The Rentrée Buzz: Tapas

By Margaret Kemp

Tapas is achingly chic at the moment, haven’t you noticed how Spain is having its’ 15 minutes? "Yeah!" you sigh, "we know that, we always go to Casa Tina (18 rue Lauriston, 16th T:01 40 67 19 24) or Alberto Herraiz’s Fogon Saint-Julien (10 rue Saint-Julien-le-Pauvre 5th T: 01 43 54 31 33)."

C’est clair dear, it’s all riding on the back of JR (who adores Spain) and his tapas-style runaway success story, L’Atelier de Joel  Robuchon. Frankly, I don’t know why he didn’t call it Casa Joel! If you only eat one meal in Paris, head straight there, but don’t bother to call, they don't take reservations! The concept will be copied – but if you want Zara, not Dior, it’s up to you (5 rue Montalembert 7th T:01 42 22 56 56). Be prepared to queue, but guarantee you’ll make NBF’s (new best friends). Or try Le Montalembert for good red onion tart. (3 rue Montalembert, T:01 45 49 68 03) 


Not far away, the lovely Hélene Darroze is serving her version of chic tapas in the newly decorated Salon d’Hélene: ceviche de saumon, jellied oysters, timbale de ris de veau. (4 rue d’Assas 6th T:01 42 22 00 11) and at Café Lenotre, the just opened belle-epoque style complex, on the Champs-Elysées, order a dish of tapas and, if the weather’s warm, grab a table on the terrace. (10 avenue des Champs Elysées, 8th T: 01 42 65 85 10)


Alain Dutournier’s a lovely man, a talented chef (2 Michelin stars) and his South-Western cuisine (lots of Spanish/Gascon influences here) rarely disappoints. The new décor at Le Carré des Feuillants is worth a look, and Dutournier’s lunch menu excellent value at 58€. (14 rue Castiglione, 1st. T: 01 42 86 82 82). Now Dutournier and Thierry de la Brosse (owner of L’Ami Louis) have created Pinxo in the newly renovated Plaza Paris Vendome Hotel. (4 rue Mont Thabor, 1st. T: 01 40 20 20 00) 


And talking lunch, if you want to try Yannick Alléno’s cooking book for the 55€ lunch (Hotel Meurice, 228 rue de Rivoli, 1st. T: 01 44 58 10 55). Meanwhile Alleno’s replacement at Le Scribe is Jean-François Rouquette (1 rue Scribe, 9th T: 01 44 71 24 19). And Thierry Burlot is taking over the new kitchens at what will be the hottest opening of the year, the Hôtel Particulier Baccarat, place des Etats-Unis. More of this in our next issue, but we do know that the transformation is by Philippe Starck! More musical chairs at Les Elysées du Vernet (25 rue Vernet, 8th T:01 44 31 98 98) where Eric Briffard (ex-Plaza Athénee) is getting excellent reviews.


You love Le Violon d’Ingres but if you can’t get a table at Constant Central, try the new Café Constant. It’s just as packed, but note that’s there’s no booking in this sympa petit bistro du coin. Take pot luck (salade Nicoise, oeufs mimosa, saumon froid macedoine, marinated sardines, and the classic Paris-Brest) every weekday from breakfast ‘til around 10pm. (139 rue Saint Dominique, 7th T: 01 47 53 73 34) 
The new hot bistro is L’Entredgeu (38 rue Laugier, 17th T: 01 40 54 97 24) and don’t tell too many people about De La Garde where young Yohann Marracini (formerly of Passard) is single-handedly cooking the best food in the 15th (83 av. Segur, T: 01 40 65 99 10) Quality price (29€ + wine) it’s the tops.

Gérard Depardieu and Carole Bouquet have revised and corrected the beautiful old Fontaine Gaillon (1 place Gaillon, 2nd T: 01 42 65 87 04). The new chef Laurent Audiot, is ex-Marius and Jeanette, and is working together with Gege, while Bouquet is signing the wine-list. And talking of works of art (I mean Ms Bouquet), the Musée Dapper (35 rue Paul Valery 16th T: 01 45 00 01 50) is under the direction of Christiane Falgayrettes-Leveau and Iris Hahner, who tell me that their new exhibition Parures de Tete (through 11 July 2004) sponsored by L’Oreal is a fascinating insight into “L’Art d’arranger la chevelure.” (That’s everything to do with Coiffure Africain, darling.) There’s a fabulous friendly club-like atmosphere at the Dapper, interesting pieces to buy and see and, Café Dapper, a perfect meeting place for excellent light lunches and teas (open 12-18hrs) www.dapper.com.fr  
At the Food Galerie (58 rue Charlot 3rd. T: 01 42 72 68 97) there’s not only ze books, but also delicious photo exhibitions, book signings (French & English) conferences and tastings. The ladies who lunch will adore OLIOPANEVINO (only for lunch and dinner Friday; 44 rue Coquilliere 1st T:01 42 33 21 15) while the guys can schlep off to see CHRISTIAN VALETTE at DEVéZ for a piece of perfectly grilled beef from the Aubrac. (5 place de l’Alma 8th. T: 01 53 67 97 53).

The Pont-Neuf building has had a major facelift and now houses a new complex of hip boutiques and restaurants, so choose from Laurent Taieb’s (he who created Bon, Lo Sushi and Bon 2) Kong--for Franco-Japanese cuisine prepared by Fumiko Kono and Richard Pommies, music by the belle Beatrice Ardisson and décor by the ubiquitous Monsieur Starck. Or Lo Sushi 2 with décor by Andrée Putman. If you’re going to the Palais de Tokyo, don’t forget you can eat there. www.palaisdetokyo.com

Albert Corre (ex-Senderens, Robuchon, Cagna, Fenix) is packing them in at his “chic pas cher” Le Petit Pergolese, (40 rue Pergolèse, 16th T: 01 45 00 21 40), an address to cherish. Not only for the magnificent contemporary artwork, but also for Albert’s fresh products, excellent wines and friendly service. If you want haute cuisine then he’s still next door at Le Pergolese, his original canteen and ohhhh, that dazzling Colgate smile…..Albie can cook my goose any day! 
See you next week.

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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".

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