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Ever since Alain Ducasse – the international multi-star superchef – created a dinner in honor of Princess Diana and former President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing in 1994, he was on a mission to tell the history of the Château de Versailles via the table – remember the King and his court would eat gargantuan gastromonic meals in public view.
So, after three years of costly renovations to the majestic multi-story Dufour wing, ORE (which means “mouth” in Latin) has debuted overlooking a magnificent courtyard. It is Ducasse’s riff on a chic upmarket gastronomic café by day (average spend 35€ + wine) and, by night, the space is privatised for “dîners d’exception” when guests dine like a King (from 500€).
Ducasse and his team (with Executive chef Stéphane Duchiron) delved into Versailles’ archives and, inspired by the past but of today, created dishes such as hot and cold starters amuse bouche snail croquettes, foie gras cromesquis, beignets of frogs legs, sole with shrimp, turbot au champagne and quail pâte en croute – followed by regional cheeses and a multitude of incredible desserts, Les Délices de Marie-Antoinette, including seasonal soufflés and of course the baba au rhum found at Ducasse’s restaurants in Monaco, the Plaza Athénée, and now ORE!
There’s authentic Croque Monsieur de jambon de Paris et Comté (14€) or roast chicken sandwiches with courgette, aubergine and basil – paired with a glass of Cider SASSY (7€) or a bottle of Champagne BRUT Alain Ducasse (72€) – at any time of day. Royal!
Château de Versailles, Pavillon Dufour, Place d’Armes, 78000, Versailles. Tel: 01 30 84 12 97
Jaïs is in the kitchen; Yanice takes care of the salle. The charming and talented Mimoun brothers (sons of Moroccan restaurant owners) recently opened their bistro chic – just off the Quai d’Orsay – with a zinc bar, serving modern French cuisine.
Book ahead, as it’s very popular– “some people come every day,” whispers Yanice, discreetly nodding his head to the right. The blackboard lunch suggestions change daily (3-courses 27€). A la carte suggestions include: Palourdes (clams) japonaises marinière style with piment d’espelette and petits croutons (14€); truffled macaroni stuffed with artichokes (22€); excellent entrecôte aged Simmental ribeye (400g) with frîtes maison (€37). Wines by the glass are 8€ and there’s an eclectic wine list including the interesting Serbian white Francuska Vinaja-Poema-2009 (33€). Save room for cheese from Philippe Bornard (14€) and Thierry Breton’s bread to finish, followed by roasted figs/vanilla ice cream (10€), lemon meringue pie (9€) and excellent coffee and warm sablé biscuits.
3, rue Surcouf, 7th. Tel: 01 45 51 98 16. Metro: La Tour Maubourg. Closed Saturday lunch – Sunday & Monday night. Terrace available.
Le George, Four Seasons George V,
There’s a continuous buzz at the Hotel George V! Last week Le Cinq’s Executive Chef Christian Lesquer (3-Michelin stars) was dubbed “Chef of the Year” by the prestigious Chef magazine. And David Bizet is winning excellent reviews at L’Orangerie.
On the opposite side of the orchid-strewn courtyard, chef Simone Zanoni (formerly at Gordon Ramsay, Le Trianon Palace, Versailles) has joined Le George as Executive chef. Located in the hotel’s former Orangerie ballroom – with decor by Pierre Yves Rochon – check out the magnificent Lalique pieces – and flowers by Artistic Director Jeff Leatham. The highlight’s the stunning vaulted ceiling in harmony with contemporary art and large windows overlooking the magnificent Marble Courtyard – book here weather permitting.
The cuisine, for sharing, is based on the Mediterranean diet; read, healthy and bursting with flavour and freshness (lunch 65€ – Flavours Menu 110€ + A La Carte).
31 Avenue George V, 8th, metro: George V (Line 2). Tel: 01 49 52 72 09. Open lunch and dinner, every day of the week.
Bistro de la Galette, Gilles Marchal’s (ex- Plaza Athénée, Le Bristol and Maison du Chocolat)) authentic neo-bistro on rue Lepic, Montmartre, features savory and sweet galettes (reminding me of Cornish pasties). Read: pies made with flaky pastry, stamped with a signature windmill in homage to the nearby “Moulin de la Galette” which was, in the 19th century, one of more than 15 working windmills on the summit of Montmartre!
Choose from, say, Chicken (14€), Confit of Lamb (16€) Fish of the Day (17€) fresh Anchovy ((14€) or vegetarian (14€) with mesclun salad. Galettes are made to order with organic flour from the Moulin Artisanal Gilles Matignon and there’s a herb garden outside the kitchen door. Add eggs – sunnny side up – with galette, tomatoes and roquette salad (12€) or scrambled eggs, Pompadour potatoes, fresh herbs/ galette (13€) as well as soup of the day, seasonal starters and Marchal’s mouthwatering desserts. The wine card includes artisan beers and ciders. Great value lunch formula at 20€.
102 ter, rue Lepic, 18th. Tel: 01 46 06 19 65 Metro: Abbesses (Line 12). Open Tuesday-Sunday from 11am-10pm.
Chef Franck Baranger and his associate Edouard Bobin – you know them from their delicious Caillebotte and Pantruche addresses – called upon Emilie Bonaventure to create a contemporary nautical theme for the interior of “Belle Maison” their new bistro – formerly La Maison Mère – dedicated to fish and seafood – in SOPI.
The 120m2 restaurant – on two floors – seats 65. Baranger and Bobin rock a relaxed vibe; the ground floor features a natural wood bar where guests can eat without reservations and, carnivores rest assured, there will always be at least one meat dish on the menu! Lunch formula from 20€ A La Carte 25-49€ + wine.
4 rue de Navarin, 9th. Metro: Pigalle (Line 2). Tel: 01 42 81 11 00 Closed Saturday-Sunday.
Bruno Doucet’s Sunday Brunch at La Régalade Saint-Honoré is revised and corrected – Bruno’s way. (35€).
Begin with baskets of crudités, fresh avocado with crab meat, tomatoes and crispy salad, fresh warm bread from Gosselin – the bakery across the street. Follow with meats and fish of the day (roasted Noirmoutier potatoes) from the rôtisserie and a buffet table laden with terrine de campagne, cheese, vegetables and seasonal bounty. “I want this brunch to be fun for the whole family,” says Doucet.
For dessert, cherry clafoutis, rhubarb and strawberry crumble and the signature, “grandma’s caramel and vanilla rice pudding.”
Sunday from 12.30 pm. 106 rue Saint Honoré, 1st. Metro: Louvre Rivoli. Tel: 01 42 21 92 40
Lead photo credit : Bistrot de la Galette