Taillevent

Taillevent – 2006 My reasons for choosing to review Taillevent restaurant in Paris were initially quite flippant. Although I would be the first to admit that restaurant correspondents are the last people to deserve a Christmas treat I thought that one more meal at this quite exceptional Paris restaurant would not be anything other than pure pleasure. But as I was held in the queue to make my booking I learnt something far more important. 2006 is the 60th anniversary of this restaurant which has been in the same location…






La Tour d’Argent

La Tour d’Argent – 2005 The cloakroom attendant at Paris’s renowned La Tour d’Argent seemed almost as pleased to see us as we were to embark on our long-anticipated celebratory family dinner in this famous restaurant looking down on the Seine. But while our focus was the menu and, in particular its ‘caneton d’argent’ (literally silver duckling), her eyes were only for our elegantly attired but un-tied 20 year-old son who had barely enough time to take off his coat before she pointed him towards a rack with eight dark…






The Rose Bakery

The Rose Bakery – 2003 Brunch is, not surprisingly, a meal that Parisians are only now beginning to appreciate – after all in a culture that has existed around three good meals a day an amalgamation of breakfast and lunch has been unnecessary. But times are changing and anyone who likes to sleep in late at the weekend and still enjoy eggs, bacon, tomato and toast, boiled eggs with Marmite toast, crunchy granola or porridge with honey, should head for the charmingly named Rose Bakery no more than 15 minutes…






Chez Denise

Chex Denise – 2003 Smokers to the right, smokers to the left. All around are red-and-white checked napkins and tablecloths; on the walls inter alia are pictures of Oscar Wilde and a photo of the singer George Brassens whilst above electric fans continually whirl rather precariously on thick wooden beams. Welcome to Les Halles, Paris, le vrai Paris for meat lovers and anyone who wants to eat anything at any time in the early morning. But Chez Denise, across the small park from the main part of Les Halles and…






Chez Michel and Le Violon d’Ingres

Chez Michel and Le Violon d’Ingres – 2004 Without wishing this to sound like a shaggy dog story, the following three Paris restaurant recommendations came from an American, a Brazilian and a Frenchman. And the brevity of each report is in inverse proportion to the enormous pleasure each particular restaurant offered. Chez Michel, which I learnt of from flicking through the Zagat survey of Europe’s top restaurants, is precisely three minutes’ walk from the Gare du Nord although like an increasing number of restaurants across France it is closed on…






The female chefs of Paris

The female chefs of Paris – 2006 Gilles Pudlowski’s book Great Women Chefs of Europe has, since it was published at the end of last year by Flammarion, prompted two distinct reactions. The first and most obvious is the desire to visit all of the restaurants listed which range in alphabetical order from Elena Arzak in San Sebastian, Spain to Luisa Valazza in Soriso in northern Italy, something I hope to achieve one day. The other, more serious, has been to give some thought to why there are not more…






Hiramatsu and L’Ami Jean

Hiramatsu and L’Ami Jean – 2005 Shortly after 11pm the second of two sliding doors which separate his kitchen from his restaurant opened noiselessly and chef Hiroyuki Hiramatsu, dressed in immaculate whites, stood on the threshold. Blinking rather incredulously, as though a room full of happy customers was the last thing he had expected to see, he rubbed his eyes, smiled almost imperceptibly and promptly turned on his heels and went back to work. As well as 11 restaurants dotted around Japan, Hiroyuki Hiramatsu has been cooking in Paris for…






Le Cinq

Le Cinq – 2005 The camera, it is said, never lies but I do not believe that television’s current preoccupation with programmes designed to emphasise the speed, noise and, above all, the bad language in restaurant kitchens paints the full or even the correct picture of life behind the swing door, even if it makes for much better drama. There is no doubt that speed is an essential ingredient, particularly in those restaurants on both sides of the Atlantic which aim to ‘turn tables’ up to three times in an…






L’Angle du Faubourg and Willi’s Wine Bar

L’Angle du Faubourg and Willi’s Wine Bar – 2002 On your way out of L’Angle du Faubourg in Paris’s smart 8th arrondissement something takes place which is highly unusual yet so highly indicative of an extremely well run restaurant. Without mentioning your name or handing over a piece of paper or a plastic token you are promptly reunited with your coat. This apparent sleight of hand is not of course operationally that difficult – it merely requires an attentive receptionist and sufficient, clearly defined, cloakroom space for each table –…






Market

Market – 2001 Last week I watched two French restaurateurs, one from Paris, the other from the Lubéron, meet by chance outside Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s recently opened Market restaurant just off the Champs Elysées. They immediately began to swap views on the food they had just enjoyed. It was a brief conversation, not just because they could find so little to criticise but also because, as one explained, Vongerichten has once again created the kind of menu that today’s customers crave. ‘Cosmopolitan Parisians are increasingly looking for light, innovative flavours in…