When Guillaume Delage struck out on his own after paying dues in some serious three-star kitchens, his restaurant Jadis was hailed as a marvel. Dorie Greenspan called it “really good… and really surprising.” Almost everything there, she said, was “beautiful, delicious and not at all what it seemed.” Alexander Lobrano named it “one of the best new bistros to have opened in a very long time” and said “I can’t wait to go back.”  John Talbott called Jadis it a revelation and predicted that Delage would heed “the call of the big hotels in 2 years.”

Two years later, Delage has gone a different route. Instead of a big hotel, he’s just opened a second place called Aux Verres de Contact. I met two friends there on Monday night (they’re open both on Monday and throughout August) under the dual impressions that it would be both a wine bar and really good. I didn’t find it to be either.

Wine bars and wine bistros are a wonderful trend in Paris because they afford diners the flexibility to taste and share a larger number of smaller plates. They also tend to be cheaper than a three-course meal at a good bistro. Many are casual satellites of in-demand restaurants (Frenchie, Le Chateaubriand, Le Comptoir), providing an alternative for diners who can’t book a table at the mothership.

Aux Verres de Contact seems to want to be a wine bar, but it has little in common with the aforementioned attributes. It’s a satellite of Jadis, but Jadis itself is no longer difficult to reserve. The look is more casual (if metal garden chairs are to be equated with whimsy), but the prices are not. Aux Verres de Contact might even be more expensive than Jadis. A grilled steak with pepper sauce and waffle fries is €23 at Jadis. The same dish at the “wine bar” is €25, but any accompaniment (twelve soggy fries for €4) must be ordered seperately. The same is true for other copy-paste menu items. It’s neither generous, nor interesting. For a point of comparison, the same onglet at Au Passage, served with baby cucumbers that the chef has marinated in fish eggs to create a riff on kimchi and steak, costs only €9.

Their selection of snacks and starters mimics the menu of small plates at other wine bars (Frenchie Bar à Vins, Aux Deux Amis), but they’re less successful and double the price. Take, for example, the entrée crème glacée de haricots coco, encornets à la plancha et palette Ibérique: the puréed coco beans were satisfying, if not particularly cold, but the squid added little more than a chewy texture. This dish, whose components I struggle to remember only three days later, costs €16. By contrast, a dish of tandoori octupus that I think about every single day, even though I ate it three weeks ago, costs only €10 at Le Dauphin.

In a nutshell: Aux Verres de Contact might be fine for certain occasions (if you’re strolling near Notre Dame and want some better-than-average wine and charcuterie), but on the whole it doesn’t add much to the gastronomic landscape. As my table mate observed, it’s too expensive to be a neighborhood joint, and too boring to be a cross-town destination.

Aux Verres de Contact
52 boulevard Saint-Germain, 75005
Tel: 01 46 34 58 02
Snacks from €6-15, starters from €10-18, mains from €18-29
Closed Sunday

Read additional reviews on Paris by Mouth

3 Responses to Review: Aux Verres de Contact

  1. Michael from NYC says:

    Sadly, I have to agree with all that you’ve written. I had high hopes for this place, namely because I am a huge fan of the innovative food, warmth (sans the indoor-outdoor grey carpeting) and price value of Jadis. Except for the adorable beagle, Forest, and the Jadis waitress-now-chef (who is approachable and charming [her name escapes me (sorry)]), the place is pretty much “all wrong.”

    On an interesting side note, my “off” experience at Aux Verres de Contact included some awkward sexism on behalf of our male waiter. While my female companion was ordering for us, he blatantly indicated that a certain dish would be most appropriate for the man. (My poor French picked that up…I was mortified).

    And, while I will admit that I eschew extended discussions of Parisian meal prices, the above-mentioned comparisons of costs between this place, Jadis and new, foodie satellite wine bars needed to be voiced. If I am not mistaken, wine bars are money making ventures because of mark-up on wine. We all know that and usually condone it. Nevertheless, a simple rule of thumb is that a satellite wine bars should NEVER have near-identical dished costing more than its parent restaurant. Loyal Jadis customers will come here, but after the sticker-shock and their dentures falling out, they are unlikely to return. Too bad the lack of amazing & innovative food won’t ease the pain.

  2. Malcolm Cole says:

    Bravo to Meg for a very thorough review–she really hits the nail on the head here, and I also completely agree with Michael. If I’ve already complained about the prices at this restaurant on Paris by Mouth, I’d further add that we experienced some of the chilliest ‘hospitality’ we’ve encountered in Paris for a longtime. Longtime Brits in Paris, we both speak perfectly decent French, but the waiter first corrected my wife’s French–she hadn’t made a mistake, he hadn’t been listening, and then attempted to speak to us in English. All told, this place lacks generosity and has no soul.

  3. We tried this last week by accident. The atmosphere wasn’t amazing but the food was really delicious! I also really enjoyed taking a drink at the bar first — I love any place where you can watch the chefs work. However I agree, there’s something a bit lacking. A little oomph.

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