Marly Ain't Me
It’s almost impossible not to fall in love with Paris. It’s not a fictional cinematic creation. Actually, it’s a very real atmosphere that comes from an attitude that the city has. Formed from how unabashed it is about what’s important to their culture. Indeed, near the top of that list is most definitely Art and Food. Both of which can certainly be extensions to demonstrate love and, at their best, explore emotions.
You can walk the majority of Paris, arm in arm, stumbling between great examples of these. One of the most famous is the glass pyramids that act as grand sky lights. They bathe one of the most famous museums in the world in light – La Louvre. So given my desire to find good views to sit and appreciate beautiful sights, coupled with great food, it was my Parisian instincts that took a friends suggestion to visit Le Café Marly. A restaurant which is a part of one of the stately buildings that overlook the courtyard.
As we walk onto the balcony of the restaurant, a friendly waiter asks whether we’d like to sit outside or in. This feels a little like asking whether you’d like to opt for a room with a sea view. We, of course, chose to sit out, even at a slightly lower temperature in December. It’s still well positioned to make the most of the midday sun. Immediately we are greeted with a great sense of urgency by the staff, ready to usher us into a drink and asking if we’ve chosen something to eat. It’s not that attentive service is bad, far from it. But over the course of the meal, there’s a great sense here that you are temporary and filling a chair that could be for another paying customer.
Nonetheless, we select some aperitifs. A glass of pink champagne and a gin and tonic are unceremoniously placed before us. Maybe it’s the Englishman in me, but a G&T without any ice is missing a rather key element. Hope’s are higher for the Dim Sum we shared, but the steaming pillowy cases lack any real wow or punch of flavour. Despite avoiding the usual pitfall of the filling being overly minced there’s almost no seasoning present. A seared steak tartare and a green bean salad are very good, however. The steak has been generously plied with small white jewels of garlic and seasoned well. All binding together with the light and giving slivers of steak. The green bean salad is also well made but comes at quite a steep cost for essentially beans and mushrooms. The €17 markup is more than I can fathom.
As waiters rushed around us, looking to urge us forward in our afternoon slouch, there’s a sense that you’re not really wanted here. You’re not really being invited to lounge and admire the magnificent view. It’s not only the salad that’s expensive, la addition totalled up to a sliver of mushroom under €160. This is more than the previous night’s entire meal at Fraiche. Quite a steep cost, despite the two glasses of champagne. Or at least, certainly enough of a cost to be left to enjoy our afternoon more casually.
Only occasionally that something really drags you out of the romanticism of Paris. It’s not in the big things that love’s demonstrated, really. It’s in the small things, the little touches, the attention to details and the effort. And it’s there that Café Marly, unfortunately, falls down. It’s lacking the soul of the rest of Paris. For all of its wonderful views and refined ingredients, Café Marly seems to have slightly missed the point. It feels like it tried to capitalise on the attitude. It’s tried to monetise love and romance. To that end, it ultimately is no different to the gentleman stood by the pyramids, in front of a blanket covered in miniature Eiffel Towers and selfie sticks.
Beautiful views don't make up for eye watering prices
Café Marly has a stunning view for a romantic setting, but that’s where the love affair ends. Whether it is the disinterested service that seems more focused on turning around tables, or the eye water prices for simple starters like the French bean salad, keep your money in your pocket and head to a bistro instead.