Note added in July 2014: I returned to L’Homme Bleu many times but stopped doing so in summer 2013. Why? I was served a glass of champagne that either wasn’t real champagne or was long ago expired (I returned the glass and we were not billed for it). Unfortunately this was not all. The dishes were not as good as they used to be, and my favorite lamb tajine was simply too sweet. The tastes were not balanced. We very very disappointed and wondered was it the “August effect” (many people take holidays and maybe the restaurant was run by nonprofessionals at the time of our visit?). We never learner what it was, but we haven’t been back since summer 2013. There are so many North African restaurants in Paris to visit!! See my list of other restaurants in the end of this post.
Paris is an excellent place to discover North African food and one can easily find an Algerian or a Moroccan restaurant in every area, arrondissement, of the city. We must have tried over 20 of these restaurants, but are always ready to try new ones.
Like l’Atlantide (Algerian restaurant l’Atlantide in Paris), l’Homme Bleu is also on Le Figaro‘s Best Couscous of 2010 list. I love tajines with lamb, fruits and nuts, and my husband loves couscous with a mixed meat plate, so going through the menu never takes too long for us. We chose a Seksu Homme Bleu Couscous (kebab, merguez sausage, lamb, chop, meatball) and based on our waiter’s suggestion, I ordered Tajine s’laxrif (sweet and sour lamb with dates, figs, raisins, almonds, orange blossom, cinnamon). We also ordered red wine, Coteaux de Tlemcen, from the western part of Algeria. While waiting for our dishes to arrive, we looked around. There was a group of very fashionable Japanese tourists. Next to them, there was a group of local men discussing Zidane and drinking mint tea. I noticed that decoration is a little bit similar to L’Atlantide: rugs, warm orange-yellow colors, images of Sahara and Tuaregs on the wall. We had a chat with our waiter who confirmed that the restaurant owner is originally from Tizi Ouzou, which is a town in Kabylie in Algeria (like the owners of l’Atlantide).My tajine was delicious and very copious. The main difference to other lamb tajines that I have had was that the lamb was already cut into pieces. Why not! The dish was full of fruits and almonds, and apart from the fact I could have maybe asked for some more chick peas, everything was perfect.
My husband’s couscous came with a huge portion of vegetable stew (the way he likes) and a variety of grilled meat. His comments were “copious, tasty, enough stew, good-quality meat”, although he added that the merguez sausage was the least interesting meat on the plate.We were particularly impressed by the friendly service. “Berber hospitality”, we said to ourselves. We also noticed that the Algerian wine had a very special (positive) effect on us: we could have fallen asleep in less than a second. The waiter joked with us and suggested we sleep on the pillows of the dining room downstairs. Apparently a coffee-croissant breakfast would be served to us in the morning at no extra cost…
In my opinion, l’Homme Bleu and l’Atlantide have a lot in common: an excellent price/quality relationship, high-quality ingredients, the way of cooking, the variety of dishes, decoration, etc. A dinner of two people with a bottle of wine hardly costs more than 60€. However, since l’Homme Bleu is closer to us (and since they were so nice), we will probably return here the next time we feel like stepping into the intriguing North African world.
L’Homme Bleu: 55bis Rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud, 75011 Paris. Tel. 01-48070563. Metro: Parmentier. http://www.restaurant-lhommebleu.fr/
Le Figaro list: http://www.lefigaro.fr/sortir-paris/2010/11/22/03013-20101122ARTFIG00674-le-test-des-meilleurs-couscous.php?cmtpage=0
Previous posts about eating North African food in Paris are:
L’Alcôve: finest meat of Paris (also serves couscous and tajine, but house specialty is grilled meat)
Algerian restaurant l’Atlantide in Paris (excellent couscous and tajine)
Le Tipaza: refined Moroccan food (a good address near the Eiffel Tower)