BUZZ: Oscar Wilde, L’Hotel, Ante Prima, The Club & Shang Palace

BUZZ: Oscar Wilde, L’Hotel, Ante Prima, The Club & Shang Palace

Chef Julien Montabut of L'Hotel. Photo: M. KempL’Hotel, Paris 6th

The new exhibition at Musée d’Orsay is “Beauté, morale et volupté dans l’Angleterre d’Oscar Wilde.Small wonder there are big lines waiting to see it: Wilde and his contemporaries still fascinate. After the expo, what better than to head straight for L’Hotel where he once lived beyond his means and died grouching about the awful curtains . . . or was it the wallpaper?

He’d have nothing to grouch about with the hotel today. The former Hôtel d’Alsace, as it was named in Oscar’s time, was acquired by Curious Hotels, who commissioned architect Jacques Garcia to make it look as if nothing has been done. It’s gorgeous. So romantic, lovers kissing all over the place . . . get a room, guys, there are 20 to choose from but do book ahead, and reader, check out the curtains, they’re nickel.

Aigle (sea bass) from Le Bar at L'Hotel. Photo: M. KempJulien Montbabut is now executive chef; he worked here before with Philippe Bélissent, whom you can now find at Cobéa. Montbabut has an impressive formation which takes in École Ferrandi, Fermette Marbeuf, Ledoyen, and Grand Cascade. His menu’s short and market driven. A freebie starter of beetroot mousse, lightly smoked eel sets the tone. Bruno Paillard Champagne rosé at €60 a bottle or €12.50 a glass. The sommelier‘s hip and switched on, looks a bit like a young Oscar W.—he’ll talk you through some great wines. Gianluca Faustini’s restaurant director; you’ll remember him from Emporio Armani Caffé and Table du Lancaster.

Montbabut has carte blanche to buy the finest products and says his pan-fried frog legs with pink garlic bouillon, green risotto of Fregola sarda sell out daily, as does grilled Patagonian beef, jus of thyme and smoked potatoes, to be mopped up with Eric Kayser‘s perfect baguette. Cheese is from Fromagerie Quatrehomme and desserts are themed around seasonal fruits. In the bar, Carlos Madriz is a dab-hand with the shaker, he’s got at least 16 signature cocktails, such a show-off!


Tél: 01 4441 9900

13, rue des Beaux Arts, Paris 6th

Métro: Saint-Germain-des-Prés

Le Restaurant (shut Sun-Mon)

Lunch: 12:30-2:30pm Tuesday-Saturday; €42-52 or A La Carte

Dinner: 7:30-10pm Tuesday-Saturday; A la Carte about €95 + wine

Sumptuous Buffet Breakfast: €16

Tasting menus: €95-160 wine pairings possible

Stay the night rooms & suites from €285-795€

Spa, hammam, private two-person pool in stone cave

Beauté, Morale et Volupté dans l’Angleterre d’Oscar Wilde”Poster, courtesy of The Orsay Museum

(“Beauty, pleasure and morality in the England of Oscar Wilde”)

Exhibition at Musée d’Orsay

Open now through January 15, 2012

1, rue de la Légion d’Honneur, Paris 7th

Métro: Solférino

RER: Line C, Musée d’Orsay

Hours: 9:30 am-6pm Tuesday through Sunday; 9:30am-9:45pm on Thursday. Last entry 30 minutes before close. Shut Monday.

Entry: €8 Adult; discounts available–see site

Exhibition moves to U.S. next:

“The Cult of Beauty: the Victorian Avant-Garde, 1860”

The exhibition is organized by the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, and the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco in collaboration with the Musée d’Orsay, Paris.

at the San Francisco Legion of Honor Museum

February 18, 2012 through June 17, 2012


Ante Prima, Paris 8th

Chez Ante Prima‘s Vanessa Izerzer is your “femme clef.” A hip Parisian who’s lived in NYC, Vanessa has made Ante Prima her home. It’s located in the complex that is a spectacular hôtel particulier owned by film director Luc Besson. Part of it houses his production company, so Ante Prima is buzzing with L.A.-type movie talk at lunch and hosts special invitation pre-film screening dinners at night. You can organise your own rave there and they’ll cater for you. You need to be a member for this, with a precious “golden ticket;” so, if Vanessa takes a shine to you, you’re so in.

Ante Prima restaurant. Photo: M. Kemp

Besson has his finger in many restaurant pies: Apicius and Market. Remember—no—who will ever forget that restaurant scene in La Femme Nikita? It was filmed at Le Train Bleu, Gare de Lyon. Phew! Besson knows how to eat, knows how to make movies. His new film is The Lady, a tear-jerking bio-pic of Aung San Suu Kyi (starring Michelle Yeo).

Lunch in the garden when it’s warm, or inside among Besson’s cine-memorabilia when the weather fades. From midday the chic crowds roll in. There’s no menu—it’s a buffet of delicious Italian food around which everyone gathers, making NBFs at the same time. Antipasti, pasta salads, risotto cèpes, fresh vegetables, cooked and raw. Carafes of red, white and rosé. A school bell rings when chef Khan has the pasta of the day ready. Last Tuesday it was spicy pasta alla puttanesca (literally “tart’s pasta”). And add cannelloni, ricotta and spinach, fettuccine aux girolles, farfalles tomates, langoustine.

“It’s different every day and we feed at least 250,” says the delightful Vanessa. Luc Besson eats here when he’s in town.

“It’s a great networking scene. I know all 9012 members and they let me know if they’re job-seeking or looking for someone for a part in a movie, etc.,” she says.

Dessert’s perfect tiramisu or panna cotta. The atmosphere buzzes with bobos and now there are 9013 members. Vanessa presented me with my card as I left. So do come and meet me in my new club. I’m no Groucho Marx.

Ante Prima

Tél: 01 4563 4343

137, rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, Paris 8th

Métro: Saint Philippe du Roule,

Average Spend €24 including wine

Open: Lunch only, Monday-Friday

Book your weddings, hen-parties, divorce parties, etc., at night.

The Club restaurant. Photo: M. KempThe Club, Paris 7th

Meanwhile, on the Left Bank, The Club just launched. Called thus because the house signature is club sandwiches made nine different ways: Classic; “King CrabePetrossian, sucrine, avocat; roast beef; foie gras maison roquette; vegetarian; etc. Cocktails, fresh “detox” juices (carrot & ginger, etc.) and cheesecake make this Philippe Model-designed shabby-chic space a delicious must-visit when you’re in the area. So, three cheers for Le Club where everything can be prepared to take home, so you can say, “of course I made it.”

The Club

Tél: 01 4550 3154

24, rue Surcouf, Paris 7th

Métro: École Militaire

Open: 8:00am-12:30am, Tuesday-Saturday; 8:00am-6pm Monday; closed Sunday

Shang Palace at Shangri-La Hotel, Paris. Photo courtesy of Shangri-La Hotel.Need to know: Shang Palace opens at Shangri-La Hotel

“Buddha jumping over the wall” and “Beggar’s chicken” plus lots of vegetarian dishes for the ladies who do, on the menu of the just-launched Shang Palace restaurant in the Shangri-La Hotel. It’s all very feng shui. In French, Shang Palace translates as “Perfumed Palace,” so book now to get a genuine whiff of Canton in the capital. Pudlo says it’s “chic, cher, choc.”

Shang Palace at Shangri-La Hotel

Tél: 01 5367 1992

Lunch: €70+ A La Carte; 12-2pm Thursday-Monday; closed Tuesday & Wednesday

Dinner €128+ A La Carte from about €95-160; 7-10:30pm Thursday-Monday; closed Tuesday & Wednesday

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. She reports for BonjourParis on the latest European trends, restaurants and hot spots.


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Left Bank 4-star luxury in the Saint-Germain-des-Prés district:

l’Hôtel is a one-of-a-kind 4-star hotel in chic Paris 6th, known forever as Oscar Wilde‘s final residence. Designer Jacques Garcia created the 20 lavish Baroque-style rooms, each unique in design. Every room has free Internet,AC, flat-screen TV, DVD player, toiletries, sitting area, walk-in closet & iPod dock. Hammam, steam room & 2-person private pool in a stone cave. Daily continental breakfast. Room service & on-site is Le Restaurant, a Michelin-starred restaurant & hip Le Bar. You may never leave your romantic suite, but you will lack for nothing at this elegant boutique hotel, which past guests have rated 8.5 of 10.

*** Eligible for the best price guarantee.

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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 !

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