Le Gaigne, Pierre Herme & Palace Elysee Buzz

Le Gaigne, Pierre Herme & Palace Elysee Buzz

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The most mouth-watering surprise so far this year is Le Gaigne, a postage-stamp bistro in the Marais. It’s the type of place you couldn’t make up, opposite a tabac and a seedy looking joint called Gerry’s Place, one way street you wouldn’t want to walk down alone at night. Chef/Owner of Le Gaigne is Mickael Gaignon, who trained with Gagnaire (it’s all the G’s to-day). “He knows I’m here, wish he’d come, I’ve heard he goes to Gerry’s!” sighs Gaignon. PG, if you’re out there ze boy’s got talentl.

The room is cute, it has a soul as if the owners really care, phallic paintings of veg, fresh pimentoes on the table, about 20 covers, nice linen. The simple space is negotiated by Ms G/Aurélie, a pretty former accountant, who lost 15 kilos since they opened in April. Poor thing probably doesn’t have time to eat. There’s just MG in the cuisine with a plongeur. If you get time Aurélie take the 5-dish Menu Degustation dear.

Start with L’Artichaut, chilled soup, coques, a drizzle of sunflower oil (see photo). Then Courgette sliced, browned in a pan, cherry tomatoes and fresh marinated sardines: Le Merlu (hake) cooked on the plate with juicy pois gourmand and brunoise of squid and piquillos – perfection. Le Lapin: stuffed with peppers confit, marjolaine and a side of cauliflower. La Peche: roasted with verveine, sits on a warm sable breton and frangipane.

Aurelie, you can have wines to match beginning with a coupe of champagne. A glass of AOC Bordeaux Blanc 2007, Chateau les Minauderies. A nice Rosé de Loire 2007, Chateau La Franchaie and finish with a Coteaux du Layon demi-sec 2007, La Roche Airault. And, if you order a bottle and fail to finish, then you can take it home. The menu changes more or less daily, and the produce is organic, as are most of the wines.

Voila, an amazing address to cut out and kee. The Gaignon’s will have to move on soon, he’s going to be the “revelation de l’annee” and you don’t want to miss out do you?

And then you can say you remember MG when he only had a pot to “wash his hands in”: you’ll know what I mean when you go to the smallest purple room in town.

Pierre Herme just opened his first right-bank boutique, “dedicated to my two passions, macarons and chocolate”, he explains. Coco (just along the rue) would have loved it. Architect Olivier Lempereur (ex-Andress Putman) wanted the boutique to look like a Pierre Herme chocolate box. It does: PH is working with Jean-Michel Duriez, Jean Patou’s Maitre Parfumeur, they’re adding vanilla, rose, jasmine to the new line of gastro-candles part of “Emerveille Creations 2008.

Macarons have seasons, explains Herme, offering BUZZ “rose”. But always in season will be the new Bon Bon Chocolate au Macaron. Think choco covered cube with mini-mac on top. The filling? Layers of chocolate mac and almond paste. Not bad Pierre: keep trying!

If you were wondering what happened to Herve Nepple (ex-Gagnaire) after he left Music Hall, he’s to be found at a bling-bling palace, called appropriately Palace Elysee. It’s a huge contemporary space, formerly Qin an Asiatic canteen. Nepple’s in fine form, excited with a new kitchen, a new menu.

Start with Sex on the Beach (cocktail 15€) but don’t arrive topless, they won’t like it. Or you could have an Orgasm (15€) or flute of Veuve Cliquot (12€). The menu’s a reflection of Nepple’s talent, light, bright, good products and a lot of thought, as in Tomates Marinees aux deux corianders, chevre, roquette. Mains are all tempting, but you’ll want to taste his Black Cod Flashe and caramelised with Teriyaki, Black Rice. Nepple makes no excuse, he’s copied Nobu’s signature dish because he likes it so much. And as you have to go to London to get it, better have it here dear.

Finish with an Avalanche. A divine taste of Yvan Le Pape’s epic desserts, Nepple and Le Pape were together at Music-Hall. Don’t be put off by the in your face decor, test Palace Elysee with the “for nothing” buffet lunch, it’s worth it. Then go back in the evening, you’ll be glad you did.

Nice touch at Le Saut du Loup, where the spectacular terrace buzzes with ze beautiful pipoles. A recent Saturday night, packed inside and out, dessert took for ever to come, when it did, warm apple tart and caramel ice-cream was excellent. “We’re not charging you for dessert, it took too long to come”. Genial n’est pas? www.lesautduloup.com

Address Book,

Le Gaigne,

12 rue Pecquay, 4th (Metro: Rambuteau/Hotel de Ville)


T: 01 44 59 86 72

Tasting Menu: 39€ with wine 54€

Lunch formulas from 16€-22€

Shut Monday.

Macarons & Chocolats, Pierre Herme,

4 rue Cambon, 1st. (Metro : Concorde)


Shut Sunday

Palace Elysee,

20 rue Quentin-Bauchart, 8th (Metro: George V)


T: 01 40 70 19 17

Lunch formula 20€ Buffet A La Carte about 45€

Open 7/7

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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 !