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Most in the news, of course, is Alain Senderens publicly “giving up” his three stars at Lucas-Carton and reshaping, re-engineering, and redesigning his space into a hip, ultra-modern, elegant “brasserie” (his term). While the size of the staff to my eye still looks huge, the prices are 1/4th what they were and the product is down-sized as well – e.g. sardines rather than bass.
Then there’s the Thierry Burlot and the Table de Joel Robuchon phenomenon, wherein both places down-priced (if there is such a word) the cost of meals; Burlot by offering more choices on a 32 E prix fixe “menu” and the Table by introducing a 55 E “Club menu.” But swimming against the tide of providing only two non-inventive choices, for example breast of chicken and grilled salmon, they both offer lots of inventive dishes indistinguishable from those on the a la carte menu.
Another model is that offered by Dominique Bouchet at his eponymous resto and Cyril Lalanne at Cerisaie, where two talented chefs, the former having toiled thirteen years or so years at the Crillion and the latter a bit younger and with fewer years, if memory serves me, at La Bamboche under his belt. Bouchet had responsibility for serving meals to 120 covers a day – now it’s 40; and Lalanne went from 40 to 20. In both cases, they told me they would never go back to the hectic life before.
Yet another example is William Ledeuil, who started as part of the Savoy-group and made his reputation at Les Bookinistes, where the prices slowly escalated and the tourists came in droves. He took yet another route, buying (or co-buying) the next door space and making it into the hip, Asian-influenced and fusion-y Ze Kitchen Galerie. For a while you could see him and his staff literally tramping between the two places, but eventually he chose to move totally to Ze, where he seems supremely happy.
Finally, there are the places we loved in yesteryears that fell more or less into disuse – Aux Lyonnais, Benoit, + Chez les Anges (which may be the best price-quality place in Paris right now) – that have recently been resuscitated. Alain Ducasse has almost become the patron saint of lost (restaurant) causes, reviving the two former ones, with not totally unqualified success, whereas the latter was reborn, after years as Paul Minchelli, more successfully, under its original name, by the team at Au Bon Acceuil.
Moral: Reinvention is alive and well as a means of moving, changing, improving and one can do worse than watch and taste the results of the masters of this process.
9, place de la Madeleine, 8th (Metro : Madeleine)
T : 01 42 65 22 90
Open every day lunch and dinner
A la carte 80-100 €
8, rue Nicholas Charlet, 15th (Metro : Pasteur)
T: 01 42 19 08 59
Closed Saturday lunch and Sundays
Lunch formula is 26 € and 32 € for the menu-carte
Table de Joel Robuchon
16, ave Bugeaud, 16th (Metro : Victor Hugo)
T: 01 56 28 16 16
Open everyday lunch and dinner
Club (lunch) menu is 55 €, a la carte 100 €
11, rue Treilhard, 8th (Metro : St Augustin or Miromesnil)
T : 01 45 61 09 46
A la carte about 60 €
70, Bvd. Edgar-Quinet, 14th (Metro : Montparnasse-Bienvenue)
T : 01 43 20 98 98
A la carte 30-40 €
Chez les Anges
54, Bvd de La Tour-Maubourg, 7th (Metro : La Tour-Maubourg)
T : 01 47 05 89 86
Closed Saturday lunch and Sundays
Menu 35 E at lunch, A la carte about 45-50 €.
Au Bon Accueil
14, rue de Monttessuy, 7th (Metro : Ecole Militaire or RER : Alma)
T : 01 47 05 46 11
Closed Saturdays and Sunday
Menus 27 E at lunch, 27 E at dinner, a la carte 45-50 E.