Buzz: The Lancaster

Buzz: The Lancaster
  I’ve always wondered if they named the elegant and handsome Hotel Lancaster after Burt. Remember him snogging Deborah Kerr on that beach, in From Here to Eternity? Oh, those bulging black bathing trunks still makes me go weak at the knees! I was thinking about The Burt (sorry, The Lancaster), happy at the news that they now let in the likes of you and me to the restaurant, called, La Table du Lancaster. Formerly only guests of the hotel could eat there (and probably Burt when he was in town), but he went to that Atlantic City in the sky in 1994, so it’s possible he never even knew of its existence. Anyway, this newly transformed Zen canteen, set up by Michel Troisgros, certainly has The Sweet Smell of Success: a beautiful space with a magnificent interior courtyard garden, fragrant with the perfume of Lancaster roses, for warm weather eating, or a glass of champagne before or after whatever. Troisgros. Name sounds familiar, where have I heard of him before? Well, you’ve probably heard rumours of a project in Paris for the last two years. A bit like Marc Veyrat, who threatens to invade the city, but until now we’ve been spared the black shepherd’s hat palely loitering. Troisgros is the Lancaster’s consultant; he’s created his concept, put together a remarkable team who interpret his dishes and his wishes. His base is still the legendary family restaurant, opposite the train station, Troisgros, Roanne (3 Michelin ***) created by his uncle Jean-Baptiste Troisgros with his father, Pierre, in the 1930’s. Today it’s Michel and his wife Marie-Pierre running the show. Think culinary royalty, darling. Let’s face it, it’s a serious schlep to Roanne, unless you happen to be a dedicated gastronomad, in the area, or want to take the train/helicopter. So how wonderful that Troisgros’s subtle, delicious cuisine is now available just off the Champs Elysées. “I’ve arranged the menu, by themes, around my favourite products, with lots of references to Japan (where papa Pierre launched Maxim’s in 1967) where I go at least twice a year,” explains Troisgros. He’s worked with all the greats, not only in the family establishment, but also with Alain Chapel, at Mionnay, Freddy Giradet, Michel Guerard, Taillevent and Comme Chez Soi. “Vivacious, seasonal, tangy products, a cuisine inspired by the love and the discoveries that travel brings,” is how he describes it. “The concept is to create what you want to eat,” explains restaurant director Nicolas Malzac. Suggested starters (about 9 to choose from) are marked with a single “—” symbol, but you can interchange whatever, wherever. There’s Witty, as in snails with tomato and curry sauce (15€); Zesty, as in marinated sea scallops with wakame (22€); or Piquant, as in fried frogs legs with Satay and wok-fried leeks, which looks like becoming the house signature dish (25€). Mains (about 12€) are marked with a “=” symbol, as in Sharp, fillets of whiting with a hazelnut and rosemary crust, served with Xeres shallots (24€); Green, as in veal kidneys with anchovy and basil sauce (25€); and Sour, as in chargrilled lamb cutlets marinated in lhassi (Indian yogurt, I think) (32€). Whipped goat cheese cannelloni gets a “—” rating, as does the divine Velouté of leek, potato and saffron mussels (12€). Lunch, when they get the special menu up and running, will cost around 40€ + wine. So what about the pudds then? Sweet (7 choices @ 13€), including the traditional Tarte au Sucre as served in Roanne. Raspberry and chocolate tower with verveine ice cream, exquisite freebie Japanese style tasters come all along the way. Or a great selection of cheese. La Table du Lancaster is definitely worth an Oscar nomination. If only Burt were here to see all this splendour. 7 rue de Berri, 8th (Metro: George V)T: 01 40 76 40 TroisgrosPlace Gare, 42300. RoanneT: 04 77 71 66 BUZZZZZ….. When Henry and Nancy Kissinger are in town they always go to Benoit (since 1912 serving the rich and famous). Anyway, it’s fun, there’s always a celeb or two to spot, and they love being spotted at Benoit. None of this cowering in the corner rubbish; it’s restaurant as theatre, wait till Madonna hits town. The food is excellent, brasserie-style with a light modern spin, and the staff are divine. One of the waiters collects watches, so Benoit obviously pays well! My friend, Suzanne, jets in from Geneva; she’s hooked on the poulet fermier en croute de sel, with a fricassee of mushrooms. Note: Benoit only takes American Express or cash (no ticket restaurant here; the waiter needs the cash for a new watch!) 20 rue Saint-Martin, 4th. (Metro: Chatelet) T: 01 42 72 25 76
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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 !