The Costes Brothers and La Société

The other night I finally went to eat at La Société.

It is one of the many restaurants that belong to Costes Brothers. Some ten years ago, Time Magazine had a piece about them entitled "The Brothers who Ate Paris." At the time they had 40 cafes, restaurants and hotels.

In the intervening decade they expanded their empire by adding more restaurants, a perfume line, a ready-to-eat food line and watch and luxury luggage lines.

This is the map of the eateries they own either directly or through extended family and senior management.

As you can see, they own the renowned Café Marly of Louvre Museum, the restaurant Georges on top of Beaubourg and L'Esplanade, which is the only cafe on the entire Esplanade des Invalides.

Lately, the Brothers Costes set their sights on overseas prizes and are reportedly thinking of making a bid on "New York’s iconic Oak Room and Oak Bar in the storied Plaza Hotel."

La Societe is one of their new ventures. It is strategically placed across from the Church of Saint Germaine and next to a Louis Vuitton store and Cafe les Deux Magots.

I said finally at the outset because I have been hearing from friends about this restaurant for some time now. And for some unknown reason, I have been resisting the idea.

Now I know why.

When you get there you are greeted by a pseudo hip young man who promptly transfers to you to a tall and good looking woman in mini skirts. Once inside you realize that the place is run by tall and good looking young women in mini skirts.

The decor is, well, let's call it Dubai-chic meets Bauhaus minimalism.

It is a terrifying concept. I know.

The picture on the right is not a good representation of how the space feels when you are eating there.

In the picture you can see the unadorned tables but you don't feel the effect of the gaudy plaster wall art.

Nor do you get the the sense of vacuity that supermodel manqué waitresses bring to the service.

Fortunately, the clientele is trendy or branché as the Parisians helpfully call them. So they fit right in.
But I prefer the older French term "nouveau riche." It works with the Dubai-chic element better. You could use "player," as in "playah" if you are well versed in urban lingo.

But I have to admit that the food surprised me. I was expecting a bland fusion cuisine with mushy risottos and some bogus Thai chicken dish taking the center place. It was much better and more imaginative than I thought.

I ordered a tuna carpaccio as appetizer. It was served with a pleasant sweet and sour sauce along with hot sliced peppers and fresh coriander. And fresh lime juice.

My main course, a nice filet, was cooked to perfection and was served by itself with nothing else. Yet the filet did not release its juices, which meant that the meat was rested for five minutes before being served. And that is good indication that the cuisine people knew what they were doing. The accompanying fries were truly cut as pommes allumettes.

My dinner companion had escargots as appetizer. They were unusual, not simply because you almost never find snails in hip restaurants, but also this a basic dish quite easy to cook badly. In this case the escargots were cooked perfectly and the persillade (garlic, butter and parsley mixture) was excellent.

Her main course was a lightly pan seared tuna served in the Niçoise fashion. I tried some of it and it was quite tasty, though a bit salty probably due to the addition of a generous dollop of soy sauce to finish the dish.

Our deserts were the weakest part of the meal but they were edible.

Would I go back? Probably not. My surroundings are as important as the meal for me and a Dubai-chic decor and urban hipster clientele would take away from my enjoyment of the food but I wouldn't not recommend it to people, as the food was unexpectedly good.



A friend of mine reacted by saying that in one blog I deal with Muslim Brothers, in the other with Costes Brothers!

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