Food for thought and not only that (4)

Clement Marot ***/*

16 rue de Pas, 59000 Lille, France 

I wondered if we'd be lucky to get a table at lunch at this Michelin-starred restaurant. The main seating area got filled up right after we had managed to get a table without a reservation. The decor was lovely, wine list exhaustive and pricey, the chef gracious and welcoming, however, I felt like inspiration was not a part of the menu. The menu du jour had a Flemish focus, which was perfect for the grey clouds, occasional snow and drizzle that day. Having spent so much time in Lille I had not yet had a chance to try Flemish food stapes besides mussels. I ordered Terrine de Poisson for an appetizer and Carbonnade Flamande for the main dish. The terrine arrived beautifully served. This colorful dish looked quite lovely with a few layers of fish and veggies but I could hardly make out the taste of fish and both the homogenized texture and the bland taste were a bit disappointing. The Carbonnade was very good but I had scooped an equally good Carbonnade off the Big Nomad's plate in Ghent in a side-street restaurant. The Big Nomad's Foie Gras Terrine was served on a bed of greens and Coq au Vin was pretty good, as I was told.

I have to admit that my expectations were set high for this place and they were not quite met. The food was quite good but only good.

L'assiette du marche ****

61 Rue Monnaie

Both the interior and the exterior of the restaurant are beautiful and it is a pleasure to be eating here. For the first time in France we had to ask for the English menu as the list was quite extensive and featuring lots of out of ordinary ingredients. I had a Salad with smoked herring and apples - an usual twist on a Russian vinaigrette, with refreshing and interesting textures. The main dish was fish (can't remember which one though) quick-fried to perfect crispy crust and tender flaky meat, accompanied by butter-sauteed leeks the taste of which still haunt me. The rum baba, which looked deceivingly simple, melted in my mouth.

The cuisine here really excels at great combination of tastes and textures. It is wonderfully-prepared, well-served by impeccable waiters in a great setting. One of the best restaurants I've visited in Lille!

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