On November 1, 2019, while in Paris for a girl's weekend/shopping trip, we had lunch at Le Dôme Café quite unexpectedly. It turned into a fantastic, if unexpected experience that I felt I needed to share in case you were looking for a place to stop on a trip to Paris.
The original plan for lunch on that Friday was to go to Montée. When I booked our lunch reservation for Montée back on September 23, it did not even register in my mind that it was Toussaint (i.e. All Saints' Day) which is a public holiday in France. In Paris, not all stores and restaurants were closed, but a good number were.
We started off that Friday with a long walk from our hotel, the Renaissance Paris Republique, in the 10th Arrondissement, to rue Saint-Honoré in the 1st Arrondissement. After a few hours shopping (more on that later), we grabbed an Uber in order to make our 1:30 lunch reservation. On arrival, we saw that Montée appeared closed. There was no sign on the door, but the inside looked like they had not been open at all for lunch. Fortunately, they saw us peering into the windows (I could see the chef experimenting in the kitchen) and let us know they were closed for the day.
To be fair to Montée, while the online platform confirmed my reservation back on September 23, in the day or two leading up to November 1, neither the restaurant called confirm nor did the online platform ask for me to confirm. In addition, and this is my idiotic mistake, I did not call to confirm, nor did I ask the hotel concierge to do so.
While we were incredibly disappointed, me because I had wanted to share my favorite restaurant in Paris with a dear friend, and my because she had seen all the photos and wanted to experience the place I had raved about. Alas, it was not to be on this trip. However, every cloud has a silver lining. We walked right around the corner to Le Dôme Café. While I had had drinks there and had seen the Anthony Bourdain segment on The Layover where he demolished a seafood tower, I had not actually eaten there.
Because of the holiday and the late time of our lunch, the restaurant was relatively empty. We walked right in and were escorted to a table. We were handed the menus and wine list, and immediately ordered glasses of champagne to start. Our garçon brought us some sea snails to snack on while we looked at the menu.
He then came over and informed us of the specials. Ultimately, we ordered a bottle of Sancerre, the calamari entrée, the whole branzino, which was one of the specials of the day, and some potato blinis to go with our fish.
After ordering, they brought our fish out to the table to show us the one they were going to prepare for us. I loved this little touch of theatricality. Shortly thereafter, our calamari entrée, which was perfectly cooked and full of flavor, came out along with a small bite prepared by the chef. It was a bit of sardine with an endive. I will admit, I have never been a sardine fan (I have only had it one other time where I enjoyed it), but this one was actually quite tasty.
After that, our bottle of Sancerre, a 2017 Le Grand Chemarin, was also brought out. What can I say about the wine except it was perfect for the amazing dish that was about to make an appearance.
The branzino was absolutely beautiful. It had been stuffed with various herbs and whole roasted. It was served with some beautifully roasted tomatoes and heavenly, creamy, mashed potatoes. They brought the fish out, presented it to us, and then proceeded to filet and serve it. The fish was cooked to perfection, and just a squeeze of lemon was all that was needed to complete the fish.
Admittedly, we struggled to finish all our food, but made a valiant effort. After finishing up our wine, we passed on dessert as we were incredibly full, and needed to walk a bit before we could fit anything else in. All in all, it was an amazing lunch, making up for our earlier disappointment, and I would definitely go back to Le Dôme Café for more of their seafood masterpieces.
Le Dôme Café, 108 Boulevard du Montparnasse, 75014
Opening Hours: Sunday through Saturday: 12:00 – 15:00 and 19:00 – 23:00