December Restaurant Buzz: Where to Eat in Paris

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December Restaurant Buzz: Where to Eat in Paris

“Paris is the most romantic city in the world.”

—Benjamin Patou, Creator of Moma Group, great-nephew of couturier Jean Patou 

December is a great eating month in Paris. Chefs source from their winter larder to make heart-warming fare in the city’s bistros. Not to mention the festive feasts and yule logs to adorn the Christmas table. What’s more, there are a number of new addresses and culinary offers. Here’s a taste.

Lafayette’s 

And talking of Benjamin Patou, he’s the power behind the renaissance of the imposing grand bourgeois mansion on rue d’Anjou, once home to French military officer Gilbert du Motier, otherwise known as Lafayette. 

It’s had a few iterations: formerly 1728, and then Ran, a contemporary neo-Japanese restaurant. Now, as Lafayette’s, it’s under the umbrella of Patou’s Moma Group. Here, the presence of chef Mory Sacko transforms the gorgeous space into a “how did you get the reservation?” addy. Lafayette’s is a clever and interesting cross between French bourgeois cuisine, flavors of Africa and Asia, and nods to the US of A in all its culinary forms. Some menu examples: Cajun salmon, amberjack crudo with jalapeno pepper, corn chowder, pâté en croute, foie gras, “fried chicken” and braised sea bass with “dog” sauce, without forgetting burgers and irresistible truffled “mac & cheese”.

“It’s food like you have at home, but within the splendor and history of this magnificent mansion,” says Sacko.

Of course, super Sacko (Top Chef, France 2020) retains Mosugo, his “comfort food” concept in the 14th where African tradition meets Japanese flavors. 

DETAILS

8, rue d’Anjou, 8th
Metro: Madeleine
Average spend €70-€80

Mory Sacko and Benjamin Patou at LAFAYETTE’S. Photo courtesy of Gilles Pudlowski

Christmas TeaTime chez Lucas Carton 

For the end-of-year celebrations, Lucas Carton, the iconic restaurant on Place de la Madeleine, presents teatime for pâtisserie aficionados. Pair a flute of champagne from Maison Vranken Pommery with chocolate and Christmas spice cookies, marble cake, ultra-gourmet hazelnut flan. The Delcorf apple combines celery and shiso, Corsican clementines in a variety of textures, add light chestnut mousse, a twist of Madagascar pepper. Wild! Without forgetting the famous citrus madeleines, to enjoy overlooking La Place Madeleine! Wow! All of this is accompanied by soothing Christmas herb teas/infusions, hot chocolate, or fruit juices. 

DETAILS

Christmas Tea-Time €50 per person – reservation only
From 3pm-6pm Wednesday & Saturday during December.
9 place de la Madeleine, 8th
Tel: +33 01 42 65 22 90

 

Les Fines Gueules 

A truffle’s throw from Place des Victoires and Rue de Rivoli on the corner of Rue Croix des Petits Champs, there’s a splendid, 17th-century classified building, designed by architect Jules Hardouin Mansart 

Begin at the wine bar, boldly designed with a sober and elegant decor. Note the Berkel 1947 charcuterie slicer, which sits behind the noble zinc counter, amid an impressive collection of Chartreuse bottles. The harmony achieved with raw materials, stones, bricks, woodwork, and metals envelops you during lunch or dinner. 

At the same time, Les Fines Gueules (The Gourmets) is a bistro serving everyday French cuisine, traditional and inventive. In a canaille spirit that tends towards bistronomy, the menu lists fresh, seasonal products showcasing French terroir. Nicolas Gaudin resumes his post as the chef, having cooked with Alain Passard and heading the kitchens of the now shuttered, and much missed, Paradis (rue de Paradis, 10th). 

We found Gaudin’s menu exciting. His cuisine offers interesting riffs and themes, say, beef cheek confit in red wine, accompanied with petit coco de Paimpol. The flavors of land and sea are in the spotlight here, as in veal carpaccio accompanied by a solitary oyster; not just any random oyster for Gaudin, they’re from Utah Beach, arriving direct from the oyster farmer. Inspired by Alain Passard, the chef says his love for vegetables has increased: “The product’s the star; dishes are seasonally evolving paintings.” 

For a starter, try the multicolored beet harlequin, perfectly seasoned with Madagascar spices. Ingredients come via small producers; the top suppliers in France meet and eat here where their products perfectly presented. On the menu you’ll find five starters, from frog legs to squid tartare. Seven mains plus a prime rib. In season, abalone make their appearance- the very rare molluscs are not often on Parisian tables. Here the sweet touch responds perfectly to the concept: chef’s desserts, based on seasonal fruits.

DETAILS

43 Rue Croix des Petits Champs, 1st
Metro: Palais Royal
Tel: +33 (0)1 42 61 35 41
From Monday-Friday Lunch & Dinner
Lunch from €23 – Dinner from €50 + wine

Arboré 

In a bucolic garden setting it’s a delight to relax and have lunch or dinner here (from Tuesday-Saturday). Chef Ashwin Marius le Prince’s early experience was at two major Parisian establishments (Hôtel Le Collectionneur and Brasserie La Lorraine) before he returned to his Indian roots by taking over the kitchens at the Hotel La Villa in Pondicherry in 2015. On his return to Paris, Ashwin decided to create his own “uncomplicated and technical” bistronomy, inspired by working at several Parisian addresses (52 Faubourg, Hébé, Café Compagnon). Since September 2022, he’s the executive chef at Arboré restaurant, where he cooks food that “reflects my experience and identity with a focus on French terroir, enhanced by my origins and travels.”

DETAILS

Royal Madeleine Hotel & Spa,
29, rue de l’Arcade, 8th
Metro: Saint Lazare
Tel: +33 (0)1 84 25 70 00

Chef Ashwin Marius Le Prince at Arboré

Bloom Garden

Olivier Streiff, the “flavor magician,” promises an exciting menu for his first New Year’s Eve at Bloom House Hotel & Spa, the chic new hotel in the 10th arrondissement, between Gare du Nord and Gare de L’Est. Dine and dance the night away, in a unique setting, with a DJ and saxophonist. There’s a fascinating original 5-course + dessert menu by Streiff (€195 includes wine). Delicious dishes include: winter vegetable tart/cabbage foie gras/samosa of shrimp with lime; blue lobster two ways, the claws in bed with ravioli, the tail smoked over beechwood, jus au mountain pine; plump scallops, cedar squash gnocchis, sauce panzu passionfruit; nut-crusted turbot, truffles melanosporum, drizzled with roast chicken jus; coffee-marinated venison, salsifis and juniper berry purée, jus of Penja peppercorns. Dessert is Pavlova with hints of curry! Pair the clementine flambée with a flute of Champagne Brut Castelnau.  

DETAILS

23 rue Château Landon, 10th
Metro: Louis Blanc
Tel: +33 (0)6 27 58 93 76 

La Liste – Paris 20th November, 2023. 

“The most beautiful gourmet event of the year. Great chefs came from all over the world,” says Gilles Pudlowski of the annual restaurant award ceremony. The rendez-vous was at No. 37 Quai d’Orsay, the elegant Ministry of Foreign Affairs, with super sponsors (Air France, Moet Hennessy, Rungis Marché International, Kaviari, Chateau d’Esclans). We’re delighted to note that Guy Savoy won, for the 7th consecutive year, the first place on top of the gourmet world, in the company of Eric Ripert from Le Bernardin in New York. (La Liste’s choice is regarded as a huge snub to the Michelin Guide, which notoriously downgraded the chef at the start of the year.) 

In Paris, the prestigious Award of Honor goes to Bernard Pacaud of L’Ambroisie. Pastry Chef of the Year is The Peninsula, Paris’s Anne Coruble. The Ethical & Sustainability Award goes to Chloé Charles chez Lago. New Arrival of the Year is The Ritz’s cheffe Eugénie Beziat at L’Espadon. Local Selection goes to Jean-Francois Piege, La Poule au Pot.

Thank you La Liste. Delicious selection. We adore La Liste! 

La Liste ceremony

Gilles Epié – News from our favorite Frenchie 

“French World Burger Champions in the USA” – incredible, but true. This happened recently in Atlanta, after a tough competition lasting several days with about 20 countries represented by top chefs. The French “team” was coached by Gilles Epié, the Parisian Frenchie, who created the now closed Citrus Etoile, supported by Grégory Cohen, with chefs from Clermont-Ferrand, Nîmes and Tours. Having gone through the roof in the first round, winning on the technical score, reaching the top in the final, the team used Texas beef, sourced at one of the USA’s best butchers. Under the bun, imposed at the end, an onion and popcorn crumble, plus ketchup made from raspberry and smoked oil, plus sauce made from spicy sweet and sour pineapple, a melted cheddar placed on two 90-gram pieces of meat and caramelized onions. Oh la la! Well done Frenchies! 

See you next year! 

Lead photo credit : courtesy of Arboré restaurant

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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 !