BUZZ: Le Banke, Kayser, Prunier & Table d’Exception at Fete de la...

BUZZ: Le Banke, Kayser, Prunier & Table d’Exception at Fete de la Gastronomie

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Josefin at Le Banke. Photo: M. Kemp

Le Banke Hotel, Paris 9th

Hôtel Le Banke launched in 2009, a magnificent “Eiffel style” Belle Epoque building that formerly housed the CCF bank. The exciting and eclectic interior design, avant-garde and antique, by architects Paul Fresse and Cassien Bernard is worth the detour. A mix of styles, colours and lots of space will really turn you on. Force yourself out of Galeries Lafayette and swing by Lola, the circular bling bar serving cocktails and tapas, then discover Josefin, the Mediterranean-style brasserie with dishes created by chef George Pierre (ex-Robuchon, Maison Blanche).

On the menu, starters include Carpaccio de homard + algues. Raviolis de cabillaud farcis de gambas de palamos + vinaigrette de tomate basilic. Oeuf cassé + jambon bellota + huile de truffe blanche. There are Iberian influences in the dishes, so choose a Spanish wine Finca la Estacada 2009 (30€) or the robust red Miranda, Crianza, Rioja, 2005 (35€).

Noix de Saint-Jacques + citron vert + pak choy + émulsion au lime at Josefin, Le Banke. Photo: M. Kemp. Photo: M. Kemp

For mains: Riz crémeux aux cèpes + huile de truffe blanche. Noix de Saint-Jacques + citron vert + pak choy + émulsion au lime (see photo) or Onglet de boeuf Wagyu aux échalotes, poêlée de légumes faҫon ratatouille gratinée. The patissier was head-hunted from the Ritz, so save space for desserts: Millefeuille tradition + glace vanille. Crème Catalane + tuile Canelle + biscuit à l’Orange; La Pêche faҫon Melba, served in a tall glass and Tartelette aux fraises. The contemporary space buzzes with a hip young crowd and couples who don’t seem in a hurry to leave.

The Banke project is by Jordi Clos, director of Derby Hotels Collection, with exciting addresses in Barcelona, Madrid, London, and now Paris. 94 rooms and suites, with spectacular bathrooms, views over the Sacré-Coeur. Eclectic art everywhere, Jordi Clos is a big collector and expert Egyptologist. What a great place to hang your sombrero. With the world economy in crisis the banque did well to transform itself into a fantasy hotel—check in and forget everything.

Le Banke Hotel featuring Bar Lola & Restaurant Josefin

Tél: 01 5533 2222

20, rue Lafayette, Paris 9th

Métro: Chausée d’Antin

Lunch: Banke Express 29€ + A La Carte

Dinner: about 55€ + wine

Open 7/7

Valet parking

Eric Kayser. Photo: M. KempEric Kayser, Paris 13th

Eric Kayser is a baker of biblical proportions: he feeds the world with his beautiful baguettes at 60 Eric Kayser boutiques, from the Arab Emirates via Senegal, Greece, Lebanon, Morocco, Russia, Taiwan, Ukraine, and NYC in 2012.

Son, great-grandson and grandson of bakers, Kayser’s got yeast running through his veins. “I’ve been baking since I was four,” he admitted one day last week in the bakery of his eponymous Port de Tolbiac boutique/restaurant, opposite the Seine.

“The secret’s in the Fermentolevain machine,” he says pointing to a massive tublike object. “I opened the first bakery on rue Monge, Friday 13th April, 1996,” he said with a grin. “I’ve created many new recipes but always respect the traditions of my trade learned during five years’ apprenticeship with Les Compagnons de France,” he explained.

“For the French a day without bread is not possible, it’s part of our ‘patrimoine,’ and as such has place of honor at the table. It’s not difficult, good bread is a bit of flour, water, salt, levain, and oodles of love,” he added, hauling piping-hot baguettes from the four.

If you’re not already a fan, find a Kayser, but make sure you’re hungry: there’s so much to enjoy—not only bread but quiches, tartes, sandwiches, tuiles, cookies, madeleines, financiers, and sablés, to eat in or take-away. In each bite taste the passion Kayser has for his profession, an artisan with a new idea every time he blinks those twinkling eyes.

Maison Kayser

77, Quai Panhard et Levassor, Paris 13th

Métro: Bibliothèque François Mitterrand

Shut Sunday

(find other Paris, France & international locations at site)


A Life in the Day of BUZZ: Fête de la Gastronomie

You think you’re the only one who never stops thinking about food? Well, you should be French! They never, ever for one nanosecond forget they are the leaders of the pack where gastronomy is concerned, confirmed by UNESCO. Bless ’em they’ll go to the opening of a tin of sardines (millésimées bien sûr, “the foie gras of the mer, chérie”), the laying of a table!

Hôtel Plaza Athénée, Une Table d'Exception. Photo: M. Kemp

Last week, during the celebrations for Fête de la Gastronomie which tookin 4,441 mouthwatering events throughout France, gastronomically heralding the first, mellow, day of autumn, Hôtel Plaza Athénée showcased Une Table d’Exception. In my book this comes under the sardine/envelope-opening heading. It was, however, quite magnificent, the courtyard of the Plaza, in the early evening, the light, magic.

The Table d’Exception, honoured by Fréderic Lefebvre, Secrétaire d’Etat chargé du Tourisme auprès du Ministère de l’Economie et des Finances, was set with handsome eating irons by Christofle, covetable Baccarat crystal, candles by Ciergerie des Prémontrés , and pretty porcelain by JL Coquet. We were rewarded with  champagne and pastry by Lenôtre and Christophe Michalak, Plaza’s Duke of Desserts. Table linen was by Tissage Moutet, wacky chairs from Henryot & Cie and chocolate by Puyricard. The Table d’Exception will spend next week on display at Bercy in the Hôtel des Ministres.

“From casse-croute to restaurants etoilés we must remember that the art of gastronomy is to make the ephemeral, unforgetable,” said the delightful Monsieur Lefebvre, declaring the table, Patrimoine Vivant, open.

Hôtel Plaza Athénée Paris

25, avenue Montaigne, Paris 8th

Métro: Alma-Marceau

Caviar by Prunier. Photo: M. KempMaison Prunier, Paris 8th & 16th

Maison Prunier celebrates 20 years of producing caviar in France, l’esturgeon Acipenser baeri, from the Gironde Estuary, with a splendid caviar-based menu. Crème de champignons au caviar; Carpaccio de bar à l’huile de noix et caviar; Papillote d’esturgeon au foie gras et caviar. Figues de Solliès rôties, jus de framboises, glace d’amande douce. The menu’s by Prunier Victor Hugo’s chefs Renata Dominik and Eric Coisel.

“After 20 years of research and innovation we have caviar of a remarkable quality produced in France,” agree the chefs.

Bring it on, guys.


Menu “Vingt ans Prunier Manufacture” 150€ + wine, until December.

Maison Prunier

Tél: 1 4417 3585

16, avenue Victor Hugo, Paris 16th

Café Prunier (and Boutique Prunier)

Tél: 01 4742 9891

15, Place de la Madeleine, Paris 8th

Métro: Madeleine

This story is a 2011 Readers’ Favorite.

Margaret Kemp is a Cordon Bleu graduate who spent a year traveling the world, working and watching in the kitchens of top chefs from Sydney, Australia via Bangkok, Hong Kong, California, New York and France. Her Sunday columns for BonjourParis premium members include the latest European trends, interviews with internationally acclaimed top chefs, and reviews of restaurants, hotels and hot spots. Please click on her name to see her weekly stories dating back to 2003 . . . et merci, Margaret.

Merci, les abonnés premiumnous vous apprécions.

BonjourParis has been a leading France travel and French lifestyle site since 1995.


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Born in Hampton, Middlesex, UK, Margaret Kemp is a lifestyle journalist, based between London, Paris and the world. Intensive cookery courses at The Cordon Bleu, London, a wedding gift from a very astute ex-husband, gave her the base that would take her travelling (leaving the astute one behind) in search of rare food and wine experiences, such as the vineyards of Thailand, 'gator hunting in South Florida, learning to make eye-watering spicy food in Kerala;pasta making in a tiny Tuscany trattoria. She has contributed to The Guardian, The Financial Times Weekend and FT. How To Spend, The Spectator, Condé Nast Traveller, Food & Travel, and Luxos Magazine. She also advises as consultant to luxury hotels and restaurants. Over the years, Kemp has amassed a faithful following on BonjourParis. If she were a dish she'd be Alain Passard's Millefeuille “Caprice d'Enfant”, as a painting: Manet’s Dejeuner sur l’herbe !