By Joe Ray
Unless you’re willing to plunk down the cash, eating around the Champs Elysées is an expensive and often unsatisfying proposition.
“There’s a great Chinese, good sushi...” my dining partner said, citing his local favorites but after years of working in the neighborhood, but he still hadn’t found a favorite French place that’s a good value.
Luckily, he was prepared to plunk down the cash.
In front of Citrus Etoile, Audis and Porsches fight for the space in the crosswalk by the valet and inside, it’s businessmen and a bit of Botox. A little too showbiz for me. The waiter will take your order using an oversized Palm Pilot. That tap, tap, tap noise is about as pleasant a sound as fingers on a chalkboard.
The Web site describes the "adorable" owners Gilles and Elizabeth Epié as “a dynamic and sexy couple.” Someone needs to turn the PR down a notch. Some eat this stuff up and love what the couple does, but this is not my cup of tea.
Having spent a big hunk of time cooking in California, Monsieur Epié makes a laudable effort to offer a menu that’s good for you, but I don’t want to come to a place like this and have a dish that looks like it was pulled from the ‘heart-healthy’ section of a menu.
I will also mention that at a wine tasting yesterday, I had a very similar main dish - fish with spring vegetables - at the wine bistrot Vin Chez Moi (18 rue Duphot 75001) and it was about twice as good (and good looking) as this. Everything we eat at Citrus Etoile is good, but there’s no point during the meal where we say ‘Mmmmm!’ I hate to say it, but I felt like I could do some of this at home.
It also feels like you need to know what to get - there’s a businessman a few tables away whose tie is thrown back over his shoulder like it was in his way. I want what he had, but at 70 euros a head for lunch without wine or dessert, I should be able to point at dishes with my eyes closed and come up with winners every time.
Again, maybe it’s just me. Everything about this place is what the French would call ‘more than correct’ but I’m not interested in paying for a seat in a semi-exclusive place unless it's going to make me want to eat with my tie slung over my shoulder.
Lunchtime prix-fixe options at 49 and 69€. It goes up from there.
Citrus Etoile – MAP
6 rue Arsène Houssaye
+33 1 42 89 15 51