist on several of the dishes. Our waiter skipped right over the Specials page (which had the best priced meals) and told us that it was not worth him explaining it since we should order off of the regular listed items. He also skipped over the stir-fried chicken dish which was the least expensive item on the menu as well as the only chicken main. He claimed that it tasted like something that you could make for yourself at home and that we shouldn’t waste our time ordering it. He couldn’t have made it more obvious that he was trying to take advantage of us non-French speaking Americans!
It was clear that each of us would be ordering a three course dinner, as well as a bottle of wine for the table. We had a really nice Tepperberg Meritage Ella Valley Israeli wine (38 euro), although to no surprise, the waiter had recommend the bottles in the 70-100 euro price range. We ordered a few “After the Crunchy” appetizers, a delicious dish of two small fried chicken skewers with a picadilly mushroom and mustard puree and a side salad. This was definitely the most mainstream entree on the menu, as many others featured more obscure French delicacies like foi gras, salmon tartar, and beef marrow.
Benjy ordered the salmon with a small side of sesame noodles and a vegetable garnish (32 euro). Of all of us, he enjoyed his dish the most. The portion was very tiny, but the presentation was beautiful and the fish was garnished delicately and artfully. He thought the salmon tasted fresh and delicious and provided a unique Oriental flavor. When he offered me a taste, I was really tempted, but felt bad taking away from what was to begin with a portion that would leave me hungry. This must be why the French are so skinny!
My dad ordered the Pave of beef (31 euro) and Josh ordered entrecote (33 euro). Both also ordered a side of potatos (6 euro) sauteed mushrooms with dried herbs (8 euro). The side portions were very tiny and served in ultra mini gourmet bowls, however, they both enjoyed their beef.
My mom and sister saw passed the waiter’s discouragement and ordered the chicken stir fried with curry and vegetables (24 euro). Since neither of them eat beef or fish, this was the only main dish that appealed to them anyways. I was going to follow suit and order the “boring” chicken, but the waiter succeeded to convince me to order the Sea Bream (34 euro). He insisted that the Sea Bream is his absolute favorite dish on the menu, and he could eat it every day, as it is light and delectable. He raved about it so much that I could not resist.
As it would turn out, my sister and my mom were completely satisified with their dishes, and I was less than pleased with mine! After my mom’s initial taste, she exclaimed, “this is not something that I could just whip up at home!” My fish was strongly fishy and tasted very plain and simple. It was garnished with a sparse amount of shredded mango and corn niblets and was not prepared with enough flavor for my liking. Furthermore, the chicken stir fry was a greater amount of food and a more filling dish.
I told the waiter that I did not fancy the fish and asked him if I could have the chicken stir fry instead. I did not think returning my dish would cause an issue, as he had initially discouraged me from ordering it. Furthermore, I presumed that an upscale and expensive restaurant with a reputation to maintain would try to excel at its customer service. He looked disapprovingly at me at assured me that the fish was extremely fresh. I don’t think he was lying to me, but it was just too fishy, and I had specifically asked him if it was fishy when I ordered it.
He begrudgingly took my plate away. Five minutes later, he returned and relayed to me that the chef was extremely insulted since I had insulted one of his masterful dishes. The chef refused to make me anything else instead. He swore that the fish was fresh and that if I wanted something else, I would have to pay for a separate order. The French get very put off when you insult their food! I ate the fish and was totally unsatisfied, but God forbid I didn’t want the chef to spit in my dessert.
For dessert, Benjy and Elaine shared the chocolate mouse (9 euro) from the “light and low calorie desserts” menu and Josh and I shared the caramelized banana with vanilla ice cream, and chocolate paste (12 euro) from the NOT LIGHT dessert menu. The evening turned into a dinner with entertaining stories and memories to laugh upon. I can see why some people would love this kind of formal and gourmet ambiance, however, I prefer restaurants where the service is less stuffy and the food is not served in miniscule portions. I guess I’m not a true gourmandine at heart!
The restaurant’s bizarre and obnoxiously modern bathrooms topped off the end of a very comical evening for the entirety of our group. The washing area outside the bathroom is DIMLY lit and decorated with candelabras and mirrors on all walls. The bathroom stalls had zero light, so that one is not able to see anything when using the toilet.
There is however, a huge blue illuminated word on the stall door that says “occupied,” which is the only light source emitted in the area. The lighting reflects the chic ambience and decor of the restaurant, however, the set up is completely impractical and backwards. My dad thought that seeing and experiencing the bathroom was the most entertaining part of the evening!