BUZZ: Citrus Etoile, Agape Substance & Emporio Armani Caffe

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BUZZ: Citrus Etoile, Agape Substance & Emporio Armani Caffe
Citrus Etoile, Paris 8th There’s a new toque in the kitchen of Citrus Etoile, Gilles and Elisabeth Epié’s orange and lemon contemporary bistro, just off the Champs-Elysées. Although they’re all too California cool to wear toques, you know what I mean. It’s Gilles’ son Renald, a real talent. At 29 he’s already spent seven years with Ducasse at Spoon, Paris; Louis XV, L’Andana, Tuscany, Italy; Il Cortile (when Ducasse was consultant) and he’s done time in the kitchens of the French Embassy, Quatar and Cape Town, South Africa. “The boy’s good,” says Gilles and pats him on the back. I hate people who say, “I remember you when you were that age.” But I can’t resist. I tell the boy how long I’ve been eating chez Gilles and how I missed him when he was in California cooking for the likes of Bill Clinton, Sharon Stone, Sean Connery, Slash, Hanks, Gere, Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta J. The boy nods, smiles, gives the boss a hug. Today Hollywood royalty comes to Paris and heads straight to Citrus. There are new dishes, fantastic art work to discover and they’ve decided to stay open for the summer. Try the Poulpe salad with Borlotti beans. “We cook the poulpe in tea, that’s the secret.” Warm lobster tail sits on a bed of spinach and onions, coconut milk with wasabi gives the tastebuds a workout. Beef cheeks with Taggiasche olives, truffle mousseline and baby vegetables. Saddle of rabbit, the classic thick calf’s liver, chanterelle mushrooms. Great washed down with Corbières Bio Le Languedoc-Roussillon Grand Guilhem (56€) or the red 2009 Les Sorcières Le Clos des Fées (45€). Talk to sommelier David Mouriau. Desserts: lime soufflé with Limoncello sorbet and citrus chips and chocolate soufflé Java Grand Cru, with vanilla ice cream and chantilly cream. Wow! The atmosphere’s California on the Champs, “Elisabeth Epié is our Marilyn,” says Gilles Pudlowski. I hate people who gastrobabble, but sometimes it does illustrate a point. I remember the first meal I had chez Epié at Miravel. It was in the company of Nicolas de Rabaudy, the revered Figaro critic (before FS), and after my first bite of Beignet de foie gras caramelisé au Porto I was hooked. The beautful restaurant on the quai beside the Seine won a Michelin star, quite right too. Now all Citrus has got are a few squiggles in the 2011 guide. Come on, Bibendum, you can do better than that. Rise up Michael Ellis, new head honcho, show some respect for a great chef. Citrus Etoile Tél: 01 42 89 15 51 6, rue Arsene Houssaye, Paris 8th Métro: Charles de Gaulle-Etoile Lunch menu 49€ or A La Carte about 75€ Tasting Menu 75€ Shut Sat-Sun Agapé Substance, Paris 6th Novelist Paulo Coelho, author of The Pilgrimage, among other spiritual tomes, defines agapé as “love that consumes,” the highest and purest form of love surpassing all other types of affection. Wonder if he’s thought of visiting because, if he can get a reservation, he’ll see that David Toutain (ex-Passard, Gagnaire, Ambroisie, Veyrat, New York, chez Corton) and Laurent Lapaire (ex-Arpège, etc.) create agapé at their new Left Bank address. You know L’Agapé launched 2008 and L’Agapé bis in 2010. The new Agapé Substance, located in the former Don Carlos Flamenco bar and restaurant, opened in June. The glass space reflects the zeitgeist of today, clean décor by Zen+dCo for the long and thin room, sit at the counter or book the VIP chef’s table opposite the open kitchen. Superb ventilation, you won’t come away needing to wash hair, give everything to the dry cleaners, how much do you hate that? This is more information than you need, but chairs and stools are re-editions of Mies van der Rohe and you can have a massage in the Japanese-style Toto loo, assuming you push the right button! Toutain creates dishes around fresh market products that arrive daily. Vegetables from Annie Bertin, Hugo Desnoyer‘s beef, Eric Kayser’s bread and Bernard Antony‘s cheeses. Dishes are riffed around wild herbs such as Berce from the Jura, brought to the table for you to sniff. Choose 3, 4 or 5 courses from a list of ingredients and Toutain and his team will interpret for you, so if you have allergies or don’t like, say, veal, there’s no problem. It’s made to measure for you. The dishes are contemporary compositions, some don’t get it; complain of mini-portions, you’ll appreciate it or not. It’s definitely art but depends if you prefer Donald Judd or Henri Matisse, Harrison Birtwistle or Beethoven. Wines, on iPad, are mostly natural or organic, say, Domaine Casabianca’s U Stiliccionu‘s robust Corse “Antica” (36€) or Les Milles Vignes from J. Guerin, Languedoc (55€). “We like to think we’re the new mercenaries of the bistronomie,” says Toutain. Agapé Substance Tél: 01 43 29 33 83 66, rue Mazarine, Paris 6th Métro: Odéon Shut Sunday-Monday Open all summer Lunch: 3 dishes 39€; 4 dishes 51€; Carte Blanche 65€ Dinner: Carte Blanche 99€ Tous au Restaurant, September 19-25, & Emporio Armani Caffé, Paris 6th I think “Tous au Restaurant” (promotion dates September 19-25, 2011) was Alain Ducasse‘s idea. It must have been so successful last year…
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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 It.com, 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 !