I hadn’t been in this restaurant since it was ‘Le Passage’ where I was massively disappointed with a vegetarian salad which turned out to be a heap of leaves, for 17€. It was a shame because it is such an interesting building. During the 19th century it was a busy factory producing sweets and calissons, using local almonds and fruits. Like many of these industrial spaces, it lends itself well to the demands of modern restauration.
The new owners have injected an Eastern vibe into the decor to match their eclectic Asian buffet à volonté: a huge Buddha gently surveys diners circling the three large central tables. The first table has a large variety of salads, braised leeks, eggs mayonnaise, champignons à la grecque, and various fish and meat starters. The second had a wide choice of meat and fish dishes, nems, shrimps, sushi, with different versions of rice and noodles. And finally a lovely array of desserts – little glasses of chocolate mousse or creamy rice pudding, cheesecakes, tiny tartes tropeziennes….So much temptation.
The restaurant sits 350 inside + 35 on the terrace. It was really full yesterday when we visited so you must book. Our verdict was pretty positive. We did find it a bit cold when we arrived but it soon warmed up. The fish-eaters thought the quality varied – some of the dishes were a little dry. They all though really liked the fish which was cooked to order on the grill and brought to the table.
As a vegetarian, I was delighted to have a choice. That’s a luxury for me round here. And I love the pretty eastern decor.
And at 17,90€ per person (without drinks), we all thought it was excellent value for money. A super idea for Chinese New Year celebrations.
It’s the 4th restaurant in a chain – the others are Zen La Valentine, Zen La Mer, Zen La République. Full details on www.ozen-restaurant.fr. 10 Rue Villars, 04 42 370 900.
The original workers who used to churn out sweets for local consumption and for export are not forgotten in the restaurant – there’s a large photo of them upstairs (left) and pix of the factory in action throughout the restaurant. A nice touch.