The Experienced Travelers have passed Léo le Lion in the rue Duvivier many times over the years. The online reviews were positive, so it was time to try this neighborhood restaurant. This was Barbara and Chris’ first dinner out in Paris, and we wanted it to be grand.
Barbara and I joined another lady reviewing the menu. When I asked if she had eaten here, she said no and immediately started pointing up the street toward Le Florimond. Once I assured her we had reservations at Le Florimond the following week, we debated the finer points of the menu and she agreed that we should carry on. Was this a premonition? Would we spend the evening chez Léo wishing we were down the street chez Laurent?
So in we went to a cozy room done in dark red and pink - hues that will flatter every girl’s complexion. The tables were a tad snug even for Paris, and those of us in straight-backed chairs wriggled and shifted our way through the meal. But the meal was what we were there for, and so, dear Readership let’s dig in.
Nurse had shrimp with a risotto that she’s still talking about. Our waiter explained that the arborio rice was cooked in chicken broth with fresh basil, a touch of garlic, salt and pepper. Simplicity at it’s best. I don’t recall that she shared her shrimp, which tells me all I need to know.
My filet de bar was similar to sea bass and the lentil cream was a wonderful surprise. I had to make choices here, and decided to leave the broccoli behind in favor of the fish, sauce and mashed potatoes. Altogether, it was a wise strategy.
The duck in cider sauce arrived looking like it had been passed over a match, so Chris took the risk and ask for it to be cooked a little longer. This is a Parisian restaurant so we took cover and expected a tirade of abuse from the waiter, or worse, the chef. What a relief when her dinner returned, cooked the way she wanted it, accompanied by nothing more than a smile. What they said about us back in the kitchen is a mystery and it shall remain thus.
Barbara’s scallops were perfectly done and brought a smile of delight. They must have gone well with the chardonnay. I don’t know why we had chardonnay since Barbara doesn’t like it, but maybe the scallops made her forget. Better than needing the chardonnay to forget the scallops.
The food was satisfying and inventive. And it was a great meal for Barbara and Christine to inaugurate their dining experience in Paris. Our meal came to 118 euros for four plats and the bottle of wine. We thought the entrées were a bit expensive and decided to forgo them.
So why did we decide to finish our wine and get dessert elsewhere? We think the room felt too cramped, even though it wasn’t full. Maybe it was those straight chairs. Maybe it was the waiter who pronounced “no kiss for you” when we opted not to have dessert.
It’s not that we don’t recommend Léo le Lion. We appreciated the quality and care that went into our meals, but there was something we can’t define that made us ready to move on after dinner. So tell us about your experience at Léo le Lion and help the ETs bring closure to our questions!
Addendum: A Word About The Coats
I know you’re going to ask. Barbara and I independently brought new bright green raincoats. I can’t tell you how many people waited for us to raise closed umbrellas and lead a tour group back to the bus. I decided to break with the typical Parisian black coat and “go green” knowing I would be easy to find in any Paris crowd. So there.