Epicure Hôtel Le Bristol Eric Frechon Epicure
Hôtel Le Bristol
112, rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré
75008 Paris
01 53 43 43 40
Cuisine: French / Contemporary
A success story: The quiet but irresistible ascent of Eric Frechon to the summit.
Openings: Breakfast daily, Lunch & Dinner Tues.-Sat.
Epicure, Paris, france

Epicure Restaurant Review:

It's a lovely story. In 1985, Eric Frechon, then 21 years old, was hired as a commis (apprentice chef) at Hotel Le Bristol, one of the most select of the Parisian Palaces (the property was conceived in 1925 by Hippolyte Jammet, whose grandson André, by the way, owned and ran the esteemed, now defunct, La Caravelle in Manhattan). After a few years polishing his skills, Frechon moved on. Then in 1999, Frechon, the seasoned apprentice, was called back to Le Bristol by the owners, the Oetkers, a wealthy German family, to helm the kitchens. Epicure now glitters at the top of the Parisian gastronomy, and Frechon, still modest and discreet, shines in the culinary Gotha. When he is away from the kitchen, longtime chef Franck Leroy oversees the restaurant. The superbly elegant dining room opens widely on the "jardin à la Française" --- a model of architectural balance evocative of a soothing cloister. It's common to see international moguls, movie stars and high-ranking French politicians (the Presidential Palace and the Ministry of the Interior are at the corner) lunching or dining at one of the 45 tables, which are widely spaced on both sides of the fireplace that's topped by an 18th-century painting of a waterfall (a genuine artwork, as are all of the other paintings and tapestries). Amuse-bouches composed of a mini truffled croque monsieur, foie gras in a sorrel emulsion, and fried whelk set the tone: Frechon is a keeper of the French culinary tradition, but, he says, "in a constant evolution. A cuisine, of savor, spices and fresh herbs." He doesn't hesitate to present classic bistro fare, a tad rogue, such as herring pomme à l'huile (kipper with potato salad), only revisited and mellowed in an emulsion of fromage blanc (cottage cheese) on a jelly of vegetables. Elegance comports the spirit and the taste of this brasserie dish. Expect the same treatment for the humble "merlan de ligne." Modest whiting panned with a thin slice of bread encrusted with almonds, half-cooked tetragon, curry oil and piquillo peppers melts in the mouth, liberating a subtle oceanic flavor, which is the reason why it stands on the menu as one of the favorites of the chef, reminiscent of his youth on the Normandy seaside. Apart from these evocations of popular fare, Frechon addresses with the same dexterity the Palace cuisine and its rich ingredients, such as the whole truffle cooked in a salt crust with a Jerusalem artichoke mousseline, chicken juice and grilled bone marrow croutons that captivates your sense of smell and perfumes the surrounding space. Pigeon served to specifications and lacquered with spicy honey, with a crumble of pine nuts and cumin-stewed fennel, in a jus à la diable (meat sauce reduction), belongs to the succulent highlights of the menu, as does the "chestnut of the sea," indeed a sea urchin enriched with an egg brouillade, and the inventive grilled leek stuffed with a tartare of oyster with Xeres vinegar, an exciting combination. A refined touch is the changing of napkins for the desserts. We have enjoyed sweet finales such as nitrogen-frozen Madagascar vanilla and caramel mou (soft) praliné of hazelnut and pecan ice cream. The "Priceless Nyangbo Chocolat" is a savory variation on cocoa: liquid, solid and frozen in a fine real-gold foil. On the lighter and more refreshing side, splendid too is the citron de Menton (Menton lemon) frozen with limoncello. Service is at par with the excellence of the food, as is the wine program, which is 90% French and features the premium wines one would expect.

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Carving perigord truffle from crust