“The banquet’s in the first bite. That’s a Chinese rule”. –Michael Pollan
At his third Paris address, rue du Bac (formerly Gaya, which is now located at 6, rue Saint Simon), Pierre Gagnaire stays with an Italian theme– saying arrivederci to the state of the art décor and buongiorno to a classic cantina Italiano.
The astonishing change is the décor! The space, on two levels, has been redone by architect Richard Lafond. There are carrara marble tables, wood panelling, red and white floor tiles, and shelves filled with books by Italian authors. Photos/souvenirs of la famiglia stud the walls; the atmosphere’s warm, timeless, exciting as a weekend in Florence.
Heading the cucina is the brilliant Sicilian chef Ivan Ferrara – formerly at rue Balzac and *** Michelin L’Enoteca Pinchiorri. Director Gianluca Modafferi and sommelier Michele Lella, from Italy, worked with PG at the rue Balzac flagship.
“The philosophy is not to reinvent Italian cuisine – and its innumerable regional variations – but to pay tribute to it; we call it Little Italy here,” they explain.
Antipasti – to share, or not – include perfect cuts of Parma San’Ilario ham, mortadella, bresaola, ham, lardo di colonnata, cheeses (sweet Gorgonzola, 36 month Parmesan, pecorini, mozzarella di bufala Campana), Jerusalem artichokes, friture, bitter leaves with creamy Burrata, cuttlefish/squid, octopus, vitello tonnato.
Then, the best of the sea raw/cru (lobster, scallops seabass, bluefin tuna, salmon) in pretty compositions with sharp seasoning. Fruity little taggiashe olives, green olive oil drenches vegetables and salad. So healthy!
There’s swirls of pasta as in Bucatini cacio e pepe. Eric Clapton, if you’re reading this order Spaghetti a la Guitare! Topped with black truffles or seafood you’ll be “Sitting on Top of the World.”
Add risotto, the signature chef’s twists on Milanese veal, beef inspired by the Piedmont dish “brasato al Barolo” (red wine braised beef). And soothing tortellini in truffled chicken broth – mamma mia, so good!
Desserts are by PG and Julie Bellier – the only Frenchie on the team – tiramisu, torta caprese, baba au rhum and sugary spins such as “Burrata Campari” (Burrata stuffed ice cream, campari, creamy chestnut, lemon). Chocolate PierroTT and, no gluten Tarta Capri.
All matched with excellent Italian wines, say, Rosé sparkling Filanda Bortolomiol (€44), red Chianti Classico Castello di Ama (€56). By the glass from about €12. Average spend about €70.
44 rue du Bac, 7th, Metro: rue du Bac. Tel: +33 (0)1 43 20 00 40. Tiny outside terrace to watch St Germain walk by! Closed Sunday-Monday
Soothing traditional onion soup anyone? Head straight to La Poule au Pot where it’s been a tradition for centuries from the time when Les Halles was the “the belly of Paris”. And where JFP not only acquired a Michelin star for his recently rebooted bistro, but also recently notched No. 1 in Figaroscope’s “10 best soupe a l’oignon in Paris.” Not just in winter, “we had a huge demand for it last summer during the heatwave,” says JFP. (Price is €16.) Check out JFP on season 10 of French Top Chef (airs on M6 on Wednesday at 9 pm).
9 rue Vauvilliers, 1st. Metro: Les Halles. Tel: +33 (0)1 42 36 32 96
When my friend Patricia gave me the book “Frederic Simonin, La Cuisine d’Un Chef Engagé” as a gift, I decided it was time to return to the restaurant (now awarded a Michelin star) where I’d enjoyed the cuisine so much when, in 2010, the chef opened his elegant restaurant, near rue Poncelet market, just off avenue des Ternes.
MOF (Meilleur Ouvrier de France) Simonin sharpened his knives at Pavillon Ledoyen with Ghislaine Arabian, Le Meurice, Le Taillevent, Le George V (where he met his wife Priscilla) and by the side of the late Joël Robuchon when they launched the London outpost.
“Creativity, simplicity and generosity” is Simonin’s mission statement. Especially as Ambassador for Bleu-blanc-Coeur. “When animals are fed well, humans feel better.”
In his elegant black, white and gold space, Simonin’s market-driven seasonal menus are based on “classics revisited”: “le terroir” (the land) features Le Ris de Veau, braised and crunchy sweetbreads served with carrots of different textures, while “la mer” (the sea) is represented by sea urchins on wild fennel cream set in sea water jelly. And there’s a generous dish (for the table) of creamy potato purée in homage to Robuchon (supplement €12), plus bread by Lalos, Alléosse cheeses, and wicked spins on favorite desserts such as Le Gianduja, comprised of crunchy hazelnuts and chocolate ganache/Dacquoise biscuit / cocoa sorbet. Lunch – €44-55€ (wine pairings – add €25). Dinner A La Carte or Menus d’Inspiration €86-€99 + add €50-65 for wine pairings by super-somm Antoine.
25 rue Bayen, 17th. Metro: Ternes. Tel: +33 (0)1 45 74 74 74
In 2012, at the Michelin-starred Château Cordeillan-Bages, located in the vineyards of Pauillac, Adrien Brunet met Meilleur Ouvrier de France 2007 (MOF) Jean-Luc Rocha; the two men bonded subsequently working together for 5 years.
Now Adrien takes over from his Master at the prestigious neo-classical Saint James Paris, the city’s only château-hôtel, evolving the “excellence and rigor of chef Rocha.”
The man from Berry, a region located in the center of France, has a passion for French excellence and terroir. Flying the flag for sustainable and ethical fishing, respect for the seasonality of fruits and vegetables, a keen gardener, he uses aromatic herbs, flowers and berries from Saint-James’ kitchen garden. “The essence of a recipe is not to transform the product – but accompany it,” he declares.
Do taste the signature ode to Adrian’s native region, Roast fillet of turbot, salad and Berry “caviar” soup, French Baeri caviar”. As well as Hare à la Royale, Burgundy truffles, puffed up soufflé potatoes; fricassée of cep mushrooms, mushroom mousse, horseradish, creamy velouté broth, a touch of saké. Wonderful wines, from the superb cellars, by chef sommelier François le Boulanger. Dreamy desserts by Sophie Bonnefond (ex-Les Cocottes de Christian Constant, Arc de Triomphe).
Unless you’re a member, the restaurant is open for dinner only (average spend about €110 + wine) from Monday – Saturday. On Sunday there’s an excellent brunch (€90-€100) from 12 noon to 4 pm.
5 Place du Chancellor Adenauer, 16th. Metro: Porte Dauphine. Tel: +33 (0)1 44 05 81 88. Valet Parking. Garden terrace.
Designed by Richard Martinet, the fuchsia hotel and restaurant are always buzzing due to the passion of the staff, led by dynamic Director General Jérôme Montantème (ex- Le Vernet, Royal Monceau, Villa Florentine, Lyon and the hotels of the Tiara group in Théoule-sur-Mer). Directing the kitchens is Frederic Claudel– who you know from Les Ombres, Quai Branly.
“We aim to spoil our guests in every way possible,” grins Montantème. Even to the extent of taking them on early morning discovery runs in the city and being ever present to make sure guests have a memorable “Fauchon” experience– “exactly what Auguste Fauchon had in mind when he opened in 1886.”
11 place de la Madeleine, 8th. Metro: Madeleine. Tel: +33 (0)1 87 86 28 00. Open from 7am- midnight. Lunch formula €35-42. A La Carte €50-70 + wine.
Sipping a Val Montaigne champagne cocktail, La Maison Blanche welcomes you to Val Montaigne resort! Located on the summit of Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, the restaurant is partnering with champagne house Veuve Clicquot, Reims. The scenic terrace becomes Paris’s altitude “ski resort” during the month of February! Cocoon fireside with a vin chaud/cinnamon (€6) or flute of champagne (€18 brut, €22 rosé). There are wooden sledges and skis; admire special effects by Florence de Boissieu. Taste delicious tapas (€6-€14.50) by chef Fabrice Giraud. Monday – Friday from 6:30 pm – Saturday from 7 pm.
15 avenue Montaigne, 8th. Metro: Alma-Marceau. Tel: +33 (0)1 47 23 55 99
Begin with warming cocktails (€12), based on Finley Muscovado, Génépi Cambusier, or warm cider revisited by Fils de Pømme. Or, for those who prefer to keep a clear head to hit the Auteuil slopes, try the alcohol-free cocktails (€6.50), including one based on Finley Ginger Ale. Until 28th February, our favorite brasserie takes on an alpine ski theme. Soothing butternut velouté (€8.50) to warm up and it’s all schuss with a pizza Val d’Auteuil (€17), Taleggio, Mozza, Parmesan, white ham aux herbes, potatoes, onions. Or Comté cheese fondue (for 4 at €19 pp). Finish with a Mont Blanc style pannacotta or blueberry pie (€7.50).
78 rue d’Auteuil, 16th. Metro: Porte de Auteuil, Tel: +33 (0)1 40 71 11 90