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Le BAT, Paris

September 9, 2014

Our rather hastily-decided trip to Paris started with the Eurostar from St. Pancras International to the Gare du Nord, a brief interlude at a cafe in the 3rd arrondissement while frantically attempting to contact our Airbnb host, then off to an early dinner at Le BAT, short for bar à tapas. Strangely, Le BAT is nestled amongst Starbucks and McDonald’s on what appears to be a street full of international chains.

In the evenings, they specialise in tapas and small plates, all priced at 7€, with a few larger plates costing 10-12€. The great thing about being a tourist on the continent is that we tend to eat much earlier than our European cousins – so we were there in time for happy hour (7-8pm), which gets you a glass of wine and a plate of tapas for 9€. Such a pleasant surprise after that Airbnb scare!

As far as I can tell, the tapas menu changes daily according to what’s available and in season, as what we ate in August is different from the menu on the website. There isn’t a clear genre that defines the dishes at Le BAT; flavour combinations are pulled from different sources. There’s an unmissable influence from Japan, but mainly in the form of condiments or raw fish.

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We started with a beef tartare with watermelon gazpacho and pomegranate vinegar, which was surprisingly delicious. The watermelon was an inspired addition to the beef tartare, and the pomegranate vinegar added the requisite acidity, but it was overall a little too sweet for my liking. Very unusual, though. A shrimp and melon salad with buffalo mozzarella was simple, but extremely well balanced for a salad. The marinated tuna salad with pickled beetroot and ink squid dressing was a bit of a letdown – it had been showered liberally with sesame oil, drowning out any other flavours. The squid ink dressing just turned the tuna an unappealing grey colour.

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The best of the night were the duck and foie gras croquettes with a hint of chilli. Expertly fried, not greasy, and the duck meat was enriched with just a touch of foie gras, just enough so that the livery taste was barely distinguishable but still provided the mouth-coating oiliness. These were so moreish we ordered another portion! The marinated bonito, bisque, celery, and peanut dish was a bit of a letdown. The fish was a bit mushy and the bisque didn’t really have a distinguished flavour. However, they were very generous with the portion size and you could actually taste the fish, unlike the marinated tuna swimming in sesame oil.

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Of course, we tried all of their larger plates (there were only 3, anyway). Grilled monkfish with citrus and vanilla was a bit off. The monkfish was cooked perfectly, with the meatiness of lobster but none of the rubberiness. But the dressing was strangely bitter, as if they used marmalade. Maybe it works for some people, but I really hate marmalade!

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A grilled cod with tomato and galangal was better, very summery with a lovely display of colours. The cod was a touch overcooked but only just. I also couldn’t really taste the galangal – perhaps ginger would have been a better option? Nevertheless, it wasn’t a bad dish by any means, and I preferred this to the monkfish.

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The grilled beef, tarragon, and smoked olive oil was the best of the larger plates. Again, the beef was a bit overdone as they said it would come medium rare (it was more medium, erring towards well-done), but surprisingly it was still very tender and juicy. The smoked olive oil was a lovely accompaniment to the beef and all the flavours were in harmony.

Our bill came to 33€ a head, including a glass of wine each.

Overall, I really enjoyed Le BAT, and it stands out as a shining gem in the midst of Hard Rock Cafe and other tourist traps on the Grands Boulevards. Sure, it might not have hits all the time, but it’s adventurous cooking, it’s fun, and it’s great value to boot! Thank you Chowhound for the recommendation!

Le BAT

16 Boulevard Montmartre
75009 Paris, France

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