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Buzz GossipJean-Claude Vrinat, owner of Michelin*** Taillevent restaurant, tells BUZZ he is no longer associated with the Château Restaurant Taillevent Robuchon, in Tokyo’s Ginza district. Seems he wants to continue to develop his wine business, in Japan, really wants to spend more time with his family/at the restaurant/fishing. No question of a dispute between the charming Vrinat and the “difficult” Robochef. No comment from Robo’s charming PA, Christine Ravachal. “He’s much too busy to comment,” she sniffed.
Maybe that’s because Robuchon was just back in town to open his Table de Joel Robuchon (the former Ghislaine Arabian, see previous Buzz columns). It’s an achingly chic 40-seater, brown-and-gold, “no smoking”-anywhere space. Mâitre d’hotel is the delightful Antoine Hernandez, who’s worked with Robuchon more years than he cares to remember. At the pianos, Frederic Simonet, and a menu of light, original dishes which adapt as starter or main-courses. So, you could have three mini-starters; say, Le Tourteau (18€) with avocado, an oeuf en cocotte with morilles and asparagus (13€), and warm tart of lisette with parmesan and olives (13€) or—hang the expense—Le Caviar Oscietre and a soft poached egg (49€).
It’s open 7/7, and the starters make a lovely lunch for the ladies who do, with wines by the glass or some fragrant cheese from the divine fromagerie Donnadieu just across the road. Mains include rare tuna with herbs (32€ or starter-size 17€). Sorry to go on about this, but it is great to have the choice, n’est pas? Le Rouget, Le Merlan and the Saint Pierre, perfect fish, cooked with correct condiments, seasonal veg and herbs, naked of sauces, served by an enthusiastic, well-dressed, staff. They’ve obviously tasted chef-pâtissier Francois Benot’s wild and wonderful creations. Their faces light up when you order Le Yuzu, Le Souffle, Le Secret Tibetain and the Total Rhubarbe; a total success. As is the concept, booked at least 15 days ahead. No wonder, when the freebie starter of Crème de Foie Gras au porto with a froth of parmesan emulsion is waiting. Rush there, beg for a table, tell them Buzz sent you, maybe you’ll get a cancellation.
Haute Couture houses are falling like flies. Ungaro and Balmain will not be showing in July; nor will YSL. The newest haute couture house on the block Jean-Paul Gaultier (est: 2002) may see the writing on the wall, but certainly seems assured of keeping the bread on the table. The designer/enfant terrible of the fashion world is working on putting carbs back in fashion, with his new exhibition of pieces made of bread. “Pain Couture,” running from 6th June-10th October, is Gaultier’s concept of making art and fashion more “vital” by using a basic of human sustenance. So it’s out with the taffeta and tulle, in with the tartines, as the Fondation Cartier transforms into a boulangerie. They’ll even be selling Gaultier-inspired baguettes, baked fresh on the premises. I’m not eating mine; I’m going to wear it!
The edible Paris super-star baker Jean-Luc Poujarin, you probably noticed, is no longer at his ovens 24/7. Seems he’s now dealing with the hotel/restaurant/banqueting side of things, leaving his second to bake pains de campagne, the cannelés, the tartes aux pommes, giant macaroons, etc. “After 30 years I need a break,” is all he’ll say.
Not so Pierre Hermé, still getting up at 5am, having dreamed up a new idea, taste, texture in his inner mental landscape, while we’re all fast asleep. “This year is a turning point in my development,” he told Buzz one recent afternoon, at a tasting in the dining room above his rue Bonaparte boutique. “For the first time, the Spring-Summer and Autumn-Winter Collections share a theme. ‘Retrospective/Perspectives’ will run for 5 seasons: spring, summer, autumn, the year-end holidays and winter.”
“Perspectives” is a recurrent theme in the world of Pierre Hermé. This years creations will reveal where and how they are anchored in the tastes, sensations and pleasures he has invented. The “Retrospective” events will create new excitement on the gourmet scene in early September, in both Paris and Tokyo. But he’s not saying anymore yet! In the meantime, rush to rue Bonaparte to taste the macaroon inspired by a culinary encounter in Central America; Inca, “the macaroon”. Avocado and banana with a dash of lemon, and a bitter chocolate ganache.
There are new jams, created with Christine Ferber, and the Hermé Carré. “With the Carré, I wanted a square that would be fun to eat. I admit I was inspired by the ‘caviar candies’ Marc Veyrat serves at his restaurant. There are three levels of sensation: when you bite into it, the thin coating of white chocolate and cacao butter gives way to the gradually emerging tastes of three textures—violet-flavoured vanilla crème brulée, stewed blackcurrants and a Breton-style sable cookie base”. Powerful stuff.
You may be just in time to celebrate the 20th anniversary with Philippe Faure-Brac (World Top Sommelier 1992). During May, lunch and dinner degustations at his Bistrot du Sommelier (http://www.bistrotdusommelier.com). 1,200 references of perfectly matched wine and food. As Cocteau said: “Rien n’est plus sérieux que le plaisir”.
No doubt the genial Guy Savoy will drink to that. He’s expanding his empire, with the acquisition of Chiberta ( Michelin 1*rue Arsene Houssaye) just behind the Champs-Elysées. Should be open in July, with transformations to the “ocean-liner” Art-Déco-style space by architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte.
It’s the end of an era for Bellecour. After 30 delicious years, the charming Gerard Goutagny has sold up. Seems the chef (Stepahne Molé) from the *Michelin, Les Ormes is taking over the pianos. So is it farewell then to the marvellous Lyonnais specialities, the clapotins, the tabliers de sapeurs, and the fantastic value 44€ menu? And wither Hervé, one of the best Mâitres d’hotel in town? Book now for one last lunch/dinner.
Also moving house (October) is the talented ** Michelin chef Jean-Pierre Vigato. You’ll find him, his wonderful tripes and his sugar-free soufflés, at a really posh hotel-particulier, owned by Luc Besson, in the rue d’Artois (8th). Information on 01 43 80 19 66.
Fashion Ice to cool down, after burning the plastic on avenue Montaigne. Multi-coloured crazy cocktails/ice lollies created by Thierry Hernandez, head barman at The Plaza Athénée. Green Apple Martini, yellow Bellini Martini, red Cosmopolitan and white Pina Colada. Yes, but I hate alcohol, darling. Then there’s Flower Power, a secret alcohol-free refreshing wonder concocted by the hip Hernandez (24€). This is the prelude to lunch or dinner on the sublime Red terrace at the Plaza, where every detail is perfection right up until the freshly plucked herb infusions. 70€ + wine is Buzz’s quality prize/price winner.
Red as the blazing sun of the Mediterranean sea, that remains the color of the courtyard this summer
Red as the Lobster – panisse, shellfish cooking juice, black olive marmalade,
Red as the sunshades adorned with poppies,
Red as the Crayfish and baby vegetable “anchoïade” in a thin tart,
Red as its summer cuisine, tasty, fragrant and colored
Red as the Mediterranean red mullet, juice of a “paella” garnish,
Red as the Rouge Plaza cocktail, a subtle mixture of champagne and geranium served exclusively at La Cour Jardin of the Hôtel Plaza Athénée,
Red as the fans offered to every guest,
Red at last, as the signature dessert of La Cour Jardin this year.
Which is la Fraise à la Fraise, an all strawberry delight…Someone tell Nancy Reagan, she’ll love it.
15 rue Lamenais, 8th (Metro: George V)
T: 01 44 95 15 01
La Table de Joel Robuchon
16 avenue Bugeaud, 16th (Metro: Victor Hugo)
T: 01 56 28 16 16
20 rue Jean Nicot, 7th (Metro: Invalides)
T: 01 47 05 80 88
72 rue Bonaparte, 7th
T: 01 43 54 47 77
Bistro du Sommelier
97 Boulevard Haussmann, 8th
T: 01 42 65 24 85
The Courtyard and Bar Plaza Athenee
25 avenue Montaigne, 8th (Metro Alma-Marceau)
T: 01 53 67 65 00
Toodle-Pip. Bon Appetit.
Born in Britain and now based in Paris, Margaret Kemp graduated from The Cordon Bleu and spent a year working and watching in the kitchens of top chefs from Sydney, Australia via Bangkok, Hong Kong, California, New York and France. Realising she would never win the coveted 3-Michelin stars, she decided to write about the people who do, the "disciples of Escoffier."