“It’s all about encounter, emotion and wanting. I have this profound desire to get back to the roots and traditions of my profession.” This is really “nice one” Cyril Lignac explaining the concept behind his recently launched Le Chardenoux des Prés, Restaurant de Tradition. By the way, “Nice One Cyril” comes from the song dedicated to Cyril Knowles, the ’70s English football legend.
Cyril Lignac’s back story begins in the Aveyron region where he was born and raised. Arriving in Paris he had a small suitcase and burning ambition to become a great chef. There followed Arpège with Passard, La Maison Blanche with the Pourcels, Korova with Pierre Hermé, La Grande Cascade and La Suite, Avenue George V. With his great looks and undoubted talent he was quickly spotted by M6 TV for whom he presented Oui Chef, which became a catch-phrase, as well known as “Nice One Cyril” and “Chef La Recette.” On the back of these he was able to open his own restaurant, Le Quinzième.
In 2008, after runaway success at the contempory Le Quinzième, “Nice One” took over the Belle-Epoque listed Le Chardenoux bistro in the 11th arrondissement. He gave it a nip and tuck and revised and corrected the traditional dishes, focusing on fresh market products.
In the meantime Quinzième Attitude, the definitive cookery school was launched.
One legendary address can follow another and when the opportunity to take over Claude Sainlouis‘ 1950s Left Bank bistro, Cyril did not hesitate. Delon, Mitterand, Belmondo, the Grimaldis, Gainsbourg, YSL, and Pierre Bergé all had 27, rue de Dragon on their Rolodexes.
Fascinated by the history of restaurant Sainlouis, Lignac re-named it “Le Chardenoux des Prés,” his concept to be in the same neo-tradi theme as “Le Chardenoux.”
Working with Studio KO, they lengthened the marble bar, re-hung the portraits of former French presidents in the lounge, and restored the beautiful floral wallpaper. It now has the feel of nothing being touched, but of course, it has. The original mustard-colored stoneware tiling blends splendidly with the rich camel-brandy color of the leather banquettes. The tables are lit with vintage ’50s lamps found at the Saint Ouen flea market.
But what about the food?
“The food I like to feature in my bistros is first and foremost authentic. All products are from the regions of France from the best artisans and farmers, who are my friends”, he explains. Start with plump lobster ravioli. Or Crab crumble, warm crushed potatoes, French dressing or Sea Bream carpaccio, ginger-flavoured sour cream. Let sommelier Grégory Moreau (head sommelier at Le Quinzième) choose something from his cellar selection. White Vallée du Paradis, Domaine Val Auclair 2009 (28€) Rosé Cassis, Château de Fontblanche, 2010 (37€) Red Coteaux de Languedoc “La Croix Bebian” 2008 (26€). Continue with mains of, say, Black Angus grilled beef, sauce Béarnaise; Beef tartare, French fries; Eggplant Moussaka; Corrèze sweetbreads, spicy sauce, carrot purée with curcuma; Monkfish curry baked casserole, Basmati rice. Then a chunk of Jean-Yves Bordier’s Saint Nectaire and classic desserts for which the restaurant is noted. Vanilla bourbon rice pudding. Baba au Rhum. Wild strawberries, lemon sorbet. Chocolate soufflé. French toast with cherries and pistachio ice cream. Lemon meringue tart. Fresh hazelenut ice cream. Tarte Tatin and crème fraîche.
There’s a great Left Bank atmosphere here, always something intriguing going on. Like celebrity newspaper seller Ali Akbar coming through with his newspapers—if you’re lucky he’ll tell you about the times Mitterrand bought from him. The presidential couple still do today. That’s Ali in the photo. Nice One Cyril. Bon Appétit!
Chardenoux des Prés, Restaurant de Tradition
27, rue du Dragon, Paris 6th
Métro: Saint Germain-des-Prés/Mabillon
Tél: 01 45 48 29 68
Open 7/7 Lunch & Dinner
Lunch formula 3 courses 25€ Mon-Friday
A La carte average spend – 40€
Valet Parking at night
Re-opens after summer break 16th August
Maison Kayser marks 15 years
Eric Kayser‘s such a huggable chef everyone wants to be one of his Sweet & Savoury Tarts. Only joking, that’s the title of one of his mouthwatering cookbooks. Now the 4th-generation baker with the Robert Redford looks is celebrating 15 years since he opened his first bakery at 8, rue Monge. The lines grew longer each day, people met and married and now their children are lining up to bag the warm pain aux chocolat/framboise and his seasonal breads, pastries, jams, even lunching and brunching in his restaurants. Eric now has outlets all over the world, but the quality is still the same. “It’s all down to the flour,” and he grins that grin. He reckons tarts are easy, “you can put anything into a tart.” Oh Eric, we love you. You’re naughty but nice.
If you’re in Paris and wish you were in Marseilles, pop along to Prunier, avenue Victor Hugo for a Bouillabaisse fix. Bouillabaisse à la Parisienne, revised and corrected by the talented Eric Coisel, is inspired by the colors and flavours of the Mediterranean. He uses coquillages and crustacés from the 1929 recipe created by chef Michel Bouzy (great name for a chef, non?) Lotte, rouget barbet, rascasse, Saint-Pierre, encornets, couteaux, moules et autres palourdes avec petits légumes et de belles garnitures (potatoes and rice). Croutons, et bien sûr, lots of aioli. Drink Côtes de Provence “Vieilles Vignes” Lalonde, Domaine de Saint André de Figuière. Mmm, makes the mouth water.
16, avenue Victor Hugo, Paris 16th
Métro: Victor Hugo/Charles de Gaulle Etoile,
Tél: 01 44 17 35 85
Diary Date: Les Etoiles de Mougins, September 16-18
The 6th Festival Les Etoiles de Mougins, Festival International de la Gastronomie et des Arts de Vivre plays on the theme: “Chef d’Oeuvre ou Oeuvre de Chef?” What? Well, Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, Le Violon d’Ingres, Déjeuner sur l’herbe, etc., are all works of art. Why not? Verge‘s Poupeton de fleurs de courgette or Eric Fréchon‘s Macaronis farcis, truffe noire, artichaut et foie gras de canard, gratinés au vieux parmesan, or Ducasse‘s Baba au Rhum comme à Monte Carlo. Surely, argue the Mougins munchers, these are works of Art—Oeuvres des Chefs?
Les Etoiles de Mougins was created in 2006 as a tribute to Roger Vergé, the daddy of them all. The event has become enormous, with its own dedicated boutique, so you can go there, walk the walk and get the T-shirt. After Vergé, Christian Willer, Marc Veyrat, Emile Jung and Anne-Sophie Pic, this year’s Invité d’Honneur is Eric Fréchon (The Bristol & Mini-Palais). He presides over competitions for all levels of chefs, demonstrations, and tastings. Chef Fréchon’s excited and he told BUZZ about an interesting auction taking place during the Festival. At “La Vaisselle des Chefs,” you can bid for schmutters the chefs have chucked out, but which you’d be thrilled to get your hands on. Definitely worth a visit if you’re in the area.
Need to know re: Little B:
Dominique Bouchet has shut Little B until 30th August. His up-market self-service bistro is a tremendous success, so he’s adding essentials such as posh loos, air-conditioning, and a bar.
“Cela va être super,” promises Bouchet. Note also that the main restaurant re-opens 29th August. See you there.
Margaret Kemp is a Cordon Bleu graduate who spent a year traveling the world, working and watching in the kitchens of top chefs from Sydney, Australia via Bangkok, Hong Kong, California, New York and France. She reports for BonjourParis on the latest European trends, restaurants and hot spots.
Favorite foodie books at our Amazon.com Boutique:
1. A Gourmet Tour of France: Legendary Restaurants from Paris to the Côte d’Azur
2. Au Revoir to All That: Food, Wine, and the End of France [includes Michel Troisgros, Gagnaire, etc.]
3. Great, Grand & Famous Chefs and Their Signature Dishes [includes Troisgros, Bocuse, Ducasse & Robuchon, etc.]
Hotel Le Mathurin is a 4-star hotel located in central Paris, near La Madeleine, Opéra & upscale shopping. Stylish guest rooms decorated with the finest furnishings & contemporary marble bathrooms. Spa with a jacuzzi & hammam. Eligible for the best-price match guarantee from Booking.com.