Plaza Buzz

By Margaret Kemp In Japan fashionistas are going gaga over Chanel Ginza, not only for the stunning Peter Marino-designed building and to-die-for clothes and accessories, but also because of Beige, Tokyo, the Lost in Translation city’s hippest new restaurant.  Alert readers will remember that Alain Ducasse has created this “contemporary space dedicated to food,” and you should be able to get a reservation.  After all, it seats 2000! (Ducasse is about to take over the legendary Benoit, Paris, watch BUZZ for details).
 
There are far fewer tables at Ducasse’s Plaza Athénee, Paris, which seats only 50 members of the rich and famous club. You might be forgiven for thinking that as there is a waiting list (only open lunch Thursday and Friday, dinner Monday and Friday), Ducasse would have left the décor, stunningly created four years ago by architect-designer Patrick Jouin. Oh No! That’s not what keeping the Michelin stars or keeping Ducasse happy is about. That’s not how Forbes makes you one of their Hot 100. Jouin and Ducasse stripped the grey cylinders from the crystal chandeliers, decked them with Swarovski crystals that sparkle, sparkle, sparkle. Everything spells exciting, the immaculate George Feghaly designer-clad staff, the warm welcome from maitre d’hotel Denis Courtiade.
 
“The room has been refreshed,” admits Ducasse. “We wanted the finished effect to look as if the décor added its own extension overnight!”  A hard man to pin down, Ducasse is in the state-of-the-art cuisines of the Plaza alongside Christophe Moret.  Above the clatter of a thousand toques chopping, they’re sitting in a little glass aquarium discussing how it’s important to bring back “our grandmother’s dishes.”  Keep it simple, the two agree.  In his tome, Le Grande Livre de Cuisine, Ducasse points out that his “simple” dishes can be cooked at home or enjoyed at the Plaza. The Plaza’s simple roast Bresse chicken is embellished with sauce Albufera and Alba truffles. “Yes, but you can buy the chicken at a good butcher and follow my recipe for the sauce,” he smiles.  “It’s a classic, a golden oldie, takes its name from Marshall Suchet, the Duke of Albufera.”  Ducasse and Moret have also chosen to give Brittany lobster a place of honour on their new menu, together with perfect Saint Jacques served simply in the shell. Black truffles are piled high in a salad, the truffles presented to the See the REAL Europe with Rail Europe diner in a handsome walnut box.  
 
Is it worth it? Yes, to take time out to be Alice through the Looking Glass, to be thoroughly spoiled by the best in town. How much is it then? Are you sitting down? Menus run from 190€ to 300€, a la carte about 235€ plus wine and to taste Christophe Michalak’s patisserie (formerly of Ladureé, Pierre Hermé, and Fauchon). Michalak is not any old patissier, he’s Capitaine de L’Equipe de France.  His team just won La Coupe du Monde de la Patisserie, so he knows how to sculpt ice and chocolate dreams to perfection. He’s got the medal and the 9000€ to prove it!  “It’s not just me,” he says modestly, “we are a team”.  Oui chef!  If you just can’t bring yourself to pay that, take a trip round the corner from The Plaza and pop into Ducasse’s Spoon for a glass of excellent champagne or wine and order a bit ‘On the Side’ (dishes from 5.30€).  
 
Alain Ducasse at the Plaza Athénee,
25 avenue Montaigne, 8th (Metro: Franklin D Rossevelt)
T: 01 53 67 65 00
www.alain-ducasse.com
 
Spoon, 14 rue de Marignan 8th (Metro FDR)
T: 01 40 76 34 44
www.spoon.tm.fr
Ecole Ritz Escoffier,
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