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Felice

Mama Shelter

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I ate at the ultra trendy Mama Shelter last night, located in the newly-opened Philippe Stark designed hotel of the same name. It's located in the quartier Saint Blaise in the 20th, an area most visitors to Paris never see. The rue Saint Blaise has a lovely village feel, with its cobblestone streets which stretch out from the St-Germain de Charonne church.

The hotel itself is very cool and is certainly one of the best values in Paris. Rooms start at only 79€ a night and look nothing like the shabby digs you find for the same price in the 5th. Instead you get sleek modern design, comfy bedding, an Apple iMac in your room, wifi, TV, DVD, and even a microwave and a mini-bar.

The restaurant is equally inviting and obviously a hit with the bobo crowd. The loft-like space has an industrial yet warm feel, with graffiti lined walls and interesting touches that you would imagine from Stark. Towards the center you'll find a large circular bar, something you don't always see in Paris. Further along towards the kitchen are communal tables, adding to the convivial feeling.

And the food? Well, the menu "imagined" by Alain Senderens was surprisingly dull. Foie gras, escargot, smoked salmon were amongst the starters, with lamb curry, duck Parmentier and steak frites for a few of the mains. The menu says " to do something simple, is essentially the most complex. To concentrate on the essential, to revisit the classics, to imagine food meant to shared, these were the reflections which went into the menu you find in your hands" Okay, I get that and am all for this type of cooking. And indeed, my very simply prepared leeks vinaigrette, were beautifully presented and quite good as were the other entrées. Unfortunately, my main dish—lamb curry—was just fair, and at 24€ and from a chef like Alain Senderens, I would hope for more. It was a bit fatty and certainly nothing out of the ordinary. I, unfortunately, didn't try any of the other dishes, but heard similar comments from friends. The steak frites however, looked great, but at 29€ I would hope it would be.

And we were all perplexed as to why they would decide to have such traditional cuisine in such an interesting, exciting space. Couldn't they come up with something more exciting than duck parmentier? (which by the way I adore and did look quite good) I could understand if the level of cooking was up to that of some of the great neo-bistros in town, but from what I had it didn’t appear to be.

And so I had very mixed feeling about Mama Shelter and will be curious to hear and read what other people think. I would really like to love this place and have reason to trek to Bagnolet, but I am not convinced for the moment. I would definitely return for a drink, but I am not sure the food was tempting enough for a second time.

Mama Shelter

109 Rue Bagnolet, Paris 20


www.parisnotebook.wordpress.com

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It is my understanding that, in spite of packaging and contrary assumptions, the "Senderens-imagined" menu is not even available yet. In any case, I regret that Senderens seems to be focusing on his 401k right now rather than excellent food. It is a very sorry state of affairs and if the Senderens of the 90s showed the same lack of seriousness then I understand the nasty critics of the time.

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It is my understanding that, in spite of packaging and contrary assumptions, the "Senderens-imagined" menu is not even available yet.

Well, if that is the case, I will go back, but the menu definitely has his name on it now and says "le chef Alain Senderens a imaginé pour Mama Shelter une carte simple" and then goes on to say what I loosely translated above.

I really liked the spaced, but just imagined somethng more interesting (and good of course) to go with it.

Julot, I of course would be curious to hear your thoughts should you go.


www.parisnotebook.wordpress.com

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Phyllis: Excellent review; we need to hear more of them from you. Very helpful.

I ate at the ultra trendy Mama Shelter last night, located in the newly-opened Philippe Stark designed hotel of the same name.  It's located in the quartier Saint Blaise in the 20th, an area most visitors to Paris never see.    The rue Saint Blaise has a lovely village feel, with its cobblestone streets which stretch out from the St-Germain de Charonne church. 

The hotel itself is very cool and is certainly one of the best values in Paris.  Rooms start at only 79€ a night and look nothing like the shabby digs you find for the same price in the 5th.  Instead you get sleek modern design, comfy bedding, an Apple iMac in your room, wifi, TV, DVD, and even a microwave and a mini-bar. 

The restaurant is equally inviting and obviously a hit with the bobo crowd.  The loft-like space has an industrial yet warm feel, with graffiti lined walls and interesting touches that you would imagine from Stark.  Towards the center you'll find a large circular bar, something you don't always see in Paris.  Further along towards the kitchen are communal tables, adding to the convivial feeling. 

And the food?  Well, the menu "imagined" by Alain Senderens was surprisingly dull.  Foie gras, escargot, smoked salmon were amongst the starters, with lamb curry, duck Parmentier and steak frites for a few of the mains.  The menu says " to do something simple, is essentially the most complex.  To concentrate on the essential, to revisit the classics, to imagine food meant to shared, these were the reflections which went into the menu you find in your hands" Okay, I get that and am all for this type of cooking.  And indeed, my very simply prepared leeks vinaigrette, were beautifully presented and quite good as were the other entrées. Unfortunately, my main dish—lamb curry—was just fair, and at 24€ and from a chef like Alain Senderens, I would hope for more. It was a bit fatty and certainly nothing out of the ordinary.  I, unfortunately, didn't try any of the other dishes, but heard similar comments from friends.  The steak frites however, looked great, but at 29€ I would hope it would be.

And we were all perplexed as to why they would decide to have such traditional cuisine in such an interesting, exciting space.  Couldn't they come up with something more exciting than duck parmentier?  (which by the way I adore and did look quite good)  I could understand if the level of cooking was up to that of some of the great neo-bistros in town, but from what I had it didn’t appear to be.

And so I had very mixed feeling about Mama Shelter and will be curious to hear and read what other people think.  I would really like to love this place and have reason to trek to Bagnolet, but I am not convinced for the moment.  I would definitely return for a drink, but I am not sure the food was tempting enough for a second time. 

 

Mama Shelter

109 Rue Bagnolet, Paris 20


John Talbott

blog John Talbott's Paris

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Thanks for the great rundown, Felice! I've been thinking of heading over there to explore their drinks on offer and will probably do so next week....so, I'll be checking out that circular bar!


52 martinis blog

@52martinis

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Thanks for the great rundown, Felice!  I've been thinking of heading over there to explore their drinks on offer and will probably do so next week....so, I'll be checking out that circular bar!

I was actually thinking of you for this, defintely let us know how the drinks are as it seems like it should be a cool spot. They also have a DJ on certain nights, but we left before the music started.


www.parisnotebook.wordpress.com

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Too far! They make a big deal out of exploring the "real Paris", but it really is in the boondocks..that said, I myself will be sleeping there and testing it soon..


Anti-alcoholics are unfortunates in the grip of water, that terrible poison, so corrosive that out of all substances it has been chosen for washing and scouring, and a drop of water added to a clear liquid like Absinthe, muddles it." ALFRED JARRY

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Too far! They make a big deal out of exploring the "real Paris", but it really is in the boondocks..that said, I myself will be sleeping there and testing it soon..

I was hoping you would chime in FreshA. I would love to know your impressions. I agree that it is "too far", I lived near Alexandre Dumas and can't say that it was my favorite neighborhood. That said, there are intersting pockets and the hotel is pretty cool. It will not be a place for everyone.


www.parisnotebook.wordpress.com

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That's for sure. It's an interesting neighbourhood in many ways. I live not too far from the new 104 and will be watching how the quartier changes in coming months from its influence....


Anti-alcoholics are unfortunates in the grip of water, that terrible poison, so corrosive that out of all substances it has been chosen for washing and scouring, and a drop of water added to a clear liquid like Absinthe, muddles it." ALFRED JARRY

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Mama Shelter was better than I thought. The items we chose were quite basic: entrecote frites and duck parmentier, and the service was quite bad (but friendly and good natured). They're obviously overworked with all the press lately, but I thought it was a pretty interesting place, cosy, with a big mix of people.

Also, everyone is saying the restaurant is "remote controlled" by Senderens, but the chefs actually come from his own kitchens, hand chosen by him, and are also on his payroll, not the Mama Shelters..


Edited by fresh_a (log)

Anti-alcoholics are unfortunates in the grip of water, that terrible poison, so corrosive that out of all substances it has been chosen for washing and scouring, and a drop of water added to a clear liquid like Absinthe, muddles it." ALFRED JARRY

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Good to hear the food was okay...I get a little suspicious of highly trendy places.

I went there last night to try the cocktails and was thoroughly impressed by their drinks menu. You don't find things like martinez or brandy crusta in Paris bars. I'll blog on it later, but despite the distance (and it is a bit of a trek for me) I will definitely be going back for drinks again soon. The head bartender there knows his stuff (although my martini could have been slightly colder) but, this is a place with the resources (interesting menu, knowledgeable head bartender, good range of ingrediants) to deliver top notch drinks.


52 martinis blog

@52martinis

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I think all of that is probably because of the head bartender, who's done a lot of time in NY and London, and whose brother apparently owns PDT in New York. (that's what I heard anyway..)


Anti-alcoholics are unfortunates in the grip of water, that terrible poison, so corrosive that out of all substances it has been chosen for washing and scouring, and a drop of water added to a clear liquid like Absinthe, muddles it." ALFRED JARRY

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On the strength of this thread I stayed at Mama Shelter in early January, though I did not try the restaurant, not even for breakfast (which at 22 euros cost about 28% of my internet room rate, no thanks!). For two nights it was a fun adventure, including discovering the neighborhood and the trendier-than-thou hotel experience, though some of the good-looking design elements are impractical and the property is already showing wear. On a frigid Thursday night the restaurant was fully booked and many clients seemed known to the staff so there's definitely something that brings people back.


Looking for the next delicious new taste...

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A question to all:

Do I really have to go and eat there (I don't need a bed unless there's a fire in my building).

I've heard and read such conflicting reports.

surprisingly dull
does not inspire me.

John Talbott

blog John Talbott's Paris

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It's acceptable for the food and atmosphere (at least on weekends...) The breakfast was pretty terrible though...


Anti-alcoholics are unfortunates in the grip of water, that terrible poison, so corrosive that out of all substances it has been chosen for washing and scouring, and a drop of water added to a clear liquid like Absinthe, muddles it." ALFRED JARRY

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