Terrific Terraces

Terrific Terraces

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OK, so we know Piege stays at The Crillon, Yannick Alleno at The Meurice. In September Frederic Robert leaves Senderens for La Grande Cascade and crazy genius Michel Del Burgo takes over at L’Orangerie. Fine, we can all nip off to The Plaza Athenée where the delightful Christophe Moret is sublimely happy in his magnificent kitchens and Ducasse protégée Cédric Béchade has created a summer menu for the “you can have any colour you like as long as it’s red”, terrace, La Cour Jardin.

La Cour Jardin is located in the zen courtyard of The Plaza A., look up at the Royal and Eiffel suites, almost hidden by green ivy and red geraniums, imagine what they’re noshing there. Probably the same as you downstairs, maybe they’re even peeping at your Cocktail Rouge Plaza champagne flute with Caviar de Geranium (tapioca is the secret, it’s not real caviar dear, coloured with geranium essence). Cédric’s from the South, his dishes reflect the sun. His tomato-mozza starter, version 2006, is a tour de force, nothing to do with the local brasserie. A glass of 1992 Bandol rosé Domaine de Terrebrune and you’re in the midi, Paris birdsong replaces the cigales, and you have Joseph, Jimmy Choo and Prada opposite: better, n’est pas?  Eat a full lunch or just choose Béchade’s Tomate-Mozza and an epic dessert by talented Christophe Michalak, rhubarbe milk shake with confit of wild strawberries and warm brioche. Lemon pannacotta with red fruits, to match the décor.

There’s no doubt the food is exquisite here, you’re buying not only lunch but an enviable glimpse into lifestyles of the rich and famous (and it’s not even that expensive if you choose carefully). Lovely little freebie touches, Fontainebleau, signature fromage of the Ile de France sits on ice, served with warm fougasse. The different breads, butters, hors-d’oeuvres and the marshmallow lollipops to bring out the inner-child, plus those geranium champagne cocktails. Joseph, Jimmy here I come.

At Les Saveurs de Flora, Flora Mikula has a few tables outside her pink, purple, kitsch, butterfly decorated resto, on Avenue George V, right across from the hotel, so you see what’s going on without appearing to be nosy. Flora is the standard bearer for a group of feisty and talented women chefs, who have all been through the “sorry, no women in the kitchen, we don’t have any changing rooms for you dear” experience. And they’ve come out at the other end, talented and determined. “Men in the kitchen can be bears”, she admits. Hmm wonder who she means?

Flora’s lunches are not only for businessmen, but businesswomen as well, note the “ Menu Femmes Dirigeantes” at 45€, but a woman must pay the note. Hailing from Nimes, South of France, Flora’s fresh and breezy style is Paris meets the Med, remember her charming Les Olivades Provencal style bistro on the left-bank, before she moved up-town to the 8th.

Be guided by Raphael (Mr. Flora) as you enjoy a glass of Champagne Flora, elegantly poured from magnums, the wine list here is worth studying. At the moment taste tartare of salmon, served three ways: à la Provencale: Aux Huitres: Sesame ginger. Or, iced tomato soup with fennel, nem of chévre and grilled aubergines, tarte fine au thon and a confit of Niçois veg, or boldly go for the Tempura of frogs legs with basil, with a glass of Clos Val Bruyere 2003 from Cassis. Mains include an excellent roast daurade, gleaming with olive oil, barley risotto is cut with leeks and a touch of curry. Flora’s home baked bread could win prizes, the olive, more cake than bread, you’ll want to stuff into the Prada for later.  Always a dish of the day, which could be a ravioli of lobster and Saint Jacques laced with coco milk, or pigeon with semolina of cereals, cumin juice and sweet orange flavoured carrots. Cheeses are from Laurence Dubois and desserts are what every woman wants, but does not really need. So, diet ladies who lunch can choose La Fraise fraiche et la fraise “Tagada” au basil. Tomorrow we die people take Déclinaison Autour du Chocolat, to hell with the calories.

La Guirlande de Julie’s sunny terrace is on Place des Vosges, where Julie, daughter of la Marquise de Rambouillet, lived and didn’t love the young man who came a-courting, so he wrote her a book declaring his amour toujours and decorated the front cover with her portrait surrounded by a flower garland. To-day La Guirlande is owned by Claude Terrail (La Tour d’Argent) with Eric Jolibois (ex-Tour d’Argent, Taillevent) in the shiny new kitchens. There’s fresh décor, no expense spared, and a world wine list by the Tour d’Argent’s legendary British sommelier, David Ridgway. Expect to pay about 45/50€ + wine for an Assiette of petits délices, read tapas according to the chef’s whim. Asparagus, terrine of vegetables or Salade Julie d’Angenne. Follow with turbot à la plancha or an epic club sandwich “Confidential”. Tajine of duck with spices and confit of lemons and world cheeses to match the world wines ( try the Cabernet Sauvignon “Founders Estate” Beringer 2003 from California). Desserts include waffle with honey, chantilly or chocolate and raspberry tiramisu, beg for the violet ice cream. 

Address Book:
La Cour Jardin,
25 avenue Montaigne, 8th (Metro: Alma-Marceau)
T: 01 53 67 65 00
Open 7/7

Les Saveurs de Flora,
36 avenue George V, 8th (Metro:George V)
T: 01 40 70 10 49
Closed Sunday

La Guirlande de Julie,
25 Place des Vosges 3rd (Metro: Chemin Vert)
T: 01 48 87 94 07
Closed Monday

And also:
Why Not
123 Avenue Wagram (Ternes)
T: 01 42 27 61 50

La Gare,
19 Chausée de la Muette, 16th (Metro: Muette)
T: 01 42 15 15 31 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 !