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Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée Restaurant Review: ALAIN DUCASSE AU PLAZA ATHÉNÉE HAS REOPENED. CHECK BACK TO READ OUR REVIEW OF ITS NEW INCARNATION. At the beginning of this century, Alain Ducasse caused a sensation under the gilded ceilings of the Plaza Athénée. Although he was carefully and smartly sticking to the classics, Ducasse blew a breeze of youth into this venerable bastion of the international establishment with the way he turned the market's best ingredients into rare dishes that still reflected the great French tradition. For a new decade Ducasse wanted a new breakthrough: new décor, a new chef, and somewhat a new style, new but not too new. New décor: Chandeliers pour light like a celestial rain on the dining room, where four large embroidered screens stand out. Seated at the ivory linen-topped tables are modern chairs that have integrated storage for purses, keeping clutter from spoiling the room's elegant tableau. New chef: Normandy-born chef Christophe Saintagne executes from a rather small kitchen, in which they've managed to squeeze the chef's table, known as the Aquarium. New spirit: The presentation of the menu is Spartan, with just a couple words to describe a dish, such as "Duckling, turnips" or "Sole meuniére, cèpes." An invitation to just focus on the food and enjoy its true flavors. What counts is the real nature of the products and simplicity. That could be the message, unless it is a call to modesty. In gastronomy, indeed it takes talent to be simple, but no need to tell? Choose for example the "legumes et fruits" (vegetables and fruits): two words only to announce a combination of beet, pear, carrot, celery and quince cooked to distill an elixir enhanced with a hint of apple vinegar. The langoustines rafraichies (chilled) are artistically presented with large dots of caviar. The turbot is steamed with seaweed, cooked to perfection and rested on a colorful, melting bed of chard, with a small glass cup of lobster bouillon complementing the marine taste. Pastry chef Nicolas Berger does the great French sweet classics like baba au rhum (although it was invented by a Polish king) and modern delicacies such as tropical fruit with coconut meringue. A procession of carts offers cheeses, teas and infusions of freshly cut herbs, and mignardises (dainty sweets) like nougats, guimauves (marshmallow), candies and ice cream. The endless wine list, overseen by head sommelier Laurent Roucayrol, includes options such as a red, fruity and reasonably priced Saint Joseph and a more elaborate Côte–Rôtie, la Fleur de Montlys, as well as an impressive selection of Grandes Marques Champagnes. Service is meticulously performed by smartly dressed waiters under the watchful attention of the maître d', Denis Courtiade.