Yannick Alleno, Le Meurice & Bar à Huîtres Buzz

By Margaret Kemp

“It is said that every philosophy is the daughter of its century and in the same way, cookery tells the story of an era”, says super-chef Yannick Alleno. “Today I want my cooking to rediscover Parisian gastronomy's finest delicacies, entirely re-created and rethought for this century; my cooking is like my city and my city is Paris”, he explains.

The setting is exquisite. Restaurant Le Meurice, recently given a modern make-over by Philippe Starck is a mini-version of the glitzy Salon de la Paix, Château de Versailles. On tableware designed by chef Alleno, begin with Eel Tart Parisian Style, herb coulis and watercress from Serge Barberon “cressi-culteur” at Méréville. The tart has a smokey flavour, sits well with the pinot noir Gevrey Chambertin – Les Evocelles 2005 (25€ a glass, 150€ bottle). It's suggested by Estelle Touzet, the incredibly young and perky Chef Sommelier. Her passion for wine is complete; she heads a team of 5, taking care of 30,000 bottles with 1,100 references noted on the silver Starck-designed wine card. Touzet's monthly tastings, for which Alleno creates interesting mini-dishes, are eagerly awaited. Coming up soon: Germany, California and Le Languedoc, as well as an introduction to different grape varieties.

Continue with slow-cooked Braised Beef Mironton, cabbage stuffed with seasonal vegetables, beef consommé. The beef has been carefully aged by hip Paris butcher Yves-Marie le Bourdonnec, whose slogan is “love me tender”. The cheese, from Marie Quatrehomme, is a soft curd from Villetain Farm, sandwiched into lace wafers, flavoured with squid juice, and works well with Châteauneuf du Pape blanc 2008 Le Vieux Donjon (25€ glass, 170€ bottle), Bread is by Frédéric Lalos, “the best baguettes in Paris—we couldn't make better here”, confirms Alleno.

Dessert, created by Camille Lesecq, the award-winning pastry chef, is Poached Pear with Vanilla and “Miel Béton” Honey with a delicate side of rice pudding and Parisian butter ice cream. The lunch is a showcase for “Terroir Parisien”, the book Alleno worked on for two years with uber food-critic Jean-Claude Ribaud. “I am obsessed with the idea of reawakening old, forgotten Parisian recipes”, he admits.

Restaurant Le Meurice,

228 rue de Rivoli, 1st

Metro: Tuileries

T: 01 44 58 10 32

Lunch 78€ + wine or à La Carte

Russian New Year Dinner

13th January - 450€

 

Since July 1st, 2010, there's a transformation at the four Bar à Huîtres formerly owned by Jean-Pierre Chedel. They were OK but a little tired and needed a makeover—enter Garry Dorr. But the lad's only 26, still wet behind the ears, what the hell does he know about the business? Right? Wrong!

“Yes, I know what you mean but I've had good training”, he says. The guy's cool. “First of all, my father Willy is the creator of la formule tout compris à prix fixe, all-inclusive menus in 6 bistros that are the best value in town. Because he orders so much he can order in quantity and order the best at the best prices. Dad wouldn't have let me go into this had I not achieved great results such as graduating from L'Ecole Hôtelière, Lausanne and achieving the diploma Sciences-Po and Majeure Entrepreneur at HEC, Paris.. A real sweat I can tell you!” he laughs.

“I've spent six months with Alain Ducasse, under the brilliant Jean-Franҫois Piège, who taught me passion. Various holiday jobs saw me chez Drouant, under Louis Grondard and with Joel Robuchon. I've always loved the sea, my Bars à Huîtres are dedicated to Cap Ferret and the wonderful times I've spent there, fishing, learning about fish, and life in general”, he reflects.

Garry's not exactly alone on Planet Pisces, Willy's with him (he's ex-Taillevent), and add formidable agitator of the casseroles Jean-Jacques Jouteaux (ex-Les Semailles, St. Jean Cap Ferrat and 153 Grenelle). Jouteaux helped plan the menus, as he did at the Willy Dorr bistrots.

Depending on the weather, the season, and the catch, there are seven Grand Cru types of oysters listed, including David Hervé's delicious plump Royal Cabanons from Poitou-Charentes. Drink wines and champagnes by the glass from about 10€. Or try the white Chablis Vaudon 2009, J. Drouhin or red Clos Canarelli, Figari, Corsica (25€). Especially with the Grand Cru Corsican oysters “Diana Lake Park”. Outstanding.

The French have the right idea about eating seafood—maybe that's why they don't get fat? After a feast at BAH you'll feel light as a feather. Fish specialities include wild Turbot (still alive, alive oh in the kitchen) from Noirmoutier, to share. And Chausey Island Scallops in their shells. Sauces are served as a side, as are delicious wilted spinach, or you can have mashed potato with Isigny butter or Basmati Rice.

Cheese is Saint Marcellin from Mère Richard, with a dab of cherry jam. Classic desserts include a perfect Paris-Brest, Rum-Baba (too sweet) Darth Vader Chocolate Cake, etc.

Don't hesitate, the staff are charming and will even crack open your lobster with a smile. There's also a take-out service. Order ahead for an exceptional Moby Dick moment.

La Bar à Huîtres,

112 Boulevard de Montparnasse, 14

T: 01 43 20 71 01

Open 7/7

Lunch 24€ Mon-Saturday

Menu “Pirates of the Caribbean” if you're under 12: 15€

Menu Bar à Huîtres – 38€

Seafood Platters from 44-124€ + à La Carte

Average Spend – 47€ + wine

If you're coming to France (or for that matter anywhere) you can reserve your hotel here. To rent a car, Bonjour Paris recommends Auto Europe. And for peace of mind each and every time you travel, enroll for MedjetAssist evacuation services.

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