November 24, 2006
27 Quai Branly 01 47 53 68 00,
Les Ombres is a brand new restaurant in Paris’s newest museum, the Musée Branley. Even with that important piece of information, it is not the easiest restaurant to find, particularly at night even with a GPS-equipped cab driver (it seems every cab driver in Paris has one) who must, therefore, not think it necessary to keep up with cultural happenings. And, the opening of the Branley must have been one of the biggest this year. The address seems straightforward, but in three passes our taxi driver could not find it. Passersbys, when questioned, offered no real help. Finally two men pointed in the direction of the Musée Branley, which of course was closed at 20h00. Still, we walked up some steps and around to the back. There was an unmarked door which seemed to go to a long corridor which didn’t seem right, so we made our way to an elevator outdoors that seemed to be the only other choice. Just then, someone came out of the door to the corridor and beckoned us in, pointing us to an interior elevator. We don’t think they are trying to keep this a secret, but a sign or two could help.Stepping out on the fifth floor we entered a glass jewel box, facing the beautifully lit Eiffel Tower. There were elegantly spaced wooden tables arranged on the wooden floor with woven leather chairs flanking them. Not one tablecloth, not one piece of art marred the glass box and its wooden furnishings. On the tables were geometric plates in black and white, and the staff were all dressed in white suits with black ties. The only light in the large room emanating from ingenious Australian-designed battery-powered blocks of light. The dramatic austereness softened by the spectacular view of Paris’s jewel and the attentive and friendly wait staff.The menu is small but interesting. The tasting menu is €95 but we didn’t think we could do it justice, so we ordered á la carte. Gary started with a pumpkin cream soup and pumpkin ravioli (€19) that he declared ambrosial. No entrée for Varian. Our main courses were a pavé de cabillaud laqué d’un caramel au gingembre, lentilles vertes du Puy á la citronnelle (€28) and a saumon mi-fume, sauce aux quartre vinaigres, endive confites au beurre (€26). Both were as unusual as they were scrumptious.Choosing from the very pricey wine list was difficult but we managed to find a lovely Pommerol, Chateau La Cabane, 1998, for €70.We had no room for dessert or cheese, but had such a lovely evening we vowed to come back one day and bring an appetite.