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Indochine in Eixample

10 December, 2008 (07:49) | Living in Europe | By: admin

Monday night Mark, Nicole and I attended a chic and ultra artsy event/opening of the new Indochine restaurant. The original Indochine, at another location, has a magic, charm and intimacy that makes dining there not only the most exquisite culinary experience but also not overly expensive considering the quality of food and ambience. We were all curious about this new location. Our friend Nuria had been working behind the scenes at this opening, and I had been having a hard time visualizing what she was describing, other than a lot of the word “demasiado” (too much) followed by “pero”, (however).

Now his new opening in upscale Eixample, which Nuria has been talking about for months now was finally coming to fruition. Lee (the inspired and brilliant owner/creator) has designed a space that is beyond flashy. It is huge, almost too big, with lots of plants, nice gardens and areas to sit, lit by beautiful candles. There is an unusually long bar that leads to a glassed off exhibit of his cooks in progress as they prepare the many unusually delicious Indochina dishes (they specialize in Thai, Cambodian and Vietnamese food).

photos above = Nuria and me, kitchen, plants, profile of crowd

The scene is full of fur clad women and dapper men. Waterfalls, harsh light, ancient looking Cambodian tableaus on walls. The cooks are in a huge glass exhibit, dressed chopping,preparing and delivering tasty morsels of teaser food. They look like an exhibit in a zoo, almost unsettling. The elegant crowd is multi-generational, eccentric conservatism at its best; sharply dressed characters, men with hats, goatees, eccentric hairdos women wearing their furs and jewels, clinking drinks, laughing. Mark is tall and distinguished looking. Mark wants to people-watch but is having a hard time because everywhere he looks people are staring at him. Nicole is also tall in her heels, and very glamorous.

photo below: me and Nicole plus detail from Indochine interior

We fit in, swim with the sharks, circulate, like everyone else. The back of the restaurant opens up into a wide area that is basically a large indoor pond. There are wooden walkways through the pond and sunken tables jutting out from the walkway into the water. To sit at a table you have to climb down off the walkway and fit your legs under the table (the only area that has no water) once seated you are surrounded by water, literally sitting in the pond. If you lean back too far you’d get wet, if you drop your mobile phone accidentally it will go into the water. These seats are both alluring and alarming.

The pond itself is filled with huge tropical plants and colorful exotic flowers everywhere. How they keep these alive inside of the dark cavernous restaurant is a mystery; we can’t even keep our rosemary plant alive! There is also a center area with a few normal tables that are not sunk down into the pond, like a terrace that one would see in Vietnam. The whole effect really does transport you to another world and I felt at one point that I was back in Vietnam.