EPICURE (LE BRISTOL) (Eric Frechon) (*****L): With three Michelin star, this is one of the top five hotel restaurants in Paris. Chef Eric Frechon, "Meilleur Ouvrier de France" 1993 (=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 Epicure. 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 Epicure, 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.
We would only like to claim on one subject, related to nostalgy: Le Bristol traditionally operated two dining rooms for its gastronomic restaurant, depending on the season. We did 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 was adorned with magnificent Regency hand-carved woodworking in Hungarian oak. Its glass roof was 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 completed the decor, enriched by crystal chandeliers and a unique game table by Trehern. Such a splendor has been turned into a reception room by the new management: which is a pity. Though Epicure opens to the largest hotel garden existing in the capital, making you feel away from Paris stressing life, the museum-like winter restaurant was so capturing and so "grande époque"! We miss it...
EPICURE (at HOTEL LE BRISTOL ): 112, rue du Faubourg St Honoré, 75008 Paris
PHONE: (+33-1) 53 43 43 00 FACSIMILE:(+33-1) 53 43 43 01
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 well established outlet opened almost one
decade ago, the late Robuchon
had 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”.
Another signature, the “French Quail from Villard Les Dombes, stuffed with Foie Gras” (EUR 33), sweetly caramelised with soja and honey, served with a double portion of Robuchon's legendary mashed potatoes, was simply brilliant, paired with one glass of aristocratic Tuscan “Tenuta San Guido Sassicaia, Bolgheri 2010” (EUR 60 by the glass). Powerful but graceful, this is one of the most collectible Italian wines.
Alternatively, fish lovers will like the “Seared Scallops served on Chicory Salad with Curcuma Vinaigrette and shaved Alba White Truffles” (EUR 52). A delicacy, amazingly light and palatable; though the weak fragrance of the first white truffles of the Autumn was much covered by the exquisite vinaigrette. Assisted by brilliant “companions”, like Fabien François and the young and charming Mélanie Serre, acting in the kitchen the day of our last visit in October 2015, this is a pure example of the creativity and the genius displayed in that category of restaurants. Words are missing to describe the sophistication of some dishes done to be tasted; not to be literalized. Head sommelier Alessio Delfino paired it with invigoring, yet sumptuous, “Condrieu, Côte Chatillon, Domaine Bonnefond 2010” (EUR 30 by the glass): a very herbal, aromatic wine produced in a small bio vineyard from viognier white-wine grape variety.
lacy display bouquet of charming fruit of a dense “Corton Charlemagne Grand
Cru 2012, Au
Pied du Mont Chauve” (EUR 58 by the glass), paired ad hoc
watering “Pan-Fried Sole
(EUR 79). Classic and classy, the generous portion treats two persons
Average bill for this fabulous two Michelin Star restaurant is EUR 150 - 200 up.
Open daily until 12 AM.
DIANE (*****L): Still a well kept secret
the five-star Hotel Fouquet’s
Barrière gourmet restaurant makes gastronomy rhyming with
Those finding the prices little bit steep “à la carte”, will like the reasonable menus «Découverte» (EUR 48 / 2 dishes or EUR 58 / 3 dishes) and «Ambrosial» (EUR 128 excluding beverages, or EUR 200 including the Sommelier selection), making Le Diane one of the best value gourmet restaurants in Paris Triangle of Gold.
managed by the Lucien
group of hotels.
LE DIANE: 46 avenue George V, 75008 Paris
PHONE: +33 1 (0) 40696060 FACSIMILE: +33 1 (0) 40696005
LILI (*****L): More than the «bistro-chic» L'Oiseau Blanc, this is The Peninsula Hotel proclaimed gastronomic restaurant and, undoubtedly, the best Chinese fine-dining option in Paris. A title disputed with the Shang Palace (at Shangri-La Hotel), which we found definitely inferior in term of design, atmosphere, and cuisine. Maybe have we been impressed by the opulence of the dining-room? A bit less authentic, compared with Shang Palace no window room (this is normally how a five star restaurant should be on the Chinese standards), it mixes a bit of Asian bling with a lot of French classicism: high ceiling, wood-paneled walls, precious silk curtains. It has the “Haute Couture” touch, indeed. This makes the Asian visitor feeling like in Paris...and French feeling like in Asia. There are no restaurants like LiLi anywhere else in Paris and the rest of the world.
The same concept has been applied to the cuisine, which has no Michelin-star (blame it on the inspectors!), but plenty of much more valuable stars awarded by the guests.
What really makes the difference, and what actually impressed us, is the alliance of the richest French ingredients to provide the best of Asian gastronomy. Executive Chef Dicky To, from Hong-Kong, is an alchemist: using the treasures of the French terroir, he caters to his guests with a 100% truly Cantonese cuisine... plus this little extra in term of taste and texture, which we found nowhere else in the world.
Moreover, we did appreciate the wine pairing experience. Exceptional in an Asian restaurant, it has the level of a three-Michelin star. We know this for spending a great part of our life in Asia: it's attempting the impossible to pair richly spiced dishes with good wine. Moreover when those spices are named chili, ginger, or curry. Head sommelier Nicolas Charrière took up the challenge brilliantly. One of the reasons which will take us back to LiLi is actually his expert wine pairing and Epicurian humour.
Lunch or dinner? We hesitated in making it cheaper and faster, with the fairly priced EUR 52 Bento-Style Lunch Set Menu (served from Tuesday to Friday); or much more glamorous in the mesmerizing, somehow magic evening atmosphere. We opted for the second option, allowing more time for the gastronomic experience. We don't regret it. The level of service was the same compared with Epicure at Hotel Le Bristol, or Taillevent. With that special, so refined oriental touch. We liked the parsimonious, carefully measured light, providing a nice romantic touch which reaches a climax when, like us, you are lucky enough to sit in the discreet VIP boxes located just right from the entrance. We felt totally secluded from the main dining-room, which was full the evening of our visit.
We skipped the aperitif, preferring one glass of Champagne “Pierre Péters, Cuvée de Réserve , Blanc de Blancs Brut”. Awarded 91 points by “Wine Advocate-Parker”, this a bit confidential “Propriétaire-Récoltant”, based in Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, elaborates one of the finest Brut. At EUR 26€ by the glass, that was our first good surprise at LiLi. It ideally paired “Shredded Bresse Chicken and Jellyfish Salad, with Chinese Radish in Sesame Sauce” (EUR 30). We well noticed the very unique aroma and texture of the Bresse Chicken. Second good surprise: the portions were generous, actually responding to the expectation from the Asian guests. Alternatively, we could also recommend “Challans Poultry Kung Pao” (EUR 40), offering a 3D experience in term of taste, texture, and setting into the plate. This is a signature dish, much ordered by the regular patrons (some of them may visit LiLi up to three times per week!).
We actually wished to start with Dim Sum. But those succulent dumplings are not served in the evening, conforming to the tradition: including them in all meals, from breakfast until tea-time, excluding dinner. But the charming and anticipating restaurant manager, Fanny Vale, who spent a great part of her professional life in Asia, made an exception just for us! We could enjoy the chef's green and saffron Dim Sum, featuring again local products like ceps and crunchy wild shrimps. Chinese cuisine features mushrooms a lot; but that was the first time that we had ceps in our dumplings, stylishly served in a silver steam-basket. The selection proposed at lunchtime costs EUR 38.
More flavor and more exciting textures, with the delicately spicy “French Obsiblues Prawns” (EUR 48), which were one of our preferred dishes. It made us feeling like traveling in the direction to the South of China, with one step into Thailand where spices are used melodiously, without any “faux pas”. Which was the case at LiLi. The wine pairing was ad hoc, with “Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Clos du Mont Olivet, Joseph Sabon”. We hadn't drunk “Chateauneuf-du-Pape” “Blanc” for ages, and almost forgot the existence of this wine of exception more interesting that Sancerre when it comes to pair it with the complex combination of spicy/fishy flavors.
We were mostly done, but couldn't resist the... irresistible: “Sautéed Jasmine Rice with Lacquered Goose Liver and Aveyron Beef” (EUR 45€). That was the highlight of our dinner.
It was not possible to skip some sweets though...we like all in the Chinese cuisine, except the usually disappointing desserts. This was not the case at LiLi, where they have been totally thought for a French palate. Chef To's very bistro “Crème Brûlée” was exceptional; but the must was “Mango Pudding Hong Kong Style”, boosting such a yummy fragrance and soft texture, paired with one glass of sweet like honey Hungarian “Tokaji Aszú 5 Puttonyos, Disznókó, 2008” (EUR 22€). Quite forgotten in France since decades, Tokaji is still a trend at the Peninsula (we experienced it at L'Oiseau Blanc also). Five “Puttonyos” means that this late harvest wine has got the highest degree of maturated grape with its natural sugar. It was tasting like a dessert too!
Everything went at its highest at LiLi, and we couldn't recommend more this exceptional - we could say essential!- restaurants, where the expert gourmet knowing Chinese cuisine like his right hand will discover new savours.
Dress code smart casual. Open for lunch: 12:00 – 2:30pm. Dinner: 7:00pm - 10:30pm (11:00pm on Thursday, Friday and Saturday). Closed on Sunday and Monday.
LILI (PENINSULA HOTEL): 19, avenue Kléber - 75116 Paris
PHONE: +33 1 58 12 67 50
L'OISEAU BLANC (*****L): The glass-roof-topped dining room, with a view on the
Eiffel Tower, or the breezy panoramic summer terrace, would be enough
to fascinate any spoiled tourist. The service, beating many
Michelin-star restaurants, would please a king. The on-request pick-up
from any place in Paris by a sumptuous Rolls Royce Phantom transforms
the gourmet in a Hollywood Oscar winner. A place for foodies, this
“bistro chic” version of a gastronomic restaurant is first of all the
gourmand annex to the Paris Stock-Exchange (patronized by the CAC 40
CEOs), and the theatre of the society life: where the rich and
famous mix up with classy tourists.
somehow provincial but definitely succulent, we would also recommend
“High-Seas Whiting and Razor Clams”, stewed with leeks, celery and
crispy melon. We paired both dishes with mythic and opulent “Vougeot
Ier Cru, Clos Blanc de Vougeot, Domaine de la Vougeraie 2012” (EUR 43
by the glass).
The bill, excluding
beverage, is surprisingly affordable. Appetizer + main dish / or main
dish + dessert was EUR 57 in winter 2016. Appetizer + main dish +
dessert: EUR 69.
ALAIN DUCASSE (*****L): Obviously, the "Master" Alain Ducasse is not always present, but the kitchen team led by Frederic Garnier 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 recently reopened Plaza Athénée. 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 by Christophe Michalak's team 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 Gérard Margeon, 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 radical and surprising decor designed by Sanjit Manku and long-time associate Patrick Join, to minor details with a major impact, such as the cutlery and plates, the style of the glasses... and even the serving trolleys!
Fixed price: EUR 200, 300. A la carte: EUR 250.
G.P. - G.M.
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.
LA TERRASSE DU RAPHAËL (*****L): One
of the top 10 rooftop terraces in Paris, and certainly the most
exclusive, this enchanting place has a hanging garden that offers a
360° view of Paris and the Eiffel Tower. A haven of peace in the heart
of the posh “Golden Triangle”, this is with L'Oiseau
Blanc, Epicure, and Le
one of the most noticeable and pleasant places for a gastronomic
experience in Paris. Or just a “Bloody Mary”, as this is also one of
the most visited cocktail bars in town, beating in style the “Bar
Anglais” located in the same, supremely stylish Hotel Raphaël.
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.
PIERRE GAGNAIRE (*****L): As
on the opening night of Victor Hugo's play Hernani, there are champions
and critics, cheers and boos, with some praising it to the skies and
others shooting it down in flames. Yes, three-star Michelin Pierre
Gagnaire is controversial, which
is no bad thing. This genius of flavors has always been a mine of
ideas, constantly revising the thousand and one dishes he invents and
his ways of presenting them. The aim here is innovation as well as
originality Thrill to the exhilarating millefeuille with arugula
whipped cream seasoned with spring onion jus, the speck ham and
peppered mint with cherry juice, the golden Bresse liver gateau with
glazed crayfish nage seasoned with Pouilly-Fuissé accompanied by
Perthius asparagus tips, new onions, and Menton lemon paste. Gasp at
the daring langoustines with a green mango tartare and crunchy sheet of
nougatine and mustard currant syrup that are pan-fried with “Terre de
Sienne” spices, served with a broth foam and a slice of black
radish-chilled consommé dusted with carob powder The performance is not
over yet. We applaud as the curtain rises on rack of Lozere lamb,
roasted and poached with oregano, served with crisped fresh herbs and
swiss chard enrobed with pan juices, cloves of garlic, shallots, and
eggplant and chill-seasoned Madagascar jumbo shrimp cooked with prune
eau-de-vie, grilled medallions of lamb with rich lamb sauce, zuchinni
flowers, and cold reduction sauce as a condiment. Barely a moment to
recover and Pierre Gagnaire's grand finale is with us: nine desserts
inspired by French pâtisserie, made with seasonal fruit, lightly
sugared confections, and chocolates. The service is perfection itself,
including the choice of wines, which can be left unreservedly to
Raphaël Huet. However, such prodigies come at a price.
SUR MESURE (*****L): Two Michelin star-holder Thierry Marx, one of France most famous avant-garde chefs, actively develops his molecular, exciting and sometimes puzzling cuisine “Sur Mesure” (hotel Mandarin Oriental Paris). The white/cream design of the swanky dining room is worth the visit. Marx likes to surprise the eyes, and tickle the taste buds. This is a very personal opinion, but we found the place too Zen: like designed for meditating, not for banqueting. Those who come for a secret dinner will understand how strange it feels when you can't share any intimate (or business) discussion with your companion, or business partner. There is not much space between the tables, and it doesn't' help...
That was our unique con. The rest of the experience was totally pro, as it always used to be with Mandarin Oriental. The group is famous for the cosmic quality of its F&B; and with Marx and his brilliant brigade in the kitchen, the experience was scheduled for success.
With one of the best staff in Paris, Sur Mesure is indeed a palace-hotel restaurant. We arrived before our guest and, immediately, some newspapers have been presented to help us to kill time. The room was almost full. Most of the guests were women, and relatively young couples. We found it refreshing, compared with the other top-luxury restaurants usually patronized by businessmen and mature gourmets. Another particularity: maybe were we lucky the days of our two visits to his restaurants at MO Paris, but Thierry Marx was here, in person. Lots of Michelin-star chefs prefer to delegate to their sous-chef. This detail does matter.
Very much influenced by Asia, his cuisine is refined, nicely colored and textured (molecular "ma non-troppo"), served in tiny -we said tiny!- portions. The amuse bouche could feed an anorexic model, not an old school gastronome. But with the "Seven Courses Lunch Menu", we found the concept ideal. We started with a surprising “Structured and Destructured Paella”, and “Soy & Oysters Risotto” with Chanterelles Mushrooms. Marx likes soy, and his signature dish is permanently featured on the menu. An alliance between two worlds and continents: the neutral sweetness of soy meets the brute strength of truffle and oyster. Same great impression -and concept- with the “Earth & Sea Foie Gras / Smoked Eel”. A tailor made, “sur mesure”!, pairing. We liked the more classic, yet classy, “Lacquered John Dory / Potatoes from Noirmoutier & olives from Kalamata”, which was our favorite dish. Fishy, Mediterranean, and finally more bistro than “haute cuisine”. Yet delicious.
Those preferring meat as a main dish, should order “Veal in «Three Ways» / Carrot & Rhubarb / Vinegar powder”: a successful, sweet and sour alchemy. Thumbs up to the new generation of chefs re-discovering rhubarb: such a magic ingredient! Bistro-chic again, Marx's “Challans » Duckling / Raspberries & Onions, was succulent and reflecting its Two-Michelin star.
As a dessert, we made it the Asian way, with “Sweet Bento”, petits-fours, mousses, and other sweets inspired by Japan. It has a feminine touch, and our Indochinese guest was on cloud nine...
Note that the warmly recommended “Seven Courses Lunch Menu” is served from Tuesday to Friday only, and costs EUR 150. Including taxes. There was no packaged wine pairing, though the ravishing and professional “sommelière” managed a convenient selection of relatively affordable wines. This resulted in a bill, for two, at approximately EUR 450.
Don't leave the “Sur Mesure” before a short visit to the washroom covered in bright pink scales... Surely the most surprising in Paris, in one of the most surprising restaurants in France... and therefore in the world.
Dress code casual elegant.
Open for lunch, 12 – 2 pm (Tue – Sat), and dinner, 7:30 – 9:30 pm (Tue – Sat).
SUR MESURE (HOTEL MANDARIN ORIENTAL PARIS): 251 rue Saint-Honoré, 75001 Paris
PHONE: +33 (0)1 70 98 78 88
CAMELIA (****L): This bistro-chic restaurant at hotel Mandarin Oriental Paris, is an ideal approach of Marx's cuisine. The cool dining room opens to the Asian style courtyard-garden. Though “Sur Mesure” might look more exciting and exclusive, we preferred our lunch at Camélia. More casual, and with a more understandable mixture of textures and savours.
Already one of the capital's top gastronomic restaurants, Camélia caters Marx basic rules “Cooking, is for looking at, meditating on and eating”... and the straight, business oriented “45 minutes – 45 Euros”. We must admit that chef's philosophy materializes successfully in the plate. The “Open Crab Ravioli, Turmeric, Purée of Fava Beans” has been obviously inspired by the Chinese steamed raviolis “Dim Sum”, and constitutes one of Marx's specialities you might find “à la carte” all year long. Light and excellent, this was certainly the most original dish on an apparently very classic offer. The mouth watering “Roasted Pigeon, with Strawberry-infused Rhubarb” looked also well inspired, thus we preferred to order a grilled “Sea Bream”, which was splendid and came in a generous portion. Alternatively, it can be served as a carpaccio, with pineapple and ginger. We had both courses and our dessert -yummy Lemon Tart- with a glass of Champagne Bolinger Brut Special Cuvée (EUR 24), and the total bill was approximately EUR 100. More than 45 EUR and more than 45 minutes, as we took all time to enjoy and relax; but with a globally positive impression which might gave us the envy to visit this fine table again next time we visit Paris.
Dress code casual elegant.
Open daily for breakfast, 7 – 11am, and lunch, 12:30 – 11:00 pm.
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 in Le Diane, what one calls «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.
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 jaded Parisian who despinsingly consider it a tourist trap. It is not, indeed. Of course, the lavish dining 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 actually a top class brasserie; not a «grand restaurant». Those who cannot wait a couple of minutes before getting seated in the noisy, animated dining-rooms or terraces might feel frustrated somehow. Which is a pity, as we always experienced at Le Café de la Paix a most pleasant and entertaining gastronomic experience.
The gifted and friendly Chef Christophe Raoux, "Meilleur Ouvrier de France 2015", 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 Café de la Paix» (a rich selection of seafood from the counter, at EUR 79), we preferred to order more sophisticated dishes, reflecting Raoux's skill.
We got though the extended menu, one glass of well chilled, rich and full, actually legendary (better than Dom Perignon!) «Champagne Bollinger, La Grande Annee, Brut - 2004» (EUR 36 by the glass), and ordered «Cocotte Egg» (EUR 27): richly perfumed with precious truffle, Paris ham and baby spinach shoots, this was a dreamed starter. More truffle? Straightly choose the three Michelin star «Truffled Crawfish» (EUR 66): this signature dish, very much «Belle Epoque», is a reference to Paul Bocuse's Nouvelle Cuisine. A soup with generous bites of crawfish, hidden under a golden puff pastry crust, it looked and tasted like the «Black Truffle VGE Consommé», elaborated specially by Monsieur Paul for President Valery Giscard D'Estaing in 1975. Are you vegetarian? Do like us, and visit the restaurant in June to enjoy «Green Asparagus, Soft Smoked Salt, Ginger Fennel» (EUR 36).
We warmly recommend what many call the best «Classic Beef Tartare» (EUR 34), chopped and prepared the old-school way: on a trolley, besides our table. We got it all «à la carte», and will next time experience the very attractive and much affordable «Garden Market & Before Show Menu» (EUR 51 for starter + main course + dessert) which featured, the day of our visit, a very appetizing «Flamed Veal Kidneys, Old Port Wine, Millefeuille layering of Potato», or «Sweetbread served with Better and Weetened Salad, Braised Sorrel» (EUR 55): that kind of dishes which will certainly, sooner or later, honor Raoux with a merited Michelin star. Pair it with one glass of «Côte Rôtie Brune et Blonde E. Guigal 2007» (EUR 22 by the glass): one of the best red-wine appellation at the northern tip of France's Rhone Valley.
Besides the legendary seafood assortments which have been making the reputation of Café de La Paix since 1862 (the "Plateau Prestige", for 2, featuring finest quality lobsters and oysters, is fantastic at EUR 185), fish is one of Raoux's specialities. During our last visit, in June 2015, we tasted his 3 signatures dishes, all paired with richly perfumed, somehow exotic «Condrieu E. Guigal, 2012» (EUR 22 by the glass): our favourite, «Ile d'Yeu Anglerfish, St Flour Yellow Lentils, Cockles / Seaweed» (EUR 47), always comes with a WOW factor, the interesting «Char, Savoy Country Pasta and Creamy Mixed Herbs Sauce» (EUR 46), and so-refined «Turbot, Asparagus, Vegetable Parmentier / Marjoram» (EUR 54).
Pastries are classic, elegant and worth the visit: the yummy Millefeuille (EUR 16) is a best seller; we would also like to suggest the lighter, so refreshing «Litchy, Pear, Raspberry, Madeleine Sponge Cake, surrounding Mering, Lime Zest» (EUR 16).
seen, the Café de la Paix is worth the experience. This is Paris!
(****L): Executive-Chef Edward
Uchiyama, after serving in George V and Joël Robuchon, is now
hiring his talent to this so-Parisian gastronomic venue which looks
like all but a hotel restaurant. It has a separate entrance from the
Paris Avenue Marceau, and deals more with local patrons (lots
of businessmen the day of our visit; few ladies in sight...) than with
foreign travellers. Which is somehow a pity:
as M64 is part of those still confidential fine dining places, offering
a remarkable French cuisine at a most decent bill until a well-merited
Michelin star -or two- might increase it quite a lot.
FAUBOURG (Eric Frechon / Eric Desbordes) (****L): Located
in the hotel Le Bristol new
in October 2009, this bistro-chic where the action goes is attended by
artists, fashionists, journalists and -much more important-
Designed on a duplex-level 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 slightly kitch place still provides a fine dining 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. Once the «Elysée Palace coffee shop» (during his reign, Nicolas Sarkozy's special advisers liked to sit there), this is now a familiar haunt for businessmen or celebrities from the local show business; the rich and famous still prefer the posh, more gastronomic Epicure restaurant.
We are in the merge of fine-dining, 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.
The « 114 Faubourg
» is a must be tried, indeed. With 90
seats only, and many regular guests, booking is essential.
114 FAUBOURG (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
in the high-fashion row, with Hermès, Chanel, and all the other
prestigious brands located a stone's throw, this restaurant, opened on
May 2017 in the ritzy Sofitel
Paris Le Faubourg, reflects its environment. Chic and light, it
offers a “couture cuisine”,
updated so often that what we experienced yesterday couldn't be served
tomorrow. Alexandre Auger, trained at “Dali” by Michelin star chef
Yannick Alleno, before working at Victoria 1836, is inspired by the
seasons: improvising Blossom's offer according to the freshness and
quality of the ingredients. Some call his cuisine “vegan”: which
sounds eggagerated, though he actually puts vegetables in the center of
SHANG PALACE (****L): Since
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.
Richly filled, Frank Xu's dumplings can be
with what we used to eat in fine Hong Kong or Singapore restaurants.
The Crab Meat Dumpling in Superior Clear Soup was also very reminiscent
of our trips to Asia. We found the Fried Egg Noodles with Shredded
Chicken and Bean Sprouts in Superior Soya Sauce quite good; though you
will find exactly the same dish in a cheap Chinese delicatessen in
Belleville or Porte de Choisy (the Chinese districts in Paris). The
portion was huge and we quickly felt full stomach; surprisingly, a
waiter asked whether we would like to take it away in a doggie bag?
Astonishing in a palace hotel, but not at all in an oriental
restaurants where this practice is most common.
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.
PINXO (****L): 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.
BIVOUAC CAFE (****L): Located in the sublime Hôtel Napoléon, our home away from home and one of the most prestigious addresses in Paris, the private-club like restaurant distinguishes itself by its refined privacy most convenient for a business lunch or a subtle romance in the shadow of the Arch of Triumph. The place boosts so much charm, with its British bar & lounge, Mahogany woodwork in warm tones, deep armchairs and sofas, subdued lighting, and dome frescoes, plus a very chic outdoor terrace. inviting you to experience Parisian street life on Avenue de Friedland as soon as the first rays of sun appear.
We experienced the Bivouac Café dozens of times during our repeated stays at Hôtel Napoléon. This is the place for one of the best breakfast experience in Paris, indeed: beating in quality some major palace-hotels of Paris “Golden Triangle” with one of the best trained staff ever, displaying crunchy "Baguettes", great French cheese, and a generous selection of high quality cold/hot meals (fried farm-eggs in cast-iron cookware are amazingly delicious). From midday to 3pm, Monday to Friday, Executive Chef Olivier Le Gentil, specialises in Mediterranean cuisine, using herbs, seasonings and olive oil. He was the chef in 2 restaurants in Normandy, before joining the Hôtel Napoléon 12 year ago.
At lunch time, regular patrons order from the savvy 3 course “Menu du Marché” (EUR 44). After one glass of Champagne “Brut Bruno Paillard Rosé”, we ordered “Goose Liver”, served over a slate plate with freshly baked olive bread. We paired it with “Haut Brion, Clarendelle 2009, a red second-wine produced in Pessac (Bordeaux) by Château Haut Brion, reputed for its first growth Premier Crus Classé. At EUR 10 by the glass, we would warmly recommend this aristocratic red wine. Fish was nicely cooked and elegantly presented in quite a generous portion: “Shade-Fish Osso Bucco, sautéed with fresh Ginger and diced Vegetables”. We enjoyed it with well chilled “Sancerre Henri Bourgeois, Grande Réserve 2014”, one of our favourite white wines from Berry (Loire Valley), at EUR 9 by the glass. The dessert was so yummy: a classic and classy “Lemon Meringue Pie”.
BIVOUAC CAFE (at HOTEL NAPOLEON): 40 Avenue de Friedland 75008 Paris
PHONE: +331 56684321 FACSIMILE : +331 47668233
LIDO (****): The eye-popping revue “Bonheur” celebrated its 10th birthday in 2013. The most expensive show in Europe –and maybe in the world- features 70 artists on stage, 600 sumptuous costumes and 23 monumental sets in a brilliant cabaret atmosphere, with impressive special stage effects. The fairy looking lead dancer with a glamourous voice (Dutch singer Carien Keiser) lands on the scene from a cloud, skaters glide on the ice amongst other fantastic attractions, 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 cabaret-restaurants in Paris.
We found two advantages in dining 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, for supper, at 7:30pm: entertained by Diana's crooner songs, accompanied by the swinging Lido jazz band. The other spectators arrive at 9:30 for "Champagne & Show". Second advantage: 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 like very much “Service Premier” (EUR 300) because it lavishly features delicacies like “Lobster Medallions“, and vintage Champagne: ours was a fresh, pleasantly nutty remarkable “R de Ruinart Brut, 1999”). 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 Shellfish Vinaigrette, and Sicilian Caponata (shopped fried eggplant, capers and celery seasoned with sweetened vinegar). 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!). 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.
More recently (Spring 2014) we opted for more simplicity with the "Soirée Panache" (EUR 180, including 1/2 bottle of Champagne). The regularly updated menu featured attractive offers: like crunchy “Prawns Lamb's Lettuce and Avocado Salad, Granny-Smith Apple”, “Cod Loin, Baby Potatoes and Pearl Onions, Sauce Diable” in a generous portion, and yummy Paris-Brest like “Salted Butter Crème Caram Duchesse, Roasted Pear”.
Food presentation is always elegant and inventive, though not over sophisticated. Despite of the large number of guests attending the show, 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!
code is casual elegant; in the dining 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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