Philippe Excoffier, Spa-Out at Le Meurice, Compagnie Francaise De L’Orient et De...

Philippe Excoffier, Spa-Out at Le Meurice, Compagnie Francaise De L’Orient et De La Chine BUZZ

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Philippe Excoffier was Executive Chef at the American Embassy for thirteen years, where he served three Ambassadors. His backstory takes in Lucas Carton, with Alain Senderens, with Jack Lang as Chef de Cuisine Ministère and private dinners for the late Yves Saint Laurent, he also did time at Pic, with the brothers Jacques and Alain, and Guy Martin at Chateau Divonne.

“We took time to find this address and completely gutted what was once the Auberge de Champs de Mars. At first we kept the name. but people kept calling for reservations for the night thinking it was a real auberge!” Excoffier’s name is now over the door and he’s proud and happy.

There are two main focal points to the salle, beginning with a dramatic “Victorian style” black bar, red banquettes, photos of dishes and vegetables punctuate the walls. The kitchen’s visible through a glass porthole where Excoffier’s at the helm and Thomas Graham the young American from LA, is honing a craft he adores.

Simple, seasonal food is the mission statement explained by Michèle Excoffier and Maitre D’ Denis Payen recently back from Canada, so no trouble translating the menu, on the blackboard in English!

Choose from 6 starters, which change according to the market but could include Ceviché of Daurade with avocado: Goat’s cheese ravioli, dried tomatoes and pesto or Sautéd Duck Liver, the richness cut with apples and cider. From the wine card choose a white Loire Saumur, Domaine des Guyons (25€).

Mains include roasted stuffed quail, sautéd cabbage and grape sauce. Veal sweetbreads, vegetables and port sauce. A chunky tranche of sea-bass sits on borloti beans, is spiked with sweet tomatoes. Steak tartare, frits? Yes please. Red Corbières Vielles Vignes BIO (26€).

And for dessert, go for salty caramel souffle. The texture’s incredible. “It’s all about the egg whites”, explains Excoffier.

There have been many visits from ex- embassy people, sometimes they take over the entire restaurant.  Thanksgiving, the Excoffiers plan a special Pumpkin soup, Turkey, Pecan Pie celebration dinner. Don’t call now, it’s already overbooked, “but I’m taking 4th July reservations”, he grins.

The Excoffiers live in Paris’ 16th arrondissment. Are regular customers at Lamartine, recently acquired by super-star artisan butcher Yves-Marie Le Bourdonnec. They like to eat local at, say, Brasserie Stella, “on the terrace in warm weather, for the herrings and warm potatoes in oil and confit de canard”.  Another favourite is La Cigale Recamier, “we tried Chartier last week and love La Poule Au Pot”, they say.

And what is it that’s so different from working at the Embassy? “I feel free to create my style of cuisine bourgeoise, a wonderful sensation that motivates me every day”, grins the chef. Auguste would be proud.

Philippe Excoffier,
18 rue de l’Exposition, 7th
M: Ecole Militaire,
T: 01 45 51 78 08
Shut Sunday & Monday,
Lunch Formula 25-29€
Midi- Express Lunch 15-22€
A la carte about 37€
Read: A la Table de l’Ambassadeur,
Editions Flammarion

At Le Hôtel Meurice the Valmont Spa is the chic destination for the ladies who do. They’re heading for the pretty new space before lunching at Le Dali or Yannick Alleno’s gastronomic marvel where dejeuner is a steal at 105€.

Valmont is that very exclusive Swiss brand and the treatment you want is the “Bulle Exceptionelle” to re-model and firm facial contours, so when Ashton comes to meet you for lunch, or le tea-time, you’ll be so absolutely glowing he’ll rush off to book one for himself.

He’ll see that the new spa décor is soft bronze, celadon green and beige with subtle touches of gold and Bissaza mosaic. Focal point is the ice fountain, the USP of Valmont anti-ageing treatments. He’ll also check out the the romantic landscaped terrace bathed in natural light for pre or post treatment chillax.

Three treatment rooms, a mani-pedi bar, sauna, two hammams and a fitness room to use alone, with Ashton, or hire a personal trainer, who’ll also whisk you around the Tuileries Gardens if you’re feeling energetic. And check out the Valmont boutique at 8, rue de Castiglione you don’t want to run out of the astonishing Collagen Regenerating Mask Treatment do you?

Spa Valmont pour Le Meurice,
A Dochester Collection Hotel,
Hôtel Le Meurice,
228 rue de Rivoli, 1st
M: Tuileries,
T: 01 44 58 10 10

Remember the big “Indochine” space on Haussmann that was once Compagnie Franҫaise de l’Orient et de la Chine? Created by the late Franҫois Dautresme, probably because he schlepped so much “Chinoiserie” back from his oriental travels that he thought, why not? As you do. Well, CFCO’s still standing, now it’s a handsome hip concept store, and they’ve shut the other branches, so everything’s based at Haussmann now.

With a budget of 1.5 million euros, on two levels and a sous-sol, architects Franҫois Schmidt and Sarah Lavoine have created a contemporary culturel centre, restaurant and boutique. This is a modern museum, without being a museum, an hommage to covetable Chinese/Japanese style design.

Spend time browsing, there’s so much you’ll want for the wish list. Then have breakfast, lunch or tea-time orchestrated by Korean chef Young Kyu Park. If they had rooms, you could stay for a few days.

Who knows, maybe that’s on the cards?

La Compagnie Franҫaise de l’Orient et de la Chine,
170 Boulevard Haussmann, 8th
M: Miromesnil,
T: 01 45 61 33 15

 

 

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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 !

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