15, rue Copreaux
Téléphone: 01 43 06 83 35
You know what it means when you ask your girlfriend if the guy she’s trying to set you up with is cute and she answers: “He’s really nice and he’s got a great sense of humor.” Well, if you ask me if the Clin d’Oeil makes up top notch cocktails, I’ll tell you: “The bartender’s really charming and the seats are comfy!”
Set off on a quiet street and open only six months or so, the Clin d’Oeil is probably not yet a destination restaurant and pulls in mainly a very local crowd. With a nod (or a “clin d’oeil“) to old Hollywood glamour, the owner has tried to create a classical American bar feel with dark wood, tastefully modern red vinyl chairs and head-shots of silver screen stars like Jean Harlow and Humphrey Bogart decorating the walls of this petite but inviting space. When we arrived around 9, the place was calm with just a couple of tables of diners. With his distinguished grey hair and crisp black suit, Tony (owner/barman/server) cuts a dashing figure as he zips around making drinks, serving food and chatting with patrons. Having previously worked at the crowded Les Editeurs as well as many other restaurants and cafes, I imagine he’s used to handling multiple tasks and people simultaneously.
The lack of usuals, Matt and Violaine, was made up for by the addition of Melanie and Tara, so we settled in for some light girly chat over a few drinks. The cocktail menu is rather a small and basic selection (Americano, gin fizz, pina colada, etc.) at about 7 – 9 Euros each. I started with the usual martini, which was not listed on the menu, average and served in a champagne flute. Melanie ordered the potentially interesting Scorpion (rum, apricot liquor, pineapple juice, lemon juice, grenadine & cayenne pepper). There have been countless variations on the original Trader Vic’s Scorpion recipe, but the only thing this one had in common was the rum. Tony told us that he was taught this recipe by the iconic French singer Serge Gainsbourg, which I think makes for a fun tidbit to drop when it’s ordered. We liked the Scorpion, but I think a bit more cayenne would have taken it up a notch. Tara enjoyed her mojito. Salty olives and peanuts came with the drinks. For another round, Tony recommended margaritas, which left me non-plussed. There was either little or no cointreau or it may have been bottled lime juice, which I think tastes much tarter than fresh.
We chatted off an on with Tony throughout the night and he is genuinely enthusiastic about running a cocktail bar. He promised that later visits would yield more choice behind the bar, including fresh citrus, and explained that he wants a “young cocktail” crowd. Unfortunately, for the moment, the prices aren’t cheap enough to pull in a young crowd and the drinks not interesting enough to pull in a serious cocktail crowd. I noticed that 33cl beers (just around a half pint) run between 5 to 6.50 Euros, which is on the high side if you’re looking for a young crowd.
But, I do believe he merits a respectable crowd – I’m just not sure what for yet. Once he figures out his angle and works it, he’ll successfully pull in plenty of drinkers and diners. For the few very enjoyable hours we stayed there, the only other customers remained the two to three tables of diners. The menu looked interesting, including a well-priced 20 Euros 3 course lunch menu and what we saw arriving at the tables looked good.
At the end of the evening, as he was clearing off the last emptied tables, Tony came out with a bottle of tequila and Schweppes and ceremoniously prepared us a round of tequila poppers. My favorite libation? Nope. But, come on….who hasn’t knocked back of a few of those on a cinco de mayo down at Telaque Paque!? And, I do appreciate that he was doing something that seemed fun and different for us once he realized we were curious and inquisitive about his drinks and drink making skills.
While the cocktail menu lacks oompf, I’m having a hard time criticizing Clin d’Oeil. Overall, not a bad place to stop by for a drink of something standard or possibly try the lunch menu if you’re in the area. While not a cocktail destination for me, I’m seriously rooting for Tony…I hope he figures out what works best for him and packs his place out. He’s got a lot going for him, it’s just not what I’m necessarily looking for on a Wednesday.