« Tickets For Stitt Book Event | Main | New Review: Bottega »

Lakeview to Get French Restaurant

A new French restaurant is scheduled to open within a few weeks in Lakeview, in the spot formerly home to Los Angeles restaurant.

The Birmingham News reports that Jean Evens Estinfort, who studied at cooking school in his native France and has worked at Five Points Grill and Lakeview Oyster House, is the chef and owner of the new Cafe de Paris.

Cafe de Paris will be a classic French restaurant. That's something we don't currently have in the Magic City. Chez FonFon is Frank Stitt's riff on a French bistro, but that's as close as we get. Years ago we loved Bon Appetit (where Daniel George is now in Mountain Brook), but the owners decided to move to France. Across the street there was Rue de Provence, which closed up during the anti-French sentiment in the early days of the Iraq war. A French restaurant in Vestavia City Center (which had the most incredible lobster bisque topped with puff pastry) did not survive, either. We never got around to trying Cafe Julien in Vestavia before it closed.

Here's hoping that Cafe de Paris will have a more successful future in the Magic City! We'll give them a month or so to get settled and give you a review.

Posted on Tuesday, October 21, 2008 at 12:31PM by Registered CommenterDeborah Lockridge in | Comments5 Comments

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments (5)

After dining here I felt compelled to write a quick tag here. Cafe de Paris was probably the worst meal I've ever had in Birmingham. I'm not a negative guy and I'm not a food critic, but I've eaten and cooked a lot over the years. I will warn you this is no Chez Fonfon or Chez Lulu or any quality Birmingham restaurant (Highlands, Ocean, Hot and Hot, etc...). The drinks were not very good. It took hours to get food. My fish was quite overcooked (like chewing on rubber) and my guest's food was not edible. The tables around us also had long waits for food, and I noticed a lot of uneaten portions on their plates. In the restaurant's defense, they had an overwhelming crowd the night we went. Hopefully, the restaurant will hit its stride and the food will improve, but for now I warn you to stay away.

February 14, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterewpeter

I could not disagree more with the above reader's comments. A single bad experience is not enough to keep me from visiting a restaurant again and encouraging diners to stay away from a particular restaurant does not help to improve the place, nor does it help it to survive. It is regrettable that Café de Paris stumbled the first few months after its opening; it has since regrouped and is a welcome new addition to the Birmingham scene.

This past Saturday evening two friends and I visited Café de Paris for a birthday dinner and had a perfectly delightful evening. We were seated quite quickly and our waiter appeared promptly.

We started our evening with an order of carpaccio which was the best I've had anywhere. Served spicy arugula, a dressing of pesto vinaigrette, and topped with shaved Parmesan, the paper-thin sliced raw beef had the consistency of butter.

We were all in a seafood mood this evening; we ordered the salmon and grouper--both pan seared with a white wine cilantro sauce--as well as the mahi-mahi--breaded with cornflake flour and pan seared. All three dishes were quite excellent; the salmon was quite flavorful and melted in our mouths, the grouper was crisp and tender, and the mahi-mahi was the best dish by far with the cornflake crust giving it a unique texture. The mahi-mahi was also served with a dusting of Spanish paprika (pimetón, which differs from its Hungarian cousin in that it has a distinctly smoky flavor) on the edge of the plate which--when paired with the fish--gave it a barbecue flavor.

For sides we all ordered the cabbage which was simmered in beef broth and seasoned with cumin--which made us think it a more North African dish than French but was our favorite by far--a steamed vegetable medley, and a rice Pilaf--which, regrettably, was quite forgetful.

For desert we shared the Fondant au Chocolat--truffle chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream--and the crème brulee au romarin--rosemary custard topped with browned sugar. Both were excellent and the crème brulee was especially delightful with the rosemary giving it a slight but distinct resinous flavor which was quite divine.

While the wine selection is still a bit limited there are a few--and quite affordable--gems to be found. We shared a bottle of Chateau Fleur de Rigaud Bordeaux with our appetizer and the Pierre Sparr Pinot Blanc--which was a crisp light white with a grassy bouquet; a perfect accompaniment for fish--with our entrées.

Throughout the evening our courses appeared promptly, our waiter was attentive, knowledgeable, and helpful, and the experience pure delight. We found the space warm and cozy and the environment conducive to conversation and good times.

Café de Paris is a new favorite and we are sure to return many times.

March 2, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBarrie Limerick

We visited Cafe de Paris on April 4, 2009. We had a wonderful dining experince. Atmosphere very plesant and conducive to conversation, pleaseant wait staff, simply wonder food, great wine selection in that it was small and not page after page. We will return to try the many other dishers that peaked our interest.

April 5, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSatisfied Customer

I ate at the Rue de Provence many times and always had a wonderful experience. The restaurant closed because of tax problems not the Iraq war. The owner didn't pay his bills. If only I had known at the time, I could have paid them for him and still had a great place to eat.

May 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterHappy

In response to "Happy"'s post above, the truth is my restaurant closed due to significant decline of business in direct relation to the Iraq War. I do not know where this person contrived information regarding my taxes but I can certainly attest to the fact that my taxes were always paid as well as my employees when I unfortunately had to close the business.

July 14, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermario orsolini

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>