Paris in Town fails to transport

Julia Rich, Reporter

A newly opened French café, “Paris in Town,” attempts to transport diners on Cordell Ave., Bethesda to Paris. However, even with great service, the decor was the closest it got to achieving a true French feel.

As you walk into the restaurant, you instantly notice French artwork, miniature Eiffel Towers and a sign for organic sourdough baguettes. Every table has a mini plant and some packets of sugar for coffee, which is very on brand for Paris. Additionally, there was also a display case of pastries and other baked goods.

Immediately upon my arrival, I was greeted with a smile and told to sit anywhere I liked. Picking a spot near tall windows, I felt as if I was really sitting on a corner street outside in Paris. The patience of the waiters made me feel like I had all the time in the world.

The space was incredibly intimate, as it was only me and my friend along with a family sitting at the other end of the café. The menu offered a variety of traditional French foods, such as grilled panini-style sandwiches, salads and various soup options. Of course, there were also a number of add-ons like salami, Swiss cheese, albacore tuna, cucumber, olives, goat cheese and melted mozzarella that came served on a baguette. Our waiter was incredibly courteous and happy to give us more time to decide on what to eat, as there were so many choices.

As an appetizer, I ordered the Soupe à l’Oignon Gratinée for $10.95, which was caramelized onion soup topped with sliced baguette and melted Swiss cheese. I was extremely impressed with both the dish and its presentation. Even though the broth was a little watery, the melted Swiss cheese plated on top canceled it out. Surprisingly, I also enjoyed the sliced baguette inside the soup which added great flavor and texture that the broth of the soup lacked.

Next, I ordered the Le Marbella sandwich. It included goat cheese and roasted red pepper. The sandwich came very uniquely presented in a small basket that had a French newspaper on top of it. After seeing this presentation, I was excited to try the sandwich but was extremely disappointed upon taking a bite. The baguette was dense and chewy and overpowered the filling. For the most expensive sandwich on the menu at $13.50, I was surprised by how sub-par it was.

Hoping our combined order of the Le Bastille salad would be better, I was again slightly disappointed. The lettuce didn’t taste fresh and although there was chicken, walnuts on toasted bread and tomato, there was no seasoning or taste. It was purely a salad that I could make at home and not at all unique to the theme of the restaurant.

For our dessert, at the waiter’s high praise, we decided to order a crepe for $12.95. We got the La Sayf which contained nutella, strawberries and whipped cream. Like the rest of the food we ordered, it came very quickly and did not taste fresh. While it was not distasteful, it did not make me long for another bite. Frankly, I’ve had better crepes at the Palisades Farmers Market in Washington, D.C. I would not recommend ordering this dish.

To immerse myself in the culture a little more, I ordered a Café Mocha after my dessert which was very well presented. Personally, I do not drink a lot of coffee, but I thought it was very tasty and paired well with the food I ordered.

While the food was not very expensive, the price we paid was well spent on the experience and not the cuisine.

On our way out, we bought some macaroons, a fruit tart and a croissant to-go from the bakery stand at the front of the café. While they looked appealing, the baked goods did not match my standards for French food in America. Paris aside, there are plenty of better French-inspired cafés like Boulangerie Christoph in Georgetown and Fresh Baguette in Bethesda.

Paris in Town did slightly deliver an experience similar to a Parisian café with the art, tables and food presentation. The café had an extremely friendly atmosphere but the cuisine itself did not deliver to the very high expectation that I had when I read the word “Paris” on the sign in front. This makes me reluctant to visit the café again and encourages me to once again visit the real place instead.