In the ever-trendy area surrounding the Canal Saint-Martin, there is no shortage of hip new restaurants, cafés and bars. La Marine stands out for keeping its classic décor while still attracting the neighborhood hipsters. Doubtless, the romantic view of the canal is part of the draw, and the simple French menu is moderately priced and looks promising. With its zinc bar, tiled floor, and molded ceiling, you expect good, unpretentious French food to come out of the kitchen at La Marine. And it does.
On a recent visit, I was impressed by the amount of colorful, not-overcooked (as they so often are) vegetables on my plate of salt-roasted cod with aioli. The aioli itself was a tad disappointing, however, lacking the assertive garlic flavor I was expecting and hoping for. Across the table, the day’s special of ribeye steak with potato gratin and morel mushroom sauce was an unqualified success.
On the starter menu, the gazpacho (the French do branch out, on occasion) sounded too good to pass up. The sweetness of ripe red tomatoes commingled with the acidic kick of sherry vinegar, but the best and most unique part of the soup was the dollop of creamy fresh goat’s cheese floating in the center.
The wine list is short, but contains a number of wines in the €30 range. The bottle of Corbières I selected was drinkable, if served on the warm side. (Let it be noted that this was a rather warm night – I doubt the same wine would be too warm in cooler weather.)
To finish, a light pistachio financier cake served with industrial raspberry sorbet hit the spot. We lingered over it, enjoying the lights twinkling on the canal in the dusk, the people-watching, and the extreme Parisian-ness of the setting.
It also bears mentioning that the service at La Marine is downright prompt – a rarity in French restaurants. They won’t hover or make you feel like you’re being rushed, but your carafe of water will be refilled if needs be, and the time between seating and ordering is just long enough to read the menu and make your decisions. Classic Parisian atmosphere, a good meal, and service with a smile. What’s not to like?
55 bis, quai de Valmy, 10th
Mº République, Jacques Bonsergent
Tél 01 42 39 69 81