Wednesday, December 7, 2011


Casa Olympe was one of the first restaurants I went to in Paris. I was very excited because it was my first Michelin Star experience. Casa Olympe was opened by Olympe Versini and she became the first woman to get a Michelin Star. I had read about Casa Olympe in one of my Paris tourist books and liked the sound of it. It sounded somewhat quaint with simple, traditional french food done right. It sounded like exactly what I wanted.

Not the easiest for my friend and I to find, we walked around four what felt like hours look like idiots with a map. But we did, eventually, locate the small little eatery and were more than happy to sit down. That was until we entered the joint. We certainly did not feel welcomed. No one acknowledged us when we entered and had to awkwardly ask for a table. The host sat us in a tight corner without so much as a smile. While I now have grown accustomed to this attitude, at the time I was still expecting friendly or at least welcoming service. If not for the fact that we were too embarrassed to turn on our heels and leave, I think both Chrissy and I would've walked out right then.

We ordered the cheapest bottle of wine on the menu because none of them were really all that cheap, and neither of us considered ourselves wine snobs. The water then brought us some dusty old bottle that looked as though it were a prop in a movie and poured us two cloudy glasses of what I can only assume was white wine. That was, after all, what we had ordered. We hesitantly took a sip and each shared the same sour-puss face as the liquid entered our mouths. It tasted like something that had been fermented in someones old sweaty shoe. It was horrible. We should've have sent it back, immediately. But we were already feeling as though we were putting these people out, like we had already been branded as tourists and idiots, and so instead of demanding a real bottle of wine we watered it down and suffered through the horrific sweaty vin, glass after glass (like true idiotic tourists would).

I ordered sweet breads because it's something that I love and since it was just my first week in France I really wanted something that I couldn't find easily in the states. My sweet breads arrived and I must say the plate looked wonderful. They were served with some grilled asparagus and an olive oil asparagus sauce. They were cooked beautifully but sadly that was really their only redeeming quality. They lacked in flavor and I had to add a multitude of salt because it seemed as if they didn't have any at all. And while I love sweet breads, and love asparagus, I was somewhat expecting a little bit more to be on my plate. It was relatively bare for a main course. Certainly not bad by any stretch, I ate every last sweetbread, but I was quite disappointed by the dish. I didn't want anything exciting per se, just something that made me happy to be eating it.

Chrissy and I ordered a cheese plate to finish and were happy, at least, with that. But really, how can you mess up cheese in France? I must admit that all the other patrons in the restaurant seemed happy. They also seemed like regulars. Olympe herself was there going around and saying "Hello" to everyone. Two old men sitting near us were served a large platter of slowly cooked meat and looked as jolly as could be digging into it. Another table had their dog sitting underneath them and Olympe bent down and gave him vigorous pets. But Chrissy and I both felt like unwelcomed outsiders who had been taken advantage of. It was not the Michelin Star experience I was looking for.

I do not know if this is a fair analysis of Casa Olympe, but it certainly reflects my dining event. From the reviews I've read online it appears that most people disagree with me and I am tempted to return for another meal. Many people consider it their neighborhood stop, warm and welcoming with good traditional French comfort food done simply and well. But when it comes to Paris I see no reason for taking chances. There are so many wonderful restaurants that do what they do well and consistently. This restaurant may have peaked my interest and presented itself as all the things I wanted, but it failed to deliver them to me. And really, when you like the idea of something more than you like the reality of it, all you get is disappointed. And that truly does not taste good.

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