Alain Ducasse at the Plaza Athenee Restaurant

Alain Ducasse Restaurant at the Plaza Athenée

A few years ago in Paris, I was invited to a special lunch by Dan Barber, of Blue Hill in New York City, who prepared a meal at the restaurant of Alain Ducasse at the Plaza Athenée. I’ve been fortunate to be on the guest list for some of these meals, including ones that profiled Japanese and Chinese chefs, meant to introduce the foods of other cultures to journalists and food professionals here in Paris.

Of course, Alain Ducasse has upscale restaurants in Paris, Monte Carlo, New York, and Tokyo. But during a recent renovation of the Plaza Athenée hotel in Paris, Chef Ducasse and his chef at the restaurant, Romain Meder, decided to break from – and challenge – the traditional definition of luxury dining, and feature the producers and farmers, who produce the food, where good cooking starts. The menu has been completely rewritten, focusing on vegetables and sustainable fish.

Alain Ducasse Restaurant at the Plaza Athenée

Before this transformation, when Dan Barber was at the restaurant, he gave an impassioned talk to the French journalists and food writers (along with a few of us anglophones) that were assembled, about what he’s doing at his restaurants and his philosophy. Unfortunately the translator gave a word-for-word recapitulation, which didn’t (and couldn’t) explain the sociological shift and remarkable, and profound, transformation in American dining and eating habits over the last few decades. People used to say to me, “Don’t all Americans eat at McDonald’s?” But those who have been to the states now come back, and say “The food was incroyable.”

Farmers’ markets are in full swing in most major cities in America, and on airplanes (and in fast-food restaurants), you’re likely to find bits of radicchio in your baby lettuce salad, and even my local Safeway in San Francisco had organic milk from a local producer and bean-to-bar chocolate. French cuisine has taken a notable hit, mostly because of the increased reliance on pre-packaged foods. But that’s kind of becoming a thing of the past, and the tides are turning. And in this case, it’s coming from the top.

Alain Ducasse Restaurant at the Plaza Athenée

Ducasse can afford to take a chance, as he has the wherewithal to do pretty much whatever he wants. (Although believe me, I’m sure it’s not easy.) He spent years building the outstanding La Manufacture, the first (and only) bean-to-bar chocolate shop and production facility in Paris. And now at his three-star restaurant, he’s taken meat off the menu, replacing it with what he calls La trilogie: Fish, vegetables, and grains.

Alain Ducasse Restaurant at the Plaza Athenée

Getting this out of the way, yes, I would love to see this concept and cuisine coming in at a lower price point, to a wider audience. The dinner menu costs €380 (which includes taxes and service), and for me, a dining experience like this would fall into the “very special occasion” category. I was invited (which happens on certain occasions, and I more often than not, decline), but was very interested in seeing what was going on. Especially since the restaurant has been sold-out since the hotel was remodeled from the ground up, including the restaurant, which has been transformed into a lighter space, with the massive chandeliers surrounded by delicate, sparkling crystals. Gone are the starched, pristine tablecloths in favor of polished oak tables. And there is a curious swooping arch over part of the dining room, enveloping a table for four, but also giving the illusion that somehow you’re taking in some sort of presentation. It’s a touch of drama, and I like it.

Alain Ducasse restaurant

Shortly after we sat down, close to the kitchen, the waiter poured us two glasses of a healthful “vitamin” drink, made of carrots, celery, apples, and a touch of fresh ginger.

Alain Ducasse Restaurant at the Plaza Athenée

We put our health issues aside when we saw the massive basket of salted raw milk butter, which they generously slathered on wooden spoons for each of us, which accompanied bread from Chambelland.

Alain Ducasse Restaurant at the Plaza Athenée

They told me the superlative butter comes from a Monsieur Leroux in Cauville.

Alain Ducasse Restaurant at the Plaza Athenée

If I lived closer to that dairy, that would be my “house” butter, too. Unfortunately Google maps showed that it’s a forty-two hour walk from my apartment, but one could argue that would be a good way to work it off. Non?

Alain Ducasse Restaurant at the Plaza Athenée

A few tastes were brought out, probably to prevent us from overindulging on the butter (which was a real possibility!) including a delicate ceramic bowl containing raw salsify slices on a bed of wild sorrel, which was excellent. Also called “oyster plant,” the salsify had the iodine-rich flavor of les huitres. Salsify is one of those things that’s hard to come by, and I’m going to keep an eye out for it in the future. I always forget how much I like it.

Alain Ducasse Restaurant at the Plaza Athenée

Since dinner coincided with Romain’s birthday (who was treated to a new winter coat for the occasion), he was encouraged (by me) to start with the Breton langoustines with caviar, which was heaped up in an exceptionally generous portion, which is the only way to eat caviar, in my humble opinion. It’s like when I do chocolate-tastings, it drives me nuts when people gingerly take a rice-sized sliver of chocolate from the chopped up bar. That teeny bit is not going to do it for you like a big bite of it will. So if you’re going to do it with caviar, this is how it’s done.

caviar

I went with the Légumes des jardins du château de Versailles, a lovely piled of just-picked vegetables from Alain Baraton, the “gardener in chief” of the vegetable garden outside of the château. (It’s open to the public, and you can even take tours from Paris.)

Alain Ducasse Restaurant at the Plaza Athenée

Each vegetable with perfectly and precisely cooked; tiny turnips with the little leaves still attached, slender fennel bulbs no larger than my pinky, silky caramelized onions, and tender beet leaves. The vegetables were so good that they didn’t need the slightly rich, contrasting sauce on them. A nice chervil butter would have been just perfect.

Alain Ducasse Restaurant at the Plaza Athenée

Because I wanted to try it, the waiter kindly brought us out Maïs grand roux du Pays Basque en bouillon, coquillages, a dish composed of kernels of fresh corn (a rarity in France, as fresh corn isn’t traditionally available, or eaten), chewy, super-fresh shellfish morsels that were just perfect, tendrils of samphire (also called salicorne, or sea beans), and a ribbon of whole grain pasta that I wouldn’t have minded if they’d left in the cooking water for another minute. (I mentioned that and was told it was done intentionally, to preserve the flavor of the grains in the ribbon of pasta.) This was the knockout dish of the night and I was sorry that I had to share it, and that we only had requested a small dish of it, to boot.

Alain Ducasse Restaurant at the Plaza Athenée

I was sending some pictures out on Instagram during dinner, and posted a picture what I thought was the spectacular-looking cauliflower with Comté cheese, baked inside brioche. I thought it was amazing-looking, and an intriguing idea. But a number of people made disparaging remarks about cauliflower. (And in fact, I wrote about that in My Paris Kitchen.) But I was curious about this treatment of a vegetable that most people have mixed feelings about.

Alain Ducasse Restaurant at the Plaza Athenée

When I took my first bite of it, after the waiter had sliced off a wedge for me, accompanied by scallops and an overload of white truffles (I pretended I was having trouble with my camera, and kept making him shave more and more on), I knew I had made the right choice. And knew better than to trust everything you read on social media. This is the way to cook this vegetable, which upstaged everything else – even the fragrant white truffles. (Apologies for the not-great picture of them. The light was quite low and they were much lighter in color than they appear in the picture.) It was nice to see a common vegetable being subjected to such an esteemed position. And if I wasn’t getting full at this point, I might have asked for another portion of that surprisingly magnificent cauliflower dish.

Alain Ducasse Restaurant at the Plaza Athenée

We also shared a dish of stockfish, a curious fish that’s salted and dried until it is rock-hard, for long-preservation. It needs to be soaked in multiple changes of water, for up to a week until it’s soft enough to use. I saw them in Nice and I didn’t pick one up (the smell, for one thing, doesn’t exactly make them conducive to those of us who live in enclosed city apartments), and I was excited to see it on the menu. So asked if we could try it.

The dish was served with a ragout comme à Monte-Carlo, and while it was quite good, it was hard to eat a rich tomato sauce-based dish after the more ethereal fare that came before it. When we were ordering, the waiter has suggested it might be a bit of a challenge at that stage of our meal, and he was right.

We were getting pretty full by that point (although, oddly, I could have eaten a lot more of that butter…), so instead of the usual blitz of cheese from the rolling cart, the waiter selected a few cheeses for us – Stilton, Ossau-Iraty, Stilton, a mountain cheese whose name escapes me, and a sensational Comté that had been aged for three years.

Alain Ducasse Restaurant at the Plaza Athenée

Yet that darned French cheese cart was still lurking in the background, so they brought it over and Romain was treated to a wedge of Camembert de Normandie and Saint-Nectaire, served with a few grilled slices of the ever-popular pain des amis from Du pain et des Idées.

Alain Ducasse Restaurant at the Plaza Athenée

Enfin, it was on to dessert. The server mentioned that the Citron niçois (lemon from Nice) was a pretty intense experience, served with kombu and tarragon, and he was right. I thought “intense lemon” was my middle name, but even I was unprepared for the forceful bowl of frozen lemon emulsion, which tasted like a cross between ice cream and sorbet, with tendrils of candied lemon peel scattered below it. We fell hard for what is the signature dessert, caillé de brebis (curdled sheeps milk), céréales (candied grains), and miel arbousier (arbutus), a dark, bitter honey, presented oozing from the honeycomb, and scooped by the waiter tableside.

Alain Ducasse Restaurant at the Plaza Athenée

I’ve learned not to go with the wine pairings at these kinds of dinners. While it’s tempting to try and see, and taste, what the sommelier comes up with, my palate gets tired quickly of so many tastes and I prefer one or two wines (we had a lovely white Burgundy from Pascal Marchand, up above) and I also like to see how the same wine evolves as the meal progresses, as it opens up, changes, and compliments different dishes as they come.

Alain Ducasse Restaurant at the Plaza Athenée

My phone memory konked out with the dessert wines (the Delectable wine app kept telling me to restart my phone — zut! — but I was too busy eating, and didn’t want to miss a minute – or a bite), but from my memory, I recall that one was a lovely sweet muscat that tasted like green grape skins that has been macerated in a lovely, grape-rich syrup, and just mildly sweet. The other was a sweet Vouvray that was drier than the muscat, although I liked both very much.

Alain Ducasse Restaurant at the Plaza Athenée

After doing some damage to the bar of chocolate praline made from their bean-to-bar chocolate (which I’m nibbling on now, courtesy of le doggy bag, we picked up our things, folded up the table, and headed home.

Not everyone can imagine a meal without meat, so there is a short menu offered to those sticklers for animal protein, which, on the night we went, featured farm-raised veal with squash from the gardens of Versailles, and chicken from the Landes with wheat berries, vegetables, and white truffles. We weren’t given those menus as they’re encouraging people to “go with the flow,” so to speak.

As Alexander Lobrano astutely noted in his just-updated book, Hungry for Paris, Alain Ducasse is “the gastronomic equivalent of Chanel.” There’s room in the world for haute couture (and haute cuisine), as well as Old Navy and Uniqlo (and taquerias and burger joints). One doesn’t replace the other, they just serve different clientele, and different functions. To some, dining out is a socio-political act. To others, it’s about having a luxurious experience. But I’ve venture to say that most of us dine out for pleasure and sustenance. This restaurant falls into that middle category and for most of us, it’s not an everyday experience.

My view is that Alain Ducasse is taking a leadership role, as he has the expertise, power, and resources to do so. Many of these foods are costly to obtain and to prepare, but as a leader, hopefully the ideas will trickle down to the younger chefs and cooks in France, who will adopt the ideas and do them in smaller kitchens and restaurants, at different price points in simpler surroundings. Vegetables often get short-shift in restaurants and Paris, and perhaps this will prompt others to start highlighting them on their menus, too. I’d love to see Chef Ducasse open an airy, warehouse space next with simple communal wood tables, with fresh, sustainable foods served forth on large platters and bowls. Maybe he, or someone else, will do that in the future. There are so many outstanding foods in France, and it’s a joy whenever someone wants to feature them, no matter what the surroundings.

Alain Ducasse Restaurant at the Plaza Athenée

Alain Ducasse at the Plaza Athenée
25, avenue Montaigne (8th)
Tél: 01 53 67 65 00
Métro: Alma-Marceau


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59 comments

  • P Adams
    November 17, 2014 10:11am

    Magnificent. Thank you for the lovely detailed post.

  • November 17, 2014 11:50am

    Well Done! It is in my opinion the best food blog on the wen!

  • November 17, 2014 11:53am

    Great report.

    But I feel uneasy about your comment “hopefully the ideas will trickle down to the younger chefs and cooks in France, who will adopt the ideas and do them in smaller kitchens and restaurants, at different price points in simpler surroundings.”… I mean, isn’t that what young chefs have been doing more and more for the last… ten or fifteen years…?
    Ducasse’s ambition is great, but I have to say, I feel you have fallen victim to his many press releases that picture him as an innovator, when he is just following the trend that’s already been going on for a while (albeit much more loudly…).

  • November 17, 2014 11:59am

    Redefining the traditional definition of luxury dining to feature farm fresh vegetables and sustainable fish sounds fantastic. Love all the food but raw milk butter and that honey drizzled cheese sounds divine. Thanks for sharing, David.

  • Linn
    November 17, 2014 2:48pm

    Lovely post, thanks. Did you say the comte was baked in with the cauliflower — underneath or on top of? It would be fun to try and make it. I have Ducasse’s Nature cookbook — wonderful!

  • Rose
    November 17, 2014 3:57pm

    Looks delicious! Do you think it would be acceptable to go here as a vegetarian and not have any seafood at all, just vegetable dishes? I don’t like to be too annoying about it. If so, new life goal. Ha.

    • November 17, 2014 5:06pm
      David Lebovitz

      I would imagine they would be happy to put together an all-vegetable menu. You could call and ask (the phone staff speaks English) and if you do reserve, it’s best to request that you would like an all-vegetarian menu.

  • Kate
    November 17, 2014 4:22pm

    Wow, what an amazing idea for cauliflower and a pleasure to see it presented that way. Everything looks great.

  • Cassandra
    November 17, 2014 4:58pm

    Mon dieu! Please figure out how to do the cauliflower thing and post a recipe. That looks amazing!!

  • Robby
    November 17, 2014 5:01pm

    Wow! I live in an area that has fully embraced that farm to table cuisine, but this is such an incredible display of even more sophisticated use of the style. I agree, not every meal must be this fancy or pricey to be worthy of great enjoyment, but it was lovely to see something I likely will not get to enjoy myself. Thanks for the virtual repast.

    • November 17, 2014 5:05pm
      David Lebovitz

      I recently went to a fancy Parisian Michelin-starred restaurant with a friend for lunch (her treat!) and it was pretty classical French food, served on a starchy linen tablecloth, with fine china and flatware, and that crisp, perfect French service, that these restaurants are known for. We were at lunch, which was less-expensive than the regular dinner prices (and the menu is abbreviated) but we had a great time and I thought that it’s something I should do more often. It was a “treat.” (Literally and figuratively!) But it was a lot of fun and a lovely way to pass an afternoon. It’s kind of one of those special, uniquely French experiences, even though their are certainly upscale restaurants elsewhere. But to be in Paris and doing it, just seemed especially appropriate : )

  • Janet
    November 17, 2014 5:13pm

    Wow David, your photos are breath-taking. I swore off tasting menus, but this menu you had could change my mind! Agree, it is at the top of the dining scale, but great product, ethical standards, and less formalities are welcome at all levels of dining.
    The dishes look so appealing, and no wacky combos. Sometimes inventiveness turns into a tragedy on the plate.

  • Karin
    November 17, 2014 5:18pm

    Health be darn, I want that butter!

  • Katie
    November 17, 2014 5:37pm

    Remarkable! Thank you for bringing us along on your meal. I am completely intrigued and fascinated by the cauliflower dish…how did they do it?!

    • November 17, 2014 5:39pm
      David Lebovitz

      My guess is that they par-cooked the cauliflower, let it cool, them wrapped it (and chunks of Comté cheese) in a sheet of brioche dough, then baked it, seam side down. One “trick” is that they used a very small, flavorful cauliflower. Because otherwise, it’s often a somewhat bland vegetable.

  • November 17, 2014 5:44pm

    What a magnificent meal…. I feel quite ‘full’ now :)
    Apart from those über-beautiful photos, the magnificent reading, I most certainly fell totally for the cauliflower gateau!!!! We were invited yesterday to a wonderful lunch a gifted friend cooked for us and funnily we discussed also the much underrated cauliflower and ‘how we liked it’…. There are so many ways but this is by a long stretch the most beautiful presentation I’ve ever, ever, ever seen. PLEASE try to figure out how this was made and share it with us; we all shall then STUN our friends with our choux-fleur-créations! Thank you SO MUCH for this amazing post.

  • Roberta Churchill
    November 17, 2014 5:45pm

    Of course it all sounds marvelous! But what was the price?

  • November 17, 2014 5:46pm

    David; while I wrote you gave an answer to the cauliflower question, but I don’t understand what you mean with par-cooked…. Tks for shedding light on this and aplogies for not speaking proper English.

    • November 17, 2014 6:54pm
      David Lebovitz

      It means partially cooked, so it was likely steamed or braised in some sort of liquid, like water or vegetable stock.

  • ron shapley(NYC)
    November 17, 2014 6:06pm

    Superb photos while I munch on a bologna sandwich. on Wonder bread with yellow mustard….. Thanks Dave…

  • Matt
    November 17, 2014 6:29pm

    David, one of my favourite blog posts, well done. I too “hate” cauliflower, I grew up in a house where all meals were home cooked, and even at 3 years old would quite happily eat Black Pudding (Blood Sausage), smoked fish, herring etc. (we lived on the North Sea). Although, there is a big BUT, cauliflower, the memory of been forced to eat steamed cauliflower sears nothing but contempt for that vegetable into my brain…….and here I am today, age 37, and still will not eat cauliflower!

  • November 17, 2014 6:31pm

    What a memorable birthday dinner, plus a coat! I am intrigued with the Breton langoustines with caviar and the Maïs grand roux du Pays Basque en bouillon. Sounds like Ducasse has successfully reinvented himself for a new chapter. I admire Basque anything and will enjoy looking into the history of that dish. Also love the Delectable app and not having to take notes on wine labels that never get consolidated anywhere handy.

  • November 17, 2014 6:33pm

    Looks like a great meal. And I like that you brought your own table…ha-ha. I’m not sure what kind of a chef Barber is not having dined in any of his establishments as the price points are only for certain days of lavish appointments. He is very literary in his exclamations about what food ought to or ought not to be but the prices are way beyond the quotidian experience. He has been the recipient of lavish generosity by Rockefeller and did well with it. It looks as though Ducasse is picking up the spirit of Passard here with the vegetable explorations. I like your plea for a communal table with large platters but at a communal table it would be really difficult to pass the large platters around. The long wooden table is something I’d like to see make a comeback for gustatory experiences and since it connotes some sort of peasant style to keep the prices at that same level. These days with $20 hamburgers and $25 pizzas I’m not so sure.

  • Sandra Myers
    November 17, 2014 6:44pm

    I heard about this from E & S this past Saturday night. They told me you had an amazing time there. I’ve heard about Alain Ducasse from a former work associate of Mike–about the premiere offerings at his restaurants. I think you made the wise choice re the wine pairings and going with a much simpler choice. We did a wine pairing samplings meal many years ago at an amazing establishment in the farm country in NJ of all places, and came out with a bill that knocked our socks off–$$$$$.
    Glad you enjoyed and could share with us.

  • Ellie E
    November 17, 2014 7:01pm

    I had been eagerly waiting for your recap of your meal after having seen (and drooled) over your IG photos of the meal. Thanks for sharing.

  • November 17, 2014 7:44pm

    Augh this has me practically drooling…
    I’m really tickled when vegetables get the attention they deserve. They’re so rich in textures, colors and tastes, it would be a shame to deny them the spotlight — as this article proves!

  • Susan C
    November 17, 2014 7:47pm

    Great article David! And I love Chef Ducasse!
    Btw… Was there a typo in the paragraph talking about the translator?
    “…Unfortunately the translator was gave a word-for-word”. Did you mean “the translator wasn’t given…”?

  • November 17, 2014 8:03pm

    I am a big fan of cauliflower and can well imagine it holding its own with white truffles. The website Food 52 recently had a posting of cauliflower recipes that I am currently working through – from rafinee to down home – all worth a try. And as Thanksgiving approaches here in the good ole US of A, there are very inventive brussel sprouts recipes, too – another one of those much maligned but magnificent vegetables. I guess you can tell that I eat meat about once a month ….

  • Philip Ferrato
    November 17, 2014 8:06pm

    Interesting to look at this meal in light of the ones I’ve had at Chez Panisse.

    As per their website, this location has a very truncated schedule– dinner only Monday through Friday and offering lunch Thursday and Friday only– which may be why they’re always fully booked. On the other hand, Ducasse apparently oversees all the hotel’s kitchens. The room service meals are probably amazing.

  • Donna Adams
    November 17, 2014 9:01pm

    David, Great Post! Alain Ducasse is one my favorite Chef’s Thank you for posting “Hungry for Paris” two months ago, I found two Great Restaurant’s in the book and both were Alain Ducasse “Allard” Mason Fondee 1932 and “Aux Lyonnais” a cozy1890 Vintage bouchon with stunning Art Nouveau for traditional French Cuisine that we dined at last month. I did not look you up in Paris for I knew you were busy taking many friends out to dinners.
    Back to your post… how can any thing upstage White Truffles? you were very clever to fool with your camera to get more Truffles! Also I agree about your wine choice’s staying with two wines to change and compliment. Merci!

  • November 17, 2014 9:02pm

    Ciao! Looks like it was an amazing meal, to say the least. Neo-natal vegetables seem to be a ‘thing’ in Paris! In a very tasty way.

    Question: do you have any idea who is supplying the fish? I’m curious about ‘sustainable’ fish in France and how that determination is made. It’s really tough to suss out that info in Italy. Maybe it’s easier in France?
    Also curious because codfish (stockfish) isn’t showing up on many sustainable lists. So many questions, I know!

  • November 17, 2014 9:30pm

    I didn’t even notice there was no meat (seafood excepted) in the meal until it was mentioned! And that alone speaks volumes of what a exceptional meal it was, did not feel like anything was missing.

  • November 17, 2014 10:28pm
    David Lebovitz

    Judith: Yes, it’s difficult here to determine who is selling truly sustainable seafood. The seafood is from Gilles Jégo in Brittany and in Provence, Bernard Agostinelli. Generally if you stick to small fish, like sardines and mackerel, they are likely more “sustainable” than other fish.

  • November 17, 2014 10:36pm

    I applaud your magnificent review of the cauliflower.

    Oh and the rest sounded ok too
    ;)

  • November 17, 2014 10:55pm

    Great post as always, David. Pictures are gorgeous and the food looks amazing. Barber’s book, The Third Plate was an enlightening read for my book group. We all agreed that this philosophy for food service is a great vision for the future – we just wished it could be affordable for more people everywhere to eat “real” food, right? Thanks again.

    • November 17, 2014 11:00pm
      David Lebovitz

      The question is always, how can we make good food affordable, and pay the people who grow and produce it, an appropriate wage for their work? It’s not an easy answer since we all like low prices. Of course, dining at this level is a luxury, but businesses like Chipotle and In-And-Out Burger in the US seem to be doing the right thing at a different price point. So it is possible.

  • November 17, 2014 11:14pm

    Agreed – well said, David. Thanks so much for responding. -Valerie

  • November 18, 2014 1:04am

    Great review! My daughter and her husband sometimes treat themselves to a tasting menu at that sort of restaurant as a treat for a special birthday or something similar, which is not something that would occur to me and my husband to do! But fun.

    The food looks lovely, but so many restaurants nowadays seem to think that the proper way to serve vegetables is just to wave them over the top of the steamer, so they are still pretty much raw when they come to the table. I don’t like my vegetables cooked to mush, but I do like them properly cooked (steamed or sauteed, not boiled these days), and when it comes to cauliflower, I simply can’t digest it if it isn’t fully cooked. I hope that was not your experience….. but perhaps you like them like that? Lots of people do.

  • Su Chiang
    November 18, 2014 1:08am

    The swooping arch looks like a giant mushroom!

  • tunie
    November 18, 2014 1:42am

    Ha, “heaped caviar” and “humble” in the same sentence is pretty amusing…funny, funny

    But wow, absolutely love the bravery and creativity of the highest of the high limiting the menu in a healthful and sustainable way. Not sure this would fly in a similar way with the current love of reverse snobbery regarding meat you see in the US right now. If you’re going to eat meat, then yes, head to toe, ok ok, but how about playing around with your vegetables and no meat! Really fun and encouraging!

    I’m taking notes; particularly like that layered beet leaf formation – gorgeous.

    And the giant mushroom ‘ear’ decor is really genius…

  • Oonagh
    November 18, 2014 4:04am

    This is interesting. Ducasse also has a restaurant in Hong Kong and it is the only place in Hong Kong, including cheap-as-chips dai pai dongs as they’re called here, that I have ever been served overcooked vegetables. Terrible.

  • Corine
    November 18, 2014 5:57am

    Fabulous, text and pictures.

  • Amy
    November 18, 2014 11:37am

    This post had me looking for the guest blogger’s name at the top, until your usual voice started to peek out mid-way through. Interesting that you matched your rhetoric to the meal, but I do hope that good old unpretentious David will be back soon. Your refusal to baste even folks you adore too heavily with the rich cliches is one of your (many) best qualities.

    • November 18, 2014 1:49pm
      David Lebovitz

      Not sure what that means, but on the blog, I write about things that interest me about France, and elsewhere – whether it is a simple slab of French cheese, a convivial wine bar I find interesting enough to share, a fruit or vegetable at the outdoor market, recipes, and restaurants – from funky hole-in-the-wall places, to Michelin-starred places. (Which I think I’ve written about only a handful of times since the blog began). I actually wasn’t planning to share the meal and story of the restaurant on the blog, but when I thought about it the next day, it brought up a lot of interesting points that I felt like sharing. I’m not a restaurant reviewer so I try to speak like I normally do when I write on the blog, when talking about restaurants. Apologies if you found it pretentious, but I do keep in mind that readers come to Paris (and to the blog) for a variety of reasons, and I hope that people enjoy the variety of experiences, from the simple, to the sumptuous.

  • Doug Wagner
    November 18, 2014 4:41pm

    wonderful!
    When I first glanced at the post, I thought “wow… Corn and shrimp over Freetos”

  • November 18, 2014 4:55pm

    What a lovely restaurant! The swooping arch is beautiful!

  • November 18, 2014 6:26pm

    What counts as a very special occasion? I’m tempted to go propose to someone in the street so I have an excuse to eat here.

  • naomi
    November 18, 2014 6:45pm

    How wonderful seeing a stunning meal that didn’t need a protein I don’t eat. The big fad lately in New Orleans seems pig and cow. While all look beautiful, I’ll only be looking (as a pescatarian – I do live in NOLA so I must eat fish). It is expensive but the presentation and quality shines in your photos and words.

    I’ll also say, the more we buy directly from the producers, sans middleman, the better we all do. An international grocer which will not be named here (cough out of Texas) has attempted deals with several growers I know here and in other states. They want them to ship organic produce to the distribution center in another state so they can ship it back. The costs ate any profit, and when the company was told that, the producers were told they could take out a low interest loan from the company for shipping – right! Buy local: it’s expensive but the more who do so, the lower the price can drop. (In several states there’s a program to double the value of food stamps used at farmers markets, so good food is available to those with the least.)

    Thanks, David, for showing the trend of good food at the highest level.

  • Fabiana
    November 19, 2014 2:01am

    Sounds like a great place for a delicious dinner! That reastaurant looks just like the ones I love.

  • Irene
    November 19, 2014 6:59am

    I’m just fuming over the comment above from Amy. Talk about pretentious! Your post was wonderful and probably got more than one person off the couch to pick up a cauliflower and wrap it in brioche. Thanks for the inspiration. Please remind readers of how delicious cauliflower can be in béchamel– nothing like the boiled to death florets my parents used to make for Sunday supper.

  • November 19, 2014 7:35am

    i want that bucket of butter. i want it!

  • Lisa Slatt
    November 19, 2014 5:13pm

    David,

    I felt inspired to make the Christmas cake from your “My Paris Kitchen” book. However, in reading over the recipe a few times, I am not sure what to do with the orange syrup that the recipe calls for. I might be missing something…should it be poured/brushed over the cake before it is put in the fridge?

    Thanks,
    Lisa

    • November 19, 2014 5:20pm
      David Lebovitz

      Hi Lisa: That’s a great cake and I make it every year for the holidays! The syrup gets brushed on the cake (you can see the errata here, along with a few others tips). Due to an editorial error, it was missing from some of the first editions of the book but is in subsequent printings. Enjoy the cake!

  • Sheila
    November 19, 2014 10:16pm

    For those people who think they don’t like cauliflower (or any other vegetable for that matter) just toss fleurettes in olive oil and the seasoning of your choice and roast in oven. Brussel sprouts are the best thing you’ve ever had in your life cooked this way. I cut them in half and let them get way brown. So yummy with pretty much all veggies this way.
    Sheila

  • tim
    November 20, 2014 4:04am

    Salisfy I am still looking for it and never find it. One of the best vegetables ever. I had it last at Blue Hill at stone barns. It was braised in milk with Speck ham. Sooooo good.

  • November 21, 2014 1:42pm

    Woahh… that bucket of butter! This one can be a perfect place for dinner. Thanks for sharing this fabulous post, Loved it!

  • Jill
    November 26, 2014 10:50am

    Interesting to see Oyster plant mentioned. I am forever pulling it out of my flower garden and because I let it go to flower the root is not worthwhile. Must try eating it more often

  • carolanne
    November 27, 2014 2:10pm

    Thank you for your lovely post! I enjoyed reading your journey and have made note of a few items to try – Salisfy and cauliflower brioche. I wish we had greater acces to sea beans as I have bad go into the big cities to find them.

    We have joined our local CSA and look forward to the variety – even now as we begin our winter in Canada. This allows us to experiment with different varieties that show up in our basket. I am just trying figure out what to do with a large bunch of young daikon radishes (other than salad). We are fortunate where we live in eastern Ontario as there is a local food movement – cheese and butter producers, grass fed producers, ground flours for breads and pastries – supporting local restaurants and our small city. Although it is a little more expensive it is worth it to support our local producers.

  • Claudia
    December 3, 2014 10:57am

    Dear David,
    I loved reading this post, it really makes me want to go there!
    All the best,
    Claudia

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