DE JOËL ROBUCHON ETOILE (*****L): With
a total of 26 Michelin Guide stars –the most of any chef in the world-
including 2 stars for this new outlet opened in December 2010, Robuchon
has been titled “Chef of the Century”. L'Atelier Etoile, stands in the
ground floor of the Drugstore Publicis: a luxurious, fashionable mall
dedicated to high end shopping and gastronomy, occupying a splendid
position on the Champs Elysées. Opposite the Arch of Triumph. In a the
heart of the posh and touristic "Triangle of Gold".
Average bill is EUR 150 - 200 up.
Open daily until 12 AM.
Those finding the prices little bit steep “à la carte”, will like the reasonable menus «Découverte» (EUR 60) and «Ambrosial» (EUR 98): making Le Diane one of the best value gourmet restaurants in Paris Triangle of Gold.
managed by the Lucien
group of hotels, restaurants and casinos.
LE DIANE: 99 avenue des Champs Elysees, 75008 Paris
PHONE: +33 1 (0) 40696050 FACSIMILE: +33 1 (0) 40696005
ALAIN DUCASSE (*****L): Obviously, the Master, Alain Ducasse, is not always present, but the kitchen team led by Christophe Moret and his lieutenant Josselin Herland is one of the most brilliant anywhere. Its members put ail their heart into their work and their preparations are remarkable, both in the precision of their execution and for their originality. The products are selected with extreme care, when they are not supplied exclusively to the Plaza. The fresh pasta with cream, truffles and giblets is a magnificent starter. Seasons are observed to the letter here. The line-caught sea bass is accompanied by green asparagus and fresh peas in the spring, but comes with citrus fruits, leeks, and spring onions in the fall. The smoked tea-glazed pigeon reveals entirely new flavors that bring out the full taste of turnips in sweet and sour sauce. Dessert is always a high point, but for those who are happiest straying from the beaten path, there can only be one choice—soft fresh ewe's cheese, peppered caramel, and strawberry-tree honey. Supervised by Denis Courtiade, the service attains summits of excellence, and the cellar, governed by Laurent Roucayrol, is extraordinary. The check is, of course, just as striking, but the most contemporary works of art are priceless and "Monsieur Ducasse" is and remains an artist with an eye to everything, from the decor designed by his associate Patrick Join, to minor details with a major impact, such as the cutlery and plates, and the style of the glasses.
Fixed price: EUR 200, 300. A la carte: EUR 250.
LASSERRE (*****L): Monsieur Lasserre is no longer with us, but his great establishment opposite the Palais de la Découverte science museum marches on, more splendid than ever. Jean-Louis Nomicos, a close associate of Alain Ducasse for years, presents a prix fixe that skillfully reconciles tradition and modernity. Priority is given to produce, and everything here is a question of balance, as evinced by truffle and foie gras macaroni. The Breton lobster in classic simmered stew seasoned with honey, chestnuts and rosemary is always a must, but turbot in a crust of black truffle, artichokes and green pea purée is today's true event. The pigeon served with seasonal fruits and vegetables is to cooking what a Rembrandt is to painting, but you may prefer the milk-fed veal chops with lemon and ginger cream sauce. The chocolaté soufflé is splendid. The service is fully what you would expect from such a noble establishment, and the check reflects that magnificence. The sommelier's name is Antoine Petrus, which already gives food for thought. When the weather is fine, the roof of the elegant dining room opens to the sky. The effect is magical and never stales.
Fixed price: EUR 75 (lunch), EUR 185 (tasting « Prix fixe »). A la carte: EUR 180-200.
Closed lunch (except Thursday, Friday), Sunday, August. Open until 10 PM.
TAILLEVENT (Alain Solivérès) (*****L): Alongside the "modernists" and their sometimes controversial concoctions, the "classicists" have their place, but must obviously still bring their cuisine into line with today's tastes. This is exactly what recently demised Jean-Claude Vrinat asked of the chefs at "his" Taillevent, a timeless (but not changeless) restaurant. Alain Solivérès, a creative craftsman who trained with Maximin, Ducasse and Cirino, has planned a prix fixe that seems traditional on first sight. Only when it is explained by the master of the house do you realize that nothing could be further from the truth. This is confirmed when Sault spelt wheat risotto with browned frog's legs or John Dory fish with olives arrive. The sunfîlled cuisine reaches its zenith with lamb saddle in a reduction sauce seasoned with regional wild herbs. The desserts, such as the feuille à feuille, a layered dessert of three chocolates, or baba au rhum with liquor-soaked raisins seem a million years old but still topical. The wine list is endless and the setting—a Second Empire town house with contemporary art providing interior decoration— exceptional, as is the service. The check rapidly adds up, but this comes as no shock, since the restaurant is at the peak of its achievements.
Fixed price: EUR 70 (lunch), 140, 190. A la carte: EUR 200.
Closed Saturday, Sunday, end of July-end of August. Open until 10 PM.
LA TOUR D'ARGENT (*****L): From his vantage point, Claude Terrail must be proud to see that while the world moves on, it is business as usual for La Tour. He bas finally left us, leaving his son André to run his institution. Lovers of Paris should not worry, though: come hell or high water, the Tour remains. We paid our visit just after Michelin took away one of the restaurant's stars in a very well publicized move as chef Jean-François Sicallac was handing over the reins to his lieutenant, Stéphane Haïssant, a vétéran of Guérard, Loiseau and Senderens, before going to run the Coquille in Concarneau. We felt that the house cuisine had never been more effective. Admittedly, no one visits the Terrails' establishment (which was already in vogue in the 16th century) in search of trendy dishes that will be out of date as soon as the latest fad has peaked, but rather for a master class in a great, ambitious, classical tradition. In fact, the little appetizers, with mustard beignets, and vigorous starters, such as médaillons of foie gras with a sea urchin cream sauce, silky pike quenelles with mushroom duxelles, duck with orange sauce served with crisp, twice-fried potato puffs and spinach gratin, whole veal kidneys cooked rare, garnished with crayfish and a Jura wine sauce and passion fruit and guava parfait were actually at the height of their powers. We might add that these marvels were a part of the lunchtime set menu, priced at a levelheaded EUR 70.
The service in wing collar and tails, and the panoramic setting over-looking the Seine, the Ile Saint Louis and the roofs of Paris still hold ail their ineffable charm. The wine list, supervised by the expert David Ridgway, is still one of the most splendid in the world (a 1988 Château la Dominique was the choice accompaniment for our feast). Finally, pears poached in a vanilla cream and poire William with candied caramel, remains one of the most irresistible confections of ail time. Marvelous Tour!
Prix fixe: EUR 70 (lunch), EUR 200, EUR 230. A la carte: EUR 200.
Closed Monday, Tuesday lunch. Open until 10 PM
L'ARPEGE (Alain Passard) (*****L): Oblivious to fashion and its diktats, Alain Passard remains true to form, loyal to the produce-based cuisine that is close to his heart. It has been a long time since critics questioned the lack of red meat on his menu. This grandmaster of the vegetable has won them ail over with his skills. Creativity, originality, sensitivity and rigor are the everyday watchwords of this Breton trained by Kéréver, Boyer, then Senderens, as he prepares dishes of breathtaking freshness and vivacity. The lemon-infused sweet onion gratin, the thousand-and-one-flavors of the vegetable from the morning's harvest, the Chausey island lobster served thinly sliced and perfumed with Côtes-du-Jura wine and the Breton monkfish with Orléans mustard are odes to nature's gifts from the Mayenne, Finistère, Côtes d'Armor and Ile-et-Vilaine regions. Then, for the launch of the 1998 vintage Perrier Jouet Belle Epoque: raw scallops in a saffron velouté of zucchini blossoms, beechwood-smoked potato with white Côtes-du-Jura wine. The names are simple, the pleasures vast. If any doubts remain, sugar-coated young pigeon with honey wine and the sweet-breads with licorice root provide dazzling proof. Finally, what can we say about the desserts, except that they too attain summits of refinement? The caramelized tomato stuffed "with twelve flavors" refreshed with an orange sauce or the classic millefeuille offer moments of delight in this trove of elegance and serenity opposite the Rodin museum.
Prix fixe: EUR 130 (lunch), EUR 340 (dinner). A la carte: EUR 250.
Closed Saturday/ Sunday. Open until 10:30 PM.
GUY SAVOY (*****L): The man is in the image of his restaurant: charming and never boastful. At Guy Savoy's, the contemporary decor designed by Wilmotte, the Bram Van Velde and Daniel Humair paintings and the African statuettes seem to have stepped from the pages of a glossy magazine. However, the service (unusually affable for such a superior establishment), the wines presented by Eric Mancio, the head sommelier (who has written a number of guides on the subject), and above all the brilliant, appealing cuisine will soon have you feeling at home.
Behind the apparent simplicity lies a love—a passion—for shrewdly prepared produce. This results in short preparations with precise flavors: sharp, absolutely flawless and always surprisingly authentic. Whether this is your first or umpteenth visit, the signature dishes are extraordinary creations. The truffled artichoke soup with mushroom and truffle-seasoned brioche, oysters over an iced seafood broth, foie gras with salt, grilled sea bass seasoned with mild spices and turbot in egg salad and in soup express the qualities of the vegetable, shellfish or fish, refusing to allow themselves to be sidetracked. These examples of a true taste and its hidden qualities are also expressed by the pan-fried veal sweet-breads with truffled potato turnovers and Bresse chicken with lemon-grass cream sauce and lightly grilled vegetables. The subtle, precise desserts play from the same score, like the "déclinaison de fraises" (variations on the strawberry theme), the fabulous crème "minute", served with green apple jus, a masterpiece we found perfectly copied in the restaurant of three-star Londoner Gordon Ramsay, or chocolate spiced with tonka beans. Brilliant!
What more can we add? Guy Savoy is clearly one of the subtle maestros of our day.
Prix fixe: EUR 230, EUR 285. A la carte: EUR 200.
Closed Saturday lunch, Sunday, Monday, 1 week from Christmas-New Year's, August. Open until 10:30 PM.
LAURENT (*****L): With Edmond Ehrlich gone, many had their doubts about Laurent's future. They had not reckoned with the determination of its team of great professionals and the arrival of a conscientious chef. In the dining room, the good-humored Philippe Bourguignon welcomes regulars and first-time visitors with equal courtesy. In the kitchen, Alain Pégouret, who has worked with Joël Robuchon and Christian Constant, is at the summit of his art, as shown by pan seared duck foie gras that opens the proceedings. Beneath a classical exterior, red mullet filet seasoned with saffron, bone marrow and caramelized shallot sauce is an exceptionally modem dish. The Corrèze veal flank steak, simply braised and presented with Swiss chard and a reduction sauce, is congenial and tasty, while hot soufflé perfumed with Anis de Ponrarlier is a highly successful confection. Patrick Lair always provides good advice when the time comes to choose a wine. The price of ail this splendor is reasonable, and there is a terrace for when the sun shines.
Prix fixe: EUR 75, EUR 150. A la carte: EUR 180.
Closed Saturday lunch, Sunday, Bank Holidays. Open until 10:30 PM.
LAURENT: 4l, av Gabriel, 75008 Paris
PHONE: (+33-1) 42 25 00 39 FACSIMILE:(+33-1) 45 62 45 21
LEDOYEN (*****L): The Napoléon III style has been lovingly maintained, and guests here lunch or dine in one of the most elegant settings in the capital. Christian Le Squer's cuisine is in tune with these surroundings as he consummately champions the colors of "his" Brittany, enchanting his enthralled audience with oven-crisped langoustine served in a citrus olive oil emulsion sauce. Straying a little further from the beaten path, the concentré of assorted Belon and spéciales oysters makes a succulent marine starter. Sobriety does not rule out a touch of mischief, and the astute oven-crisped slices of filet of sole acquire a somewhat Jurassic flavor, prepared as they are with Jura wine. The ingenious sautéed spiced suckling pig with gnocchi and semi-dried tomatoes seems native to the land of Brittany and is toothsome to a fault. For dessert, thin crisp dark chocolaté sheets with iced pistachio milk will have you swooning. The service is in the delicious style practiced in bourgeois homes. The check climbs rather higher than Brittany's unspectacular Arrée Mountains, but without giving undue offence.
Prix fixe: EUR 85 (lunch on weekdays), EUR 198 (lunch on weekdays), EUR 284 (wine included on weekdays). A la carte: EUR 200.
Closed Saturday, Sunday, Monday lunch, August. Open until 9:45 PM.
LE BRISTOL (Eric Frechon) (*****L): With three Michelin star, this is one of the top five hotel restaurants in Paris. Chef Eric Frechon, winner of the 1993 Meilleur Ouvrier de France (=Best French Handicraftsman) award for culinary art, renews thrice a year his "Grande Carte": with the freshest ingredients, and most sophisticated combinations of savors. Where flavors, spices and fresh herbs enrich meat and fish with a noble French origin and prestigious labels.
Visiting the "Grande Carte" sounds a temptation. Our "Homard Breton", blue lobster from Brittany (considered the best in the world), served with curried cucumber, milded by a generous touch of coconut milk, was aristocratic. Great texture, showing a perfect freshness. Great taste. Somehow influenced by the royal Thai cuisine. Well worth its EUR 69, this is a must! It is also available under a second, very attractive version: beech wood smoked, with peas mousseline, and lobster heads infused in wild mushroom juice... EUR 95; and well worth this price. A hard to forget delicacy. Alternatively, we would like to recommend the "Tourteau de Roscoff" (EUR 58): king crab from Brittany, served with pressed tomato, avocado flesh, and a divine tarragon infused coral. Or the "Langoustines de Guilvinec": served in a generous portion, they have been cautiously roasted with citrus thyme, onions and mango jam, then perfumed with a light citrus juice (EUR 80). Caviar is never very imaginative; except in Le Bristol: we had our "Osetra from the Caspian Sea" (EUR 98), with shellfish stock and sea lettuce, served with a cauliflower mousse. The association of the imperial caviar with the working class cauliflower was amazingly surprising: inventive, and actually appealing to the most spoiled palate. Of course one could hardly miss the "Macaronis Truffés" (EUR 55): Macaroni stuffed with artichoke, duck liver, gratinated with aged Parmesan: a specialty which made Eric Frechon world famous. Delicious with a glass of Champagne, those appetizers could also be much -not to say more!- enjoyed with a well chilled white wine. Like this "Condrieu 2002, Les Terrasses de l'Empire, Domaine Georges Vernays" which pleased our palate very much during our previous visit. Or with this wonderful, fragrant white "Sancerre, Le Chêne Marchand 2002" (EUR 50) that we enjoyed during our last inspection, in Summer 2010.
Both wines perfectly matched the fish we ordered as a main course. Our "Saint-Pierre du Petit Bateau" (John Dory fish), with pickled lemon, sautéed squid and zucchini, mildly perfumed with precious aromatic sweet pepper from Espelette, was well worth the visit. A large portion goes for EUR 62. Alternatively, try the succulent "Bass from the Isle of Yeu" (EUR 85), smoothened with an oyster tartar, accompanied with charlotte potatoes mashed with flat leaves parsley juice. Meat is also served very generously. Like the "Poitrine de Cochon Fermier" (Belly of Pork) (EUR 60) or the "Barbecued Country Bacon" (EUR 61), roasted charlotte, herbs salad, with mustard seeds extracts : Eric Frechon likes to introduce so called "proletarian" -we would say: "bistro"- products (pork, but also whiting or "Calf's Head": the most surprising in Paris, presented rolled, slightly crunchy, and spiced with capers and... anchovies!) to an elitist clientele of rich gourmets, familiarized with caviar and truffle. A risky, but successful game: the result comes perfect. Our pork was brought to our table on a trolley, still smocking over the gridiron, served with purple artichokes steamed with mustard leaves. Astonishingly not that fat, juicy and ideally spiced, we would like to recommend it to those with a hearty appetite. The "Filet d'Agneau de l'Aveyron" (Fillet of Lamb) is a good alternative: cooked with fresh herbs, almost melting under our tongue, it came into our plate with a delicious accompaniment: garlic croquettes, and zucchini jam ideally balanced with the fragrant essences of olive and basil (EUR 59). Or the "Suckling Veal Sweetbreads" (EUR 79), braised with dried fennel, carrots with gingerbread and lemon, and its cooking juice: a delicacy. We had it all with a "Saumur Rouge 2001, Foucault, Domaine du Collier, La Ripaille": pulpy, fruity, pleasant and easy to drink. Good value also (EUR 60).
We have been too often disappointed by deserts, in those ritzy palace hotel restaurants. Which was not the case at Le Bristol. Assisted by a remarkable pastry cook (Laurent Jeannin, well trained in the hotels Crillon and George V), Eric Frechon brought to his menu splendid specialties. We took the classic, chic and very Parisian "Soufflé Chaud au Grand Marnier, Cuvée du Cent Cinquantenaire": a warm soufflé, precious vintage Grand Marnier flavoured, with orange and lemon sorbet, "Pain de Gênes" (sweet Italian Ginger Bread). At EUR 25, you cannot miss it, indeed. We can also recommend the "Abricots rôtis au Lait d'Amande" (EUR 22): roasted apricots, with almond milk, crumble, hot chocolate, and Amaretto ice-cream. Succulent. Not available all year long, "La Petite Gaufre aux Fraises des Bois" (Wild Strawberry Waffle), is divinely light. Those looking for absolute originality can order the "Fresh Fruits Sorbet" (EUR 20), very classical at first sight, with its fresh milk and cream scoops, and blond meringue... but served on a nitrogen cloud bubbling and fumigating from bellow the cup. Sometimes, El Bulli and his alchemist influence is not far away from the rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré...
Note that the bread is so wonderful at Le Bristol, that it is exported as far away as... the Royal Palace in Bangkok! The selection which came to our table is the richest we have seen anywhere in Paris. Try that one with natural sea salt... unforgettable.
Last but not least, we would like to mention -and warmly recommend- the world famous "Poularde de Bresse au vin de Château Châlon, cuite en Vessie" (Hen Chicken from the Bresse): honoring the much awarded AOC Bresse chicken. This is, together with the blue lobster and the "Macaronis Truffés", the highlights of a prestigious selection. It comes cooked in a bladder (the essence of the steamed wine make it so tender, so tasty, so... unique!), with crayfish, variety meats and actually royal black truffle. Superlative! The "Poularde" is the most expensive meal, at EUR 210 (for two peoples); but who minds the price at Le Bristol?! Moreover when comes the wine: Le Bristol has one of the best wine cellars in France, with exquisite and rare Pomerol Pétrus 1953, Château Yquem 1982, Corton Charlemagne 1992 and many others which are not systematically grands crus but tasty and sometime unforgettable regional wines. With more than 30,000 bottles, it is impossible not to please one's personal taste and budget: the friendly and extremely professional sommelier, Marco Pelletier, is a great adviser for those secret wines fitting all purses and palates. Conclude your dinner with a Louis XIII or, good value for money at EUR 55, with a glass of Bas Armagnac Laberdolive 1962: a pure marvel. Simply great with a Partagas Lusitania or a Montecristo N°2: a repressive French law bans this gourmet pleasure in public places, including five star restaurants, but smoking it remains possible in the hotel garden.
One more originality at Le Bristol: their restaurant moves twice a year from a room to another inside the hotel, depending on the season. We do love the Winter Restaurant: plush, ritzy, just splendid, operating from November until April in an oval room that was, in the XIXth century, Jules de Castellane's private theater. It is adorned with magnificent Regency hand-carved woodworking in Hungarian oak. Its glass roof is highlighted with gold leaf, and set off by panels painted by Gustave-Louis Jaulmes that festooned the Pleyel room of the Chaillot palace. A magnificent XVIIIth century tapestry from the Lille Manufacture completes the decor, which is also complemented by crystal chandeliers and a unique game table by Trehern. From May until April, the Summer Restaurant opens to the largest hotel grounds existing in the capital. When the sun shines, this is THE place to feel away from Paris stressing life: sitting among the magnolia, honeysuckle and rhododendron, with birds whistling for your ears only.
Unique and warmly recommended.
SHANG PALACE (Frank Xu)
1974, all Shangri-La hotels worldwide operate a branch of this upscale
Chinese gourmet restaurant: therefore, the sumptuous Shangri-La Paris,
inaugurated in 2010 in Prince Roland Bonaparte's 19th century mansion,
of the few Michelin 1 star Asian restaurants in France.
Cantonese head-chef Frank Xu, a veteran of the industry from Shenzhen,
received this much sought after award in 2012; since, the Shang Palace
ranks atop the most visited restaurants in Paris “triangle of gold”. Xu
operates with two dozens of cooks in the kitchen: featuring key posts
like wok, barbecue and chopper experts, plus a gifted dim sum maker.
The Shangri-La Paris operates a second
Asian restaurant, La
Bauhinia, and L'Abeille,
a renowned 2 Michelin star restaurant for splendid French cuisine by
chef Philippe Labbé.
FOUQUET'S (****L): With Les Deux Magots, Le Flore and the Café de la Paix, this is one of the most recognizable cafés in Paris. The concentration of celebrities visiting this legendary address, haunted by the world of movies, arts and politics, makes it the most peopolized place on the Champs Elysées: the rows of Asian and Middle-Eastern tourists invading the outside and inside terraces, visiting Fouquet's as a landmark, protect the anonymity of the happy-few greeting and joining each others for a pleasant gastronomic routine.
Everybody -except some tourists, leaving their table with frustration- knows that Fouquet's is nothing but an authentic Parisian brasserie, serving solid, excellent traditional fares. If quick though friendly service, noise and crowd are not your style, you should rather straightly head to La Tour d'Argent, Taillevent, or Le Diane, located one step beyond, on the first floor of the high end Fouquet's Barrière hotel... But you will miss warm and exciting moments: Chef Jean-Yves Leuranguer feeds, here and at Le Diane, what one calls here «Le Tout Paris» (=Parisian society), with yummy and reinvigorating specialties served in generous portions. The «Lobster Caesar Salad» and the «Fouquet's King Crab Flowers, Quinoa Grains and Citrus Vinaigrette» (EUR 49) are classics which would make us come back, indeed. Impossible to sit at Fouquet's without experiencing the «Coin de rue» style potatoes, considered by many -including Joël Robuchon- as the best French fries in Paris (which means in the world...). Enjoy them with a «Grilled Filet of Beef, Bearnaise Sauce». At EUR 48, it could feed two people, and is well worth the visit. We got it with a well paired «Crozes-Hermitage, Côte du Rhône» (EUR 12, by the glass). The wine list features up to 350 references; including a remarkable selection of Champagne (try the «Pomery Pop Earth», first 100% «eco-conceived» Champagne is exclusively served in Fouquet's).
Though we found the «Rum Baba» quite ordinary and too strong on the Rum, most of the desserts are mouth watering: our preference goes to those made out of Valrhona Chocolate: the «Palet of Cesar», for instance. It is included in the well balanced «Traditional Menu», featuring appetizer, main dish and dessert: actually good valued at EUR 81. No need to be the Agan Khan, Marlene Dietrich or the Duke of Windsor -you might be seated at their favorite table: check it out from the iron-plate fixed on the wall- to afford the unique privilege of dining in much more than a restaurant: a symbol of Paris, officially recognized as a part of the Parisian patrimony by the Ministry of Culture.
managed by the Lucien
group of hotels, restaurants and casinos.
CAFE DE LA PAIX (****L): A landmark, The Café de la Paix is since 1862 one of the leading brasseries in Paris. Attached to the palatial Grand Hôtel (now InterContinental Paris Le Grand), with an outside terrace facing the Opera House, it remains nowadays one of the most sought after tourist spots in Paris. Like the Eiffel Tower or the Lido, it is given the cold shoulder by the Parisian who certainly consider it as a tourist trap. It is not. Of course, the lavish dinning room, designed by Garnier (architect of the Opera House), sounds like Babylon: echoing a multiplicity of foreign languages. Asian and American tourists just swear by this cafe, once visited by Emile Zola, Guy de Maupassant, Sergei Diaghilev, and so many statesmen and movie stars.
This is a brasserie indeed; not a «grand restaurant». Those who are not patient enough to wait five minutes to be seated in the noisy, animated dinning-rooms or terraces will feel frustrated somehow. Which is a pity, as we got there a more than decent gastronomic experience.
The recently appointed Chef Christophe Raoux worked with Manuel Martinez, Guy Legay, Michel Roth, Guy Martin, Gérard Besson and Alain Ducasse: an outstanding experience for this multi-awarded young gentleman, bearing fruits up to our plate. Though many clients just come here to enjoy the reputed «Plateau Opera» (a rich selection of seafood from the counter, at EUR 49), we preferred to order more sophisticated dishes, reflecting Raoux's skill. The «Chicken Oyster Risotto» (EUR 36), gravy seasoned with capers and sage, country crisp, was close to perfection and served in a generous portion. We warmly recommend the palatable «Sea-bass Dieppe Style» (EUR 39), with baby spinach shoots, delicious garlic confit; just ignore the pale cultivated mushrooms which break the relief of the emulsion. We got it all «à la carte», and will next time experience the very attractive and much affordable «Garden Market & Before Show Menu» (EUR 46 for starter + main course + dessert) which featured, the day of our visit, a very appetizing «King Prawns, Macquerel, Puff Pastry Tart» : the kind of dish which will certainly, sooner or later, honor Raoux with a merited Michelin star. The pastries are classic, classy and worth the visit: the Millefeuille (EUR 14) is a best seller, but we would like to recommend the lighter, certainly more interesting, so refreshing «Yellow and Red Grapefruit, Litchis, Red Fruit Tea, and Grapefruit Sorbet» EUR 13). We got it all with a seducing Burgundy, «Mercurey 1er Cru en Sazenay, Domaine de Suremain, 2006» (EUR 55 / bottle): complex and perfumed, it came with a cool fruit and cinnamon notes pairing well fish and seafood.
seen, the Café de la Paix is worth the experience. This is Paris!
114 FAUBOURG (Eric Frechon / Eric Desbordes) (****L): Located in the hotel Le Bristol new wing, inaugurated in October 2009, this is the newest and trendiest restaurant in Paris. Attended by artists, fashionists, journalists and -much more important- gastronomes, this is the place where the action goes.
Designed on a duplex by Maja Oetker (owner of the hotel) and a wisely selected team of architects, with gild columns, natural light provided by large windows, pop-style pictures of dahlias over the walls, and an open kitchen, the place is actually tailored made to provide a fine dinning environment to the Parisian society and first class travellers alike.
We had our lunch on the street level: this is actually the place to see and be seen. Some already call it the «Elysée Palace coffee shop»: it is true that Nicolas Sarkozy's special advisers like to sit there; though they usually prefer the intimacy of the hotel's lounge bar, where fine dinning is provided too. Rather expect to share the close company of some businessmen, or celebrities from the local show business; the rich and famous still prefer the posh Winter and Summer restaurants. But things might change quickly: the «114 Faubourg» is still a new born, and might grow up in style and quality.
Once designated to operate as a «bistro», the «114 Faubourg» finally opened like a trendy, relaxing restaurant. We are in the merge of high gastronomy; with simple, traditional recipes. Three star Michelin Chef Eric Frechon supervises the menu; while the younger Eric Desbordes (ex-Hilton Paris, George V and Pershing Hall) remains the captain aboard. With a bright, appetizing, reinvigorated cuisine... and relatively fair prices for generous portions.
Except the «Oeuf Cocotte au Chorizo & Fleurs de Capucines» (Baked Egg, Nasturtium Flower & Chorizo Flavoured), which we already enjoyed in the Winter restaurant, the «114 Faubourg» menu distinguishes itself completely from the main wing restaurants sophisticated offer. We recommend the «Oeuf King Crab, Mayo au Gingembre Citron» (King Crab Egg, with a Ginger-Lemon Mayonnaise): well structured, delicious pieces of the legendary Kamtchatka king crab legs come into an eggshell filled with a sweet mayonnaise, flavored with a lemon zest and a pinch of ginger. It costs EUR 22; which shocked some food-writers. The king crab ranks in the same price range like the blue lobster; is it a rip-off to charge this delicacy at the rate of a mediocre main dish in an average coffee shop? We are in the Bristol; those stepping in won't certainly be cooled back by such a detail. Our companion ordered the «Grosses Crevettes, Legume au Wok» (King Prawns, Wok Sautéed Vegetables) (EUR 45); the portion was as generous as the size of the prawns. We liked very much the cooking options: steam, plancha or grilled; with Tapenade, soja, Satay or Curry sauce. We had them plancha with Satay, and this was perfect. The roasted «Queue de Lotte au Poivre de Sechuan, Légumes Sautés au Wok» (Monkfish Tail, Seasoned with Sechuan Pepper, Wok Sautéed Vegetables) is one of Eric Desbordes' specialties. We went for it, and didn't regret our choice. The portion was more than generous, and came with freshly woked vegetables. A classic, with a well mastered cooking time, resulting into a unmatched savor and texture. It costs EUR 45 (EUR 38, when labeled «Dish of the Day»; which happens quite often). Have it all with a bottle of «Sancerre, Clos de Beaujeu 2007, Gérard Boulay» (EUR 60): fresh, mineral and conveniently acid, this wine from the French region of Berry provides a fascinating richness and complexity and a long, vibrant finish that calls for seafoods, fresh vegetables and goat cheese (have it alternatively with the selection of French cheese, at EUR 12).
Desserts, by Laurent Jeannin, are wonderful: our favorite remains the «Millefeuille à la Vanille de Bourbon, Caramel au Beurre Demi-Sel» (French Layered Cake, Filled with Vanilla Custard and Mildly-Salted Butter Cream Caramel ) (EUR 18). A Kandinsky-like interpretation of the traditional millefeuille, with a great, sophisticated savor.
restaurant, the « 114 Faubourg » is a must be tried. With 90
seats only, and many regular guests, booking is essential.
LE BRISTOL (at HOTEL LE BRISTOL ): 114, rue du Faubourg St Honoré, 75008 Paris
PHONE: (+33-1) 53 43 43 00 FACSIMILE:(+33-1) 53 43 43 01
L’ANGLE DU FAUBOURG (****): L'Angle du Faubourg opened its doors in April 2001. Two hundred meters from its illustrious neighbour: Taillevent. Both restaurants come under same management: l’Angle is therefore often called “l’annexe” (the annex) by its patrons: some of them, attending once or twice a month formal business dinners in the not less formal Taillevent, like to have relaxed, affordable lunch at l’Angle.
Let’s call the not-so-impressive, Spoon-style design of the dinning room, “trendy”. It allegedly creates an atmosphere inspired by the soil of the vineyard. Minimalist, it has at least the advantage not to distract the gourmet from the delicacies he indeed finds in his plate. The cuisine by Laurent Poitevin is inventive; thus respecting the main basis of the French tradition. The menu was developed to put the accent on matching food and wine. Changed every six weeks, it offers six first courses, five main courses and five desserts. The attractive fixed price menu ("Menu d'Un Jour"), at EUR 35, available both for lunch and dinner, changes on a daily basis. For this unbeatable price, we had a Cold Salmon Fillet from the best origin, with slightly acid French dressing. Then came a Leg of Young Rabbit, braised with “prune wine”. Dessert was a “Blanc-Manger” (sort of upgraded cheese-cake) with strawberries. Much better than in any bistro all around. Much more imaginative and, shall we repeat it, amazingly good value for money. Even with some wine (about EUR 7 only for almost all wines sold by the glass)!
A la carte, not much more expensive than the menu (if you take two courses), we liked very much the “Velouté de Tomate rafraîchi au Basilic” (cream of tomatoes cooled with basil) (EUR 10), quite similar to a Gazpacho. More sophisticated, nevertheless. Served with a sweet basil sorbet: creating a nice balance with the sour taste of the tomato. Alternatively, the “Lomo de Thon rôti aux Epices” (EUR 17) was aristocratic: this is the back fillet of a wild tuna fish, roasted with spices, served mild in the plate.
As a main course, order the “Filet de Rouget à la Plancha” (EUR 22) : red mullet, grilled with odorant fresh thyme. Light, elegant, well textured, it makes you feel like at the seaside.
To finish your lunch, don’t expect a whole cheeseboard featuring all the “Fromages de France”; cheese at L’Angle is reduced to a choice between three categories, sold out separately (you cannot mix) at EUR 8. The day of our visit we could have, either a fresh Cabecou, with honey vinegar, either a Saint-Nectaire Fermier, either a royal Roquefort, with a juice made out of a Banyuls wine.
We preferred to have desert, and were finally well inspired. The “Ravioles de Betterave aux Fruits Rouges” (EUR 10) are actually inventive. Pleasant and interesting to the palate, this is a sweet gelled layer of beetroot jam, filled with sour berries. Served with a sorbet of fromage frais, we found it unforgettable.
The wine list was prepared from a choice of wines from Les Caves Taillevent, featuring 200 references. The sommelier (who was a nice lady sommelière), advised a “Côte du Rhône 2001, Blanc de Blanc, Domaine Delubac”: ideal with the whole lunch, we took it by the glass (EUR 7). Chilled, aromatic, it fitted well the Mediterranean inspiration of this light, pleasant cuisine. One Michelin star.
Closed on Saturdays and Sundays. Closed from July 26th to August 26th.
PINXO (****): This smart though cool restaurant is supervised by 2 Michelin star chef Alain Dutournier. A short walk from his world famous “Carré des Feuillants”, he developed in the Renaissance Paris Vendôme hotel an affordable, much convivial concept. In Aquitaine "pincher" means to grab, or even picking from neighbor’s plate. Following up on this idea, Dutournier decided to divide each dish in three servings, ready to be subjected to attack.
We liked the Zen, accommodating modern dining room in black, plum, and dark wood, designed by Pierre-Yves Rochon and painter-sculptor Alberto Bali, with its open kitchen. This is where the Tapas-like dishes are prepared with dexterity, then brought to your table by a friendly and anticipating staff, wearing black kimonos which might surprise at first sight. Luckily, they won't offer you those terrible «Suchi» available everywhere round the world nowadays, but the best beef («race Blonde d’Aquitaine»), goose, rabbit, pastas or sea-food you would ever dream of. We found the «Steam Cooked Vegetables & Large Prawns in a Broth with Garden Herbs» palatable. This is a reasonable starter at EUR 15. Alternatively, try the «Roll of Fresh King Crab, Salad, Soya Beans, Mint, Chopped Peanuts» (EUR 20), which is a chef's -and guests'!- favourite. It has certainly been inspired by one of his numerous trips and long stays in South East Asia. Another favorite: the very tender «Aquitaine Beef Sirloin Steak, Mashed Potato with Green Onion» (EUR 22).
Desserts are as light as imaginative. Like the «Strawberries, White Chocolate Sabayon & Sponge Biscuit» (EUR 10). « Backed Alaska Grand-Marnier Pancakes » (EUR 11).
Together, with wine that can be ordered by the glass (EUR 5,5 for a most pleasant AOVDQS « Sauvignon de Marigny-Neuf 2004, Frédéric Brochet ») and coffee, guests tend to pay about EUR 50. This is certainly why « Pinxo » is regarded like a "canteen" by many executives or fashion designers working in this posh area.
Open seven days a week.
The divine Alain might be a genius, who publicly "gave back" his three Michelin star a few years before the great economic recession, turning this "grande table" into a brasserie. Those once hesitating to push the entrance door, now can dine for a mere EUR 150 - 200. Three time "cheaper" than before. But if the food is still interesting, the design went properly indigestible: the Art Nouveau items (chairs, ceiling...) have been covered with neutral, whiter shade of pale fabrics, transforming this glorious landmark into what we would compare with a business class airport lounge... Chairs are not comfortable at all, and tables are close to each others: don't go there for romance or confidential negotiation... The first floor "petits salons" look like meeting rooms... The Japanese guests don't know from which angle they might or not take a picture...
Where is the anticipating staff? Gone also! The place has indeed skimped on the service
When the atmosphere vanished, to our great disappointment, we were happy to see that what we got for EUR 150 (including wine!) was still worth the visit to the new Senderens. Though the Thick slice of half-smoked salmon cucumber and green apple flavored with pistou sauce and wasabi was average (we would have been served similar dish in any Bib Gourmand restaurant up-country), we got satisfied with the harmonious and refreshing Riesling "Kabinett", R. Von Kesselstatt 2007 - Mosel-Saar-Ruwer associated to the fish. The Crusty crawfish, coriander and herb was much more brilliant; reminiscent of the Lucas Carton epoch. Our Anjou "Les Bonnes Blanches" 2007 - A. et R. Mosse was great also. The Filleted breast of duck and its leg in pastilla, with a glass of Saumur "Eolithe" 2006, Château de Fosse Sèche, reflected Alain Senderens maestria in cooking duck: one of his favorite delights. After a refreshing, though quite plain Iced "verrine" of pineapple & coriander, we got a fair Raspberries lace biscuits and crispy pistachio ice cream. It came with a glass of atypical Ze Bulle - Zéro Pointé by Mrs. And Mr. Gourdon: a surprising rosé, sparkling (we would rather say: effervescent) liquid, showing a low degree of alcohol (7.5%). Who cares whether or not this is actually wine? Amazingly acid, and finally perfect with our dessert, it is worth the try.
All in one, Senderens remains a good choice for those looking for a pleasant culinary experience in Paris; though orthodox gourmets can still find plenty of more conservative and ritzy restaurants in Paris for quite a similar bill. The Michelin ranking system should get some serious revision: this should be a 1 star restaurant; not 2 star.
Closed at lunch time on Saturday and Monday (opened at dinner time). Closed Sunday, all day, and three first weeks in August.
LIDO (****): The eye-popping revue “Bonheur”, the most expensive show in Europe –and maybe in the world- features over 80 performers in a brilliant cabaret atmosphere, with impressive special stage effects. The leading show-girl (Swedish singer and dancer Anki Albertsson) lands on the scene in a scaled private jet, skaters glide on the ice, and the Bluebell Girls illuminate our dream with their million dollars feathers costumes and elegant, faultless choreography. “Ca c’est Paris!”, as the French use to say.
France is the country of gastronomy, and those visiting the Lido should not forget that this is also certainly one of the best restaurants in Paris.
We found two advantages in dinning there. First of all, it actually seemed to us that the best seats –in the middle, not to close nor too far to the stage- are assigned to the dinners. Which is quite understandable, as they are first served at 7pm, listening to glamorous, jazzy live music, while the other spectators arrive much latter, to attend the show at 9:30pm. Second advantage: the chef, Philippe Lacroix, managing 35 cooks and pastry cooks, is fantastic. What could be a huge tourist trap, is in fact an amazingly pleasant and good value for money gastronomic table.
We had chosen the “Service Premier”, because it lavishly featured delicacies like “Lobster à la Parisienne“, and vintage Champagne: ours was a fresh, pleasantly nutty remarkable “R de Ruinart Brut, 1999”); two other offers (menu “Bonheur” at EUR 195 and “Panache” at EUR 160) were also attractive, and seemed to satisfy our neighbors who opted for more simplicity. We had lobster again one day later in a two star Michelin; it was quite similar to the one we enjoyed at the Lido, where the portion was larger. It came with a fragrant sauce with coral, refreshing, pleasantly seasoned Rucolla, pistachio and pearl barley salad. As a main dish, we liked very much the “Tournedos of Charolais beef”, extracted from the very best section of the fillet, that we had medium-rare, amazingly tender, served with green asparagus puff, Périgueux sauce. The ”Crunchy-Lido' coated in dark, bitter chocolate was perfect with one more glass of still perfectly well chilled Champagne (the waiter added more ice twice during the dinner and the show!).
For each dish, the disposition on the plate was elegant and somehow inventive. Despite of the large number of guests attending the show that night, we had the impression to receive a very unique treatment. Not only from part of the gifted chef, but also from the staff: polite, friendly, efficient, not to say anticipating, despite being under considerable pressure to serve everyone. A lady left her bag beside the table when living the ballroom; despite of the semi-obscurity, the waiter could identify the owner, and notify her with a smile that she was forgetting her belonging. Very professional, indeed!
The "Service Premier" represents more than an upgraded menu: introduced in 2007 to improve the prestige of the Lido among VIP visitors, it comes with a with a range of extremely dedicated services: personalized welcome (actually you don't need to stand in the long queue to get in, thanks to the fast track pass!), free cloakroom, aperitif served at your table or at the bar, complimentary program, reserved individual table in the VIP row, "privileged service", water and coffee.
One critic? Indirectly, yes: the non-smoking policy -actually influenced by a new French law- will please 70% of the guests. Which is fine. Nevertheless, a smoking corner is missing. One night in The Lido without a good cigar is lacking something.
code is casual elegant; in the dinning section, guests tend to be quite
smart, though the friendly staff closes an indulgent eye on the wave of
tourists wearing tee shirts and jeans attending the second 11:30pm
We nevertheless recommend you to wear the appropriate attire: just to
the legend of the ritzy, romantic Lido.
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