Simple. This is the new culinary trend in some of Paris' top restaurants, as presented by its best chefs. From Alain Ducasse at his re-envisioned Plaza Athénée establishment to Christophe Langrée's all-abuzz Faust, simple presentation of incomparable ingredients is what these chefs are all about.
And, as everyone knows, to elaborate something simple, masterfully, is an achievement of the greatest skill.
The new Paris restaurant Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée — Photo courtesy of Plaza Athénée
Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée
Imagine craving caviar, but not just any caviar. A whole bowl of caviar doré served with green lentils from Puy and a jelly made from smoked eel. Got your attention? We thought it might.
This is one of those dishes that if it weren’t Alain Ducasse presenting it to you at Plaza Athénée, you might never try it. But once tasted, there’s no going back.
It’s health and deliciousness served up in one sizeable Japanese bamboo bowl plated in silver that sort of waddles as you dip into your smoked eel jelly with the gifts of golden caviar and lentils buried beneath.
Wash it down with a 2009 Château Margaux, and you’re in heaven’s fifth dimension, along with Ducasse and his new "Simple is best" culinary direction.
A thumb-sized bowl of sel de Guerande is set next to your wooden bamboo bespoke utensils that Ducasse himself has sourced from a Japanese artisan from Kyoto. Nibbles on the seed crackers and gluten-free bread with smears of butter ladled from its Normandy wooden basket by head waiter Denis Courtiade punctuate your meal.
Dessert . . . Ahh. Dessert never ends.
Christophe Langrée was the head chef for France’s Prime Minister for six years. On a daily basis, he served meals to 300 and more for state dinners and lunches while at Matignon.
So, we have to wonder, how in the world do you make the transition from being the chef for France’s Head of State to working at a hip restaurant like Faust, the much buzzed about and just opened restaurant underneath the Alexandre III bridge? Langrée’s response is a shrug.
"If I am cooking for 300 at Matignon or cooking for 300 here, there’s not that much of a difference," he says.
Inside Faust restaurant — Photo courtesy of Paige Donner
In terms of elaborating on ingredients, Langrée talks like a winemaker. His explanation for how he approaches food preparation is simple.
"To find and choose the absolute best ingredients, second to none, and then do as little harm to them as possible," Langrée says.
Then there's the space itself, which is like a movie set, with street lamps as indoor lighting and an iron circular staircase for dramatic emphasis.
Molitor and Victoria 1836
Anther notable restaurant recently opened is Molitor. Here, young Chef Julien Mercier follows the menu that Yannick Alléno has designed, which pairs three Meilleur Ouvriers de France (honored and distinguished) chefs’ cuisine together for main courses, bread and desserts/patisseries.
The menu changes each season, honoring a triad of new MOFs each time.
New restaurant Molitor in Paris — Photo courtesy of Paige Donner
Lastly, fresh on the restaurant scene is Victoria 1836, the gorgeously redecorated, newly re-opened restaurant on the Grande Armée side of the Arc de Triomphe.
You will find the dark walnut, white and wood with sapphire jewel-toned-accent décor by Sarah Lavoine buttoned down and stunning.
Rotating photographic works keep the wall art refreshed and interesting.
The menu features French favorites by Chef Alexandre Auger, such as grilled lamb shank and profiterolles served with hot chocolate sauce. Steak, ahi tuna and Scottish salmon are also on the menu.
Victoria 1836's elegant interior — Photo courtesy of Victorial 1836