I was very happy with my recent stay at Mama Shelter’s Paris location. I stayed there because its creator, Cyril Aouizerate, also has the restaurant Maimonide of Brooklyn (MOB), a very cool vegan restaurant in New York. It was after eating there and talking to an employee that I found out about Mama Shelter, so when I was planning my trip to Paris, I knew just where I had to stay.
It just so happens that the hotel has a fabulous restaurant, and a pizzeria and bar. I ate at the restaurant after a long day of sightseeing and exploring the city. There aren’t many dinner spots near the hotel, and it was too late to venture very far, but I’m glad because otherwise I might not have tried the hotel’s restaurant. Sometimes hotel restaurants can be not very good and pricey, catering to the guests who don’t feel like going out, but going to Mama Shelter’s restaurant is like going out. It’s very popular with Parisenes, not just guests. The lively atmosphere transports weary travelers into a vibrant dining scene that was packed minus a few tables.
Browsing the menu, which assures readers that “Mama LOVES you” and “Mama FEEDS you,” everything looked amazing. I settled on the MAMA Salad with iceberg lettuce, cucumber, radish, red onions, tomatoes, and hard-boiled egg, to start, and the vegetarian parmentier with tarragon, ratatouille, and parmesan cheese, to finish. I also tried a glass of the 2012 Cotes de Gascogne Colombard Sauvignon from Domain de Ménard, and although I’m no sommeiller, and generally don’t even like wine, this one was actually really good. There was no after taste, and it was very fruity; it pretty much tasted like juice.
The salad was very good although there was an overload of cherry tomatoes. The egg was cooked perfectly: very soft, and I think the yolk was taken out and mixed with a bit of mayonnaise and then put back in. The parmentier, which means pie, was served in the oval Pyrex dish in which it was baked. It consisted mostly of potatoes with some pepper, onion, and other vegetables typical of a ratatouille, but it didn’t have as much flavor as I had imagined. Other items of interest on the menu: green lentils, vegetarian summer rolls, crispy chicken salad, eggplant mushroom ravioli, macaroni and Gruyère, seared salmon with vegetables and chinese noodles, Thai sauce spices and coffee roasted codfish, and grilled flank steak with homemade fries. The menu goes on, accommodating many tastes while remaining within a reasonable price range. In euros my salad was 14, the parmentier was 15, and the wine was 6. Some items on the dessert menu were apple crumble, handmade sorbet and ice cream, and molten chocolate cake.
The decor of the restaurant (and hotel) designed by Philippe Starck, who seems to have thought of everything and more, is a whole other topic, but vital to the dining experience. The blackboard-painted ceiling is covered with a mélange of pastel-colored chalk graffiti. The playfulness continues to the tube lighting chandelier above one long table that is completely covered with kids’ pool toys, all bright, and some animal-like. Seating consists of a mix of couches, patio chairs, and stools. Tables are also lit by votive candles and dim lamps. Pots hang from the ceiling near the kitchen area, some over lightbulbs, making it hard to decipher where decoration ends and practicality begins, which is to say, the case for the whole establishment, which makes partaking in any aspect of it very entertaining.