All About Yves Buzz

By Margaret Kemp It has to be said that, among the chattering gastro-classes, gossip revolves around the latest hot news/canteen/bankruptcy/lost stars. Of late, no culinary conversation was complete without reference to Yves Camdeborde, who changed the face of Paris bistros with his La Regalade. Why? Because he brought a nouveau generosity to bistro cuisine; inherited from his native Béarn (home of sauce Béarnaise, darling). He mixed and matched, bringing cutting-edge cuisine to the unlovely 14th arrondissement. It was absolutely essential to book at least six weeks ahead to sit elbow to elbow with a fat mec, his permed- haired wife and toutou under the table; nobody cared! There were after all 600 wines available, and the excitement of knowing you were part of something delicious.

No slouch, Yves, he’d been second to Christian Constant at The Crillon, worked with Guy Legay at The Ritz, chez Maxim’s, at La Tour d’Argent. So, after all the posh nosh Yves decided to re-invent the bistro. An edgy individual, he’s not the kind of guy to stay in one place, and when they made him an offer he couldn’t refuse for La Regalade, Yves accepted, went off to re-think his life.

It’s a hot night at Place de l’Odeon where, since mid-April, Camdeborde, and his Mrs, Claudine, have taken over the Comptoir du Relais and the adjacent Hotel Relais Saint-Germain. The Comptoir, where Hemingway, Picasso, Joyce, Matisse once chilled, has quickly become the canteen of the top chefs, spot them heads down, Piege, Constant, Frechon, Breton, Pegouret, Julie Andrieu, they all adore everything about Yves’ cuisine.

And so will you. He dashes in and out of his tiny kitchen, sweating pints, excited with his new lifestyle, “a different challenge”.  Yves’ menu changes daily and, attention, there’s no changes made here but, “let me know when you book if you’re vegetarian/allergic, I’ll certainly prepare something”.

You’d be hard put to find fault with to-night’s offering: In a glass, jus glacé de petit pois mentholé, des de foie gras de canard. Followed by a fine gelée d’araignee de mer, mousseline de courgettes relevée péquillo. The main: Supreme de pigeon (tender as the night, perfectly cooked) paired with ravioli de legumes, brochette de foie, jus d’olive. Try a Vosne-Romanée Les Clous Domaine Prieure Roch 2000 See the REAL Europe with Rail Europe (55€) or a less expensive Cahors Solis Matthieu Cosse 2001 (15€). Both slip down well with the sublime cheese board (affineur Monsieur Boursault) left on the table for you, as is a loaf of crusty pain Poujarin.

Dessert could be Nougatine de ganache chocolat, glace chocolat au piment d’Espelette, crème café. And to finish, petit chocolate caramels, and don’t be surprised if Yves rushes in with a big box of guimauve au basilic to offer around. You’re chez lui here.

And the hotel. 21 divine roomy designer rooms and a superb suite, with terrace. Darling, if you want to feel like a literary lout stay here. Each room is named after a famous writer/poet, say, Molière (the best suite), Voltaire, Descartes, Diderot, Stendahl.  The authentic 17th century architecture has not been touched, just touched-up. Think plasma screens, in-room data ports, marble bathrooms, sound-proofing, floral chintz fabrics and space to breathe and hang your hat.

And what, you may enquire, has become of La Regalade? The new chef/owner is Bruno Doucet (ex-second to Jean Pierre Vigato at Apicius). While waiting for a table at either Le Comptoir or La Regalade, try Les Papilles, where you’ll discover Camderborde’s classic corbeille de cochonnaille and his terrines, featured in this atmospheric petit “bistroy”, and you can take away too. Swear you made it yourself!


Le Comtoir du Relais,
9, Carrefour de L’Odeon, 6th (Metro: Odeon)
T: 01 43 29 12 05
Menu 40€ + wine

Hotel Relais Saint-Germain,
9, carrefour de l’Odeon, 6th.
T: 01 44 27 07 97
From 210€, breakfast, taxes and service included.

La Regalade,
49 avenue Jean Moulin, 14th (Metro: Alesia)
T: 01 45 45 68 58

Les Papilles,
30 rue Guy-Lussac, 5th (Metro: Maubert-Mutualité)
T: 01 43 25 20 79



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