Le Grain de Sel is a small restaurant, providing an intimate atmosphere without making one feel crowded in by other patrons. Waitstaff were attentive. The bar selection was not particularly extensive, but what they did have was very good.
Our appetizers were excellent: I had fried mussels with mixture of wide noodles cooked perfectly with saffron, squash and orange; it was topped with long unwieldy strands of watercress, the absence of which would have made the dish easier to eat but less beautiful visually. My dinner partner had the beet salad, which he described as "excellent." We decided to split a second appetizer of black pudding, a house speciality which neither of us thought we would really want but which we wanted to sample. It was good -- paired with chocolate sauce and banana -- the fact that neither of us would order it again has more to do with the fact that I guess we just don't like black pudding -- it was no reflection on the quality or the originality of the presentation.
Main courses were good; venison with a blueberry sauce and halibut. Neither of us licked the plate clean, but both of us were happy with our food. The chef came out to greet us and to check on everything, and that made the meal all the more enjoyable. The bread served with the meal was fantastic.
Here's the reason I am giving Le Grain de Sel 4 stars instead of 5: the restaurant offers a "tasting menu" but only if all the parties at a table order it. I don't like that -- I think a person should be able to do the tasting even if the other people at the table do not -- but I get it. However, the waitress could not give any indication as to what would be IN the tasting menu. She said it would be up to the inspiration of the chef. That's like playing russian roulette. It's one thing to say "you will have five courses; one will have shellfish, one will have game or another meat, one will have this or that." But to say "we will serve you five courses and you will not know anything about them until they're on your table" -- well, sorry, but that's not my idea of dining out.
Having said all of that, I heartily recommend Le Grain de Sel. And to the tabulae rosae out there -- try the tasting menu (if everyone else at your table will) -- it's probably fantastic!
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