Gourmet Buzz: Chiberta

Gourmet Buzz: Chiberta
Superchef Guy Savoy has been doing a bit of a Leonora Helmsley at his new canteen Chiberta. Well, not actually sleeping on the tables but: “I have sat at all of them to make sure they are perfect,” he explained one day last week. This is Savoy’s fifth restaurant, and he’s proud and excited, not only by the project, but also about the fact that his son, Frank Savoy, has joined the firm as front-of-house director. I was almost expecting to see “Savoy & Son” over the state-of-the-art portals!    Located at the top of the Champs Elysées, Chiberta boasts a rich history, chic and cher, since its opening in 1932. It was a pure Art-Deco style building, named in homage to the Golf de Chiberta, arguably one of the most beautiful courses in France, set in the heart of Basque country, a truffle’s throw from Biarritz. Alert readers will remember I mentioned it in a recent Buzz about one of Chiberta’s former superchefs, Philippe da Silva, presently at his own hotel/restaurant in the Var, Les Gorges de Pennafort.   Open since last September, Savoy’s concept is a restaurant between his 3-star Michelin eponymous space and the more relaxed Butte Chaillot, L’Atelier de Maitre Albert and Les Bouquinistes–addresses to note, where the quality and service is always top niveau, and the prices won’t break the bank. Whereas, attention my dears, the 3-star is… Well, it’s 3-star prices, what do you expect? With Savoy you pay your money, you makes your choice.   Once again, Savoy has worked with architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte (The Wall of Peace, the furniture on the Champs Elysées, the Viaduct des Arts, Savoy’s rue Troyon restaurant and L’Atelier de Maitre Albert). You coulda href="http://www.autoeurope.com/showspecial.cfm?aff=bonjourparis" mce_href="http://www.autoeurope.com/showspecial.cfm?aff=bonjourparis" target="_blank" rel=”nofollow”> eat at Chiberta twice a day; because of the lighting and the use of blinds, the aspect is totally different. Also you could do, say, the sexy black corian bar, perched on a high stool, for lunch and either the front room, with its black and white décor and Bertrand Lavier’s stunning black and white daubing for backdrop. Or, pass by the wine wall and opt for the red room, at the rear, punctuated with art work by Gérard Traquandi. Now it’s supposed to be at the bar where one smokes, so I do wish they’d had the guts to point this out to Winston Churchill (apparently he ate here in Chiberta’s former life) puffing like billy on a Cuban fire-stick. The suave and efficient co-director, Jean-Paul Montellier (ex-Guy Savoy, The Bristol) was embarrassed, offered to change the table, put on air-conditioning, but wimped out on telling Winston where to extinguish his cigar!   So who’s in the kitchen? Probably Savoy more than you think. He forms his chefs and then gives ‘em their heads to show their talent. And this they are doing; it’s superb. William Caussimon (ex-Bookinistes), Gilles Chesneau (ex- Guy Savoy) and Eric Coisel, a disciple of Senderens who was formerly cooking at…Chiberta!  The starter—Crème de langoustine et carottes “citronelle-gingembre” with a crunchy beignet d’herbes (25€)—is already considered a “classic de la maison”.   The ladies who do will love the healthy “tourteau granny-céleri” salade of beetroot and spicy crustacé oil . Mains include Noix de Coquilles Saint-Jacques with a tantalising tangle of citron confit (39€); Sesame caramelised Daurade Royale, buerre blanc ua curry; Saint-Pierre cooked on the bone; Côte de Boeuf Simmenthal, (for 2 it’s 70€); Jarret de Veau “confit-braisé” (30€); and Marmite de ris de veau with truffled legumes oubliés (38€). Mmmmmm.   Cheese from Alleosse—not a huge selection, just two seasonal delights, La Tomme de Laguiole & Saint-Marcellin, last week, served with a crunchy salad. Forget the Fondant chocolat au pralin feuilleté et chicorée, the portion is too small. Ditto la terrine de pamplemousse, sauce au thé, too healthy, perfect one for the LHL’s. Poire pochée au épices, ganache noisette et sorbet poire, perhaps. But, Le Baba “rhum-ananas” is stunning. Be greedy like Stanislas Leszcsynski, the Polish king exiled in France, who invented this wild and wonderful fantasy (when it’s made correctly, as it is chez Savoy by uber-patissier Hugues Pouget). Stan is said to have named it after his all-time fave hero Ali Baba.   This week’s Buzz heroes are Savoy & Son, and the enthusiastic team. “Cooking is the art of instantly and joyfully transforming products charged with history,” comments Savoy. We’ll drink to that, and note darling, not all the wines are off-the-charts expensive. Selected by Savoy and Montellier, displayed on the wine-walls, try a Viognier (G. Vernay) at 46€, a Chateau de Pibarnon 2000 55€, an excellent Maranges, Contat Grangé 38€. Or, if you’re driving, shopping or otherwise not in the mood, by the glass from 8€.   60€ menuMenu Degustation 100€ + A La Carte.Le Chiberta avec Guy Savoy,3 rue Arsène-Houssaye, 8th. Metro Charles de Gaulle, Etoile.T: 01 53 53 42 00Shut Saturday lunch & Sunday.   Head Office:18 rue Troyon (you only live once!),T: 01 43 80 40 61 L’Atelier Maitre Albert,1 rue Maitre Albert, 5thT: 01 56 81 30 01   La Butte Chaillot110bis Avenue Kléber, 16thT: 01 47 27 88 88Les Bouquinistes53 quai des Grands Augustins, 6thT: 01 43 25 45 94   And you should know:If you’re sick to death of lining up outside Pierre Hermé’s rue Bonaparte boutique, you can now join the line outside his atelier on rue de Vaugirard. “It’s the same recipes, only the décor is different (bon-bon tones by Christian Biecher). Hermé tells Buzz that he loves this place, a former famous patisserie that he used to visit when he was an apprentice…
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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 !