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Mar 22, 2007 01:25 PM

Le Metro - how's the new chef doing?

I remember reading here a few months ago that they were getting a new chef. I was wondering if anyone has been there since s/he took over.

I used to like this place, but found it more and more disappointing each time I went. When I learned about the new chef I was hopeful. I'd love to go back if things have improved.

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  1. Ate at Metro last night for the first time since the new chef. We live nearby and were regulars when Pat and Babu, the former French owners, were at the helm. I have to say it was disappointing. My dad paid the tab for five of us, and it was $250 for a pretty bland meal. He was staying next door at the hotel, and everyone else lives right in the 'hood, so it seemed a good choice, and though nothing was bad, it just didn't live up to the old place. Three of us had the mahi mahi which was served on a bed of braised leeks with a beet coulis. I wouldn't have chosen this, but it was so hot out that I wanted something on the light side and everything else on the menu was heavy--pork loin, steak, etc. I was also surprised that there was no special for the evening. The flavors of the mahi mahi were a little bland (and the coulis looked like fushcia ketchup) and my salad--the mesclun dressed in vinagraitte, was full of flat leaf parsley, which my companions and I agreed was not a good flavor for a salad. My hubbie, a former sous-chef said that's a way to stretch pricey mesclun, by adding lots of parsley. Hubbie had the duck breast, which he said was good, but a small portion, and my sis's boyfried got the rack of lamb and also said it was fine. We each ordered a different dessert, and they were all passable. My creme brulee was too cold, my dad's citron tarte too dry, etc. etc. I think the main problem though is that the place doesn't feel "French" anymore. I don't know if the current owners are actually French, but none of the staff appeared to be, and the old Metro always had that Parisian bistro vibe, which was fun, even if the food was always just good neighborhood standards. Though my dad seemed to like it well enough (he doesn't go out much and he liked that it was quiet and close by), I missed the buzz and crowds of the old Metro. Even though it's just down the street, next time we'll brave the noise and try Nopa.

    3 Replies
    1. re: cafecreme

      It's interesting that you had a worse experience than before. I, too, was a semi-regular when Babu and Patricia were running things, and even though I thought they are great people, every time I went there it just got worse and worse and I always swore I would never go back.

      After Babu got out, a friend told me that someone from Alamo Square Grill, Rashawn, and his wife were now running the restaurant and it was they who brought in the new chef. I don't know exactly where the chef came from but I believe he worked at Masa's at one point? I remember reading more detail about that on the Tablehopper.

      In any case, I'm much happier with the menu and food in its new incarnation. It feels a bit fresher, less fussy, and cheaper. I do wish that this restaurant would just stop trying to be fancy and focus more on really great basic bistro fare (roasted chicken, steak frites, etc.), work with the seasons more, and stop with trying to make a big presentation. Make it more of a hangout where you can get good wine and food if you want it. Lately I've been sticking with moules frites and salads, but have also had a good duck breast and rack of lamb there.

      To me, the vibe seems about the same as before (minus the bad paintings) and I do believe that Rashawn is very passionate about making it work. I'm glad it's in the neighborhood, and I think it's gotten better, but I always wonder who goes there who doesnt' live around there, 'cause it just seems like the basic neighborhood place to me.

      1. re: cjp

        It had been over a year since we'd eaten at Metro (last time was Feb '06) so maybe I am not truly qualified to report on the food pre and post new chef, but I did sense a change in the ambience. I was pregnant and had my daughter in November '06 so we weren't getting out much. Pat and Babu are friends of the family so in the heyday of the old Metro, before they sold it, it was nice to know the owners, and it felt like a good local spot. If that's what you're going for, Metro is still fine, if a bit too expensive. We can't afford to eat out every week, so I wouldn't blow that amount of money there again, but if you go and get the prix-fixe then I can see that might be a decent bargain. I agree that they should keep things simple, focus on a few good dishes, maybe two or three desserts and definitely have a special or two on offer. The dinner I described was our very first time out without the baby so we were hoping it would be a really special meal (also since my dad was in town). The vibe that night was a bit dead (only two other tables occupied), and it was a warm night and lots of people out. It just made me miss the energy of the old Metro and the warm slightly Boho Euro vibe it had. That is gone and it just was not as much fun as when the waiters used to walk around with the chalkboard full of specials from table to table.

        1. re: cafecreme

          I should add that the previous owners were really just acquaintances, not friends of ours, but of my sister-in-law, who is also French. I know that the old place had some problems before the change of ownership, and I have only heard about them secondhand. Plus, I wouldn't want to trash anyone based on one meal. I want the new place to be a success of course. The food was fine--it just wasn't that much fun...

    2. Apparently this Sunday (June 10) is the last night that the Metro will be the Metro. Roshan, who brought in the new chef this past year and is the current operator, is closing down the French concept and re-opening as a Nepalese restaurant (he and his wife--who also runs things--are from Nepal).

      It'll be interesting to see how it turns out. I think the place that used to be the strange Jamaican place up on Fulton and Divis is Nepalese? Otherwise, I think it'll be good to get something different in there. I don't know what it means for their brunch business--they seem to do pretty consistently well for their weekend brunches.

      2 Replies
      1. re: cjp

        just got more details on this:
        They're going to close it for two weeks and re-do the place to make it a chic place that serves Nepalese-style Indian food. Most entrees will be just under $10 and they will open late night 'til 1am. They seem to be comparing the concept to Dosa.

        1. re: cjp

          Interesting--I've eaten at Katmandu many times and it is pretty good--they are a nice family. But, I'm sad that Metro is closing. Despite my disappointing dinner experience there recently, I agree that the garden brunch is nice and it's been a mainstay in the neighbrhood for years. I knew the life had gone out of it though last time I was there. It didn't feel French at all. So, maybe it's for the best. In any case, I wish the Nepalese owners luck and I'm sure we will eat there regularly.