It was thanks to offer we couldn’t refuse on the restaurant booking website The Fork (40% off the bill!) that we discovered Mortensen, a new restaurant not far from the train station Gare d’Austerlitz.
The comments on the web were very positive, but our dinner wasn’t quite as great as we had hoped. Here’s why…
Mortensen opened in December 2018 after four months of remodelling. We were a little surprised to see the names of the owners (we think) painted on the door to the restaurant: Lili and François. Strangely, this is also the name of their Facebook page instead of Mortensen.
While the look of the place is ‘modern’, they don’t have an Instagram or Twitter account, and even their aforementioned Facebook page isn’t very active. At time of writing, there had only been one post – a photo of some fresh fish – in the last two months. ?
But these are just details. Let’s go in!
The room is small, with a large tinted mirror in one corner giving the illusion of more space. The open kitchen takes up nearly a quarter of the space, and it’s here that chef Jesus Campo Girardo (previously at the Hotel Costes) prepares his dishes. The menu boasts that everything is made and cooked in-house.
If you like brown and beige, you’ll feel immediately at ease at Mortensen. We were a little less enthusiastic, and the giant pieces of modern art filling one wall will not be to everyone’s taste.
That said, we were warmly and sincerely welcomed, and were eager to check out the menu.
Our visit coincided with a special offer giving 40% off the bill, which is pretty exceptional! That offers is now over, but you can still get 20% off by booking through The Fork, which is still a really good deal, as the reduction also covers drinks (why not splash out on a nice bottle of wine?) and because even at full price the dishes are not expensive (the dearest main course is 21€ s’applique même sur les boissons (profitez-en pour prendre une bouteille de vin un peu plus cher que d’habitude ?) et d’autre part parce que les).
While deciding what to eat, we were served a black olive tapenade. While a nice gesture, it had pickles mixe in with it, and the taste was very odd. We didn’t finish it.
After having ordered a bottle of wine, we choose our starters ) three big ravioli with Italian white truffle, and what the menu described (in a sort of stream of consciousness style) as “heart of lettuce avocado citrus lemon olive oil”.
The dishes sound enticing, but the presentation of the menu could really do with an upgrade…
The ravioli arrived in a shallow bowl with lots of very (possibly too) creamy sauce. The pasta was so al dente that we were pretty sure it was actually undercooked.
The lettuce heart, usually small very crunchy leaves, turned out to be just medium-sized lettuce, served as a huge portion, dripping with oil. Personally, we don’t like fruit with our salad, and together with the dressing it made it difficult to find any real taste.
These two starters did not really impress us. Both were too big, and too bland. Also, we almost full already! Even the table itself (way too small) had trouble containing everything, especially as the tapenade amuse-bouche had still not been removed ?
For the main dish, we chose a pan-fried Black Angus flank with a pepper sauce, French fries and green beans, a classic French dish. We liked the sauce, and the meat was tasty, but our lack of hunger made eating the French fries (even some of them) unimaginable!
After the white truffle in the starters, we chose a main dish with black truffle, finely grated onto a creamy risotto. We tried to appreciate it, despite no longer being very hungry, but the rice wasn’t as tasty as we would have liked and once again there seemed to be far too much oil.
The time had come to order dessert (all homemade), and it was difficult to choose, as we were really very full by this point. Normally we would have jumped on the French toast, but that evening we went for something lighter – flaky pastry with raspberries and a light, vanilla-infused cream. This came sweetly presented and was a light as we had anticipated, with firm fruit and rather neutral-tasting cream. Not the best dessert we’ve ever eaten, but a proficient end to our meal.
Strangely, our so-so experience at Mortensen seems to be at odds with the comments on TripAdvisor and The Fork.
On those two sites, at least 90% of the comments are really positive, so perhaps we were just there on an off night? Or the chef’s day off?
As the restaurant is fairly new, it only seems reasonable o give them a second chance, and with 20% off the bill when booking through The Fork, you won’t burn a hole in your pocket. Make us proud, Mortensen!