Visiting a restaurant that you loved many years ago is a bit like seeing an old flame after a long long time. You can’t help but wonder, will the food be as good? Is the atmosphere as enchanting as it was, and sadly, will you be disappointed again by the changes that are so common in the dining world? Or worse yet, will it be closed?
Le 404, the classic Moroccan Parisian eatery has always held a place of high regard in our family’s memories. We ate their often in groups big and small, but lately had not returned to Rue De Gravillieres in the 3rd in many years. But as soon as we walked in the door we knew we were visiting a beautiful, exotic and familiar friend.
I am also happy to say that for the most part the food has not lost a step.
Dinner started with a hot mezze sampler, a variety of delicate bourekas, cheese, chicken and vegetable. All crisp, delicate and perfectly fried.
A good Moroccan meal begins and ends with the couscous, the semoule. Look at how it separates, each grain should fall off the other. It was ridiculously light. Perfection. I can never ever do this at home. Period.
Equally important is the sauce, a vegetable bouillon that you pour over your main courses. Just spicy enough and full of carrots, turnips and zucchini.
We ordered the Royale, with lamb shank, chicken skewers and to be sure some extra Merguez and a plate of Kefta (meatballs).
The only dish of the evening that lacked depth was the chicken tangine. While beautiful, it felt recently assembled and could have used more spice and lemons.
As the evening came to a close the chef came by visiting tables. We told him about our story and he told us he had been behind the stove at Le 404 for 19 years. Now that is staying power. Hugs followed all around.
Later he returned to pour the classic mint tea from on high and served us a variety of delectable unique pastries chosen from the desert tray and sliced oranges in honey and cinnamon.
Total cost of the meal for 4 persons, including a bottle of some more than adequate Algerian Rose was 160 euro, about 190 dollars including tax and tip. We emerged one happy family into a warm Paris night.
Le 404, 69 Rue des Gravilliers, 75003 Paris, France. Telephone: +33 1 42 74 57 81
You can make reservations on line at lafourchette.com.