Important note. Since my visit the style of the restaurant has changed signficantly, so the notes below are largely of historic interest.
Alain Senderens has been established for a long time in this centrally located early 1900s building near foodie heaven Fauchon. The décor is mainly wood panelling with extensive mirrors, the banquette seating and clever use of screens adding a cosy feel to the dining room. Service is as smooth as you would expect, friendly and efficient. I was greeted with an initial amuse-bouche of “chicken wing”, a little piece of chicken cooking on the bone, with a little dish of intense chicken stock flavoured with herbs (18/20). This was followed by a raviolo of scallop topped with strips of green apple, which had very tender pasta but in which the flavour of the scallop was hardly present (16/20). Bread was crusty rolls, very fresh and regularly topped up throughout the evening (17/20).
My starter was two langoustines, wrapped in crisp vermicelli which acted as a batter, offered with a dip of shellfish bisque, flavoured with chives. This was very tasty and an unusual idea (18/20) though at a price of EUR 95 for this dish alone, so it should be. Bresse chicken was served as four pieces, each topped with a slice of ceps, and served with a ceps risotto and a creamy jus of the cooking stock. The chicken was very tender and had the excellent flavour that only Bresse chicken possesses, while the stock was pleasant – the dish lacked any vegetables, and was crying out in particular for a green vegetable (17/20).
Cheese was in very good condition, as ever in France where the turnover is so much higher than UK restaurants. There was excellent Brie and Camembert, young Epoisses and Munster that was not quite ready yet, but best was a fine old Comte which had great depth of flavour (19/20).
Dessert was unusual – a chocolate “cake” that was actually just a ring of pure chocolate cooked directly onto a plate, with a texture that was liquid but just thick enough to hang together in a ring shape on the plate. The chocolate was intense, of the very finest quality, and it was an interesting sensation to be eating liquid chocolate with no visible means of support (19/20). Coffee and petit-fours were good, with a delicate tuile, a chocolate macaroon and a little lychee on a biscuit base.
So far, so good, until it comes to the tricky subject of the bill. I had three courses plus cheese, with three glasses of house wine (in a nice touch, each dish on the menu has a recommended pairing of a particular glass of wine). This came to a little matter of EUR 345 - this is for one person, you understand. The set tasting menu was EUR 255, or EUR 380 with accompanying wine. These are pretty shocking numbers, significantly more than Ducasse in Monaco for example. All for food, which, while very pleasant and certainly very good, was at no stage dazzling. It is hard to recommend the restaurant given these prices. Last visited October 2003. Note that since my last visit the place has been simplified and was reduced to two Michelin stars.