I was happy when I recently received an invitation to attend a cocktail dînatoire at Mavrommatis, a Greek restaurant located at 42, rue Daubenton in the 5th arrondissement in Paris. This would be an opportunity to learn more about Greek food and to get reacquainted with the restaurant that I have reviewed on two occasions for our Paris Insights – The Restaurant Review page.
I last reviewed the restaurant on March 19, 2012, and at that time was quite pleased with the cuisine, ambiance, and service there. “Has the food changed? Has it gotten even better?” I wondered. I was soon to find out that it would exceed all expectations!
I was one of the first to arrive and had a chance to stroll freely around the two handsome dining rooms before other guests came. I admired the tables set with food and drink and read some of the table cards that announced the names of the dishes:
• Crevette obsiblue, pates avoine, jus de crustacé, condiment roquette, artichaut et mastiha (Obsiblue prawns with oat pasta, crustacean juice, rocket, artichoke and mastic condiment)
• Bar de ligne mariné aux algues et citron (Bass marinated in algae and lemon)
• Saint Jacques grillées marinées aux épices (Grilled scallops marinated in spices)
• Huitres au raifort, crème de choux fleur et mastiha (Oysters with horseradish, cream of cauliflower and mastic)
• Chocolat et mastiha (Chocolate and mastic)
• Crème de lait à la fleur d’oranger et masthia (Cream of rice with orange blossom and mastic)
• Riz au lait et mastiha (Rice pudding with mastic)
One can readily see from the names of these dishes that masthia (mastic) was a featured ingredient. Mastic is a resin from the mastic tree, traditionally produced on the Greek island of Chios. To my taste, it has a mild flavor of pine.
I started the evening with a cocktail made from Metaxa, a grape brandy fortified with Muscat grape, herbs, and rose petals. The cocktail was mixed with Enosis (a mastic liqueur), tonic water, and mint. It was a refreshing beverage with a nutty flavor.
Waiters began circulating, presenting platters of warm, savory appetizers, including keftèdes and crispy pittas.
I also enjoyed a goblet of red mullet and tarmasalata (fish paste) in a lobster mousse flavored with mastic, all topped with a layer of green-apple gelatin.
By the time dessert was served, I was quite sated, but couldn’t resist trying a dark chocolate ganache. It, too, was flavored with mastic.
I met two of the founders of Mavrommatis, several members of the staff, and several VIPs.
Madame Moussoulos told me that in her opinion Mavrommatis serves the best Mediterranean cuisine in all of Europe. (That would include Cyprus and Greece!)
A good time was had by all!
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