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Fall for Gourmets in Paris

Charting the Changes Big and Small

Quite often, Parisian restaurants mark the coming of fall with some changes such as a new chef or different décor. There’s nothing to report along those lines from the great dining palaces—for the moment. Although a rumor concerning the departure of a certain triple-starred chef is making the rounds, we’ll have to wait a few more weeks to know for sure.

In 2005, the start of the season was marked by Alain Senderens at Lucas Carton “giving back” his three stars to the Michelin Guide in favor of simplified décor, service and cuisine. A year later, Senderens (Lucas Carton’s new name) is packed, and you have to reserve way in advance. Christian Constant, head chef at Les Ambassadeurs (Hôtel de Crillon) a decade ago, reiterated Senderens’ statement more discreetly by cutting in half the prices at his restaurant Le Violon d’Ingres. He had already lost a Michelin star and while this decision seems less spectacular, it does illustrate a trend of lowering prices to attract a younger clientele. In contrast, trendy and fashionable places and those that cater to glitterati are raising prices.

Hélène Darroze

Young Hélène Darroze, has just added an addition to the ground floor of her restaurant, called Boudoir. For around €60 one can enjoy extremely sophisticated (and gourmet) finger foods like truffled Landes duck foie gras lollipop, saturated with flavors of the Southwest.

Two former chefs at Alain Senderens—Bertrand Ganneron and Frederic Robert—have just surfaced, the first as the owner of Bascou, the latter at La Grande Cascade.

Le Chateaubriand on avenue Parmentier, which was put on the map by a young Englishwoman of anonymous background, now has a young Basque at the helm. Inaki Aizpitarte was most recently at restaurant Le Transversal (Musée de Vitry on the Seine), and he offers a cuisine he calls “avant-garde.”

As far as bistros go, Jean Paul Arabian, once director of Ledoyen, and owner of Pierre au Palais Royal, has opened Le Caméléon. There, starting at eight o’clock each morning, you can have breakfast and get items to go. Chef David Angelot, also formerly at Ledoyen, updates classics of bourgeois cuisine: warm leeks in vinaigrette, mackerel pissaladière, fried smelt fish, skate with capers, and Provençal bourride (white fish with potatoes in a lightly flavored garlic sauce). The warm décor is by Alberto Balli, and prices are reasonable: €30 for a lunch menu à la carte, €40 for dinner.

Close by, on the rue de la Grande Chaumière, Wadja has restaurateur Thierry Coue who is one of the players helping to revive the bistro scene in Paris. Alain Ducasse is also in the news: he has entrusted young David Zuddas with the task of creating a sandwich out of Berber bread, red pepper confit, eggplant and feta available in all B.E.s or Boulangepiceries. It’s also said that the multi-starred chef has his heart set on an old brasserie in the 17th arrondissement. The name Rech has been going around.

Finally, Pascal Yar, former director of Gaya Rive Gauche, reopened his “club” for fish aficionados in the 7th arrondissement called 35 degrés Ouest, where the young Reddy Merienne prepares a colorful and poignant cuisine: warm sardines in spicy chutney, fish tartar in Caesar sauce (with anchovies) and delicious pan fried langoustine accompanied by a water cress velouté. The roast wild bass with cèpes mushrooms and veal juice reduction like the Saint Pierre fish with cockles and capers served with a lightly moussed jus are his modern takes on the seafood genre. Count on a few gourmet desserts, wines by the glass, and a small but well-selected wine cellar. Small lunch menu (wine and coffee included): €29. A la carte about €55.

(Updated 01/23/13 AB)

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