When is the last time you felt you could just reach out and touch the Eiffel Tower? You can certainly try as you dine on the terrace of Girafe, the ultra-trendy, modern-day brasserie outside the 1937 Art Deco Palais de Chaillot/Cité de l’Architecture on the Place du Trocadéro in the 16th.
It would be impossible not to be in awe of the view: At one point feeling as though you could stretch out your arms and touch the Parisian monument, at another that you might just be looking at a cardboard backdrop of the tower in Las Vegas. In fact, the entire experience is impressive, with its 80-seat warm and cozy, carved wood and mirrored interior, and a stunning display of the days fish and shellfish offerings at the entry. The all-white terrace itself – seating 200 diners – is chic, elegant, understated. Service can be a bit slow, but always amiable. The young, beautifully outfitted staff only adding to this lovely Parisian experience.
And the food? So far, so good. I savored the impeccable, modest-sized, ultra-fresh fines de claire oysters from the Charente Maritime. The rarely seen true supions – the most tender of baby squid, arrived bathed in a Technicolor red sauce that included chorizo, a confit of red peppers and a touch of Espelette pepper. But the best dish to date is their starter of ravioles de langoustines (my favorite seafood, by far), with its soft, welcoming pasta floating in a full-flavored mushroom and green curry sauce. I could eat that once a week! The main course dish of steamed langoustines with ginger and lemongrass, was still convincing despite being served with an overly abundant quantity of sauce.
Diners next to us ordered a sole meunière, which looked delicious, and is on my “to try” list for the next visit. And I must say that the slim, golden frites were delicious: crispy, and you could really taste that fresh potato flavor.
Samplings from their cru (raw) menu were underwhelming: the yellowtail swimming in way too much sesame oil and the tuna with jalapenos and yuzu was as bland as could be.
Desserts can be delicious. I would be proud to make their ultra-tender pavlova, topped with cream and an abundance of varied red berries, and the chocolate tart was fine, though but I would have preferred that it had been made with a bitter dark chocolate. The towering vanilla millefeuille was a luxurious delight. Some desserts are prettier than they taste: a perfectly gorgeous fig tart was simply bland, and the “unstructured” lemon tart was photogenic but forgettable.
The wine list suggests something for everyone. Though their offerings by the glass leave something to be desired: Both the Chablis Domaine d’Elise and Sancerre Tournebridge Domaine V Gaudry were tasteless. By the bottle, I loved, as always, the Sancerre blanc from Domaine Vacheron.
Girafe | Palais de Chaillot, 1 Place du Trocadéro | Paris 16 | Tel: +33 1 40 62 70 61 | Métro: Trocadéro | Open Daily noon – 11pm | Starters, around 23€, raw dishes, 18 to 31€, main dishes about 50€, salads 20€, at lunch and dinner.