Plaza Athenee

25 rue Montaigne, Paris 7e, Paris, France

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Chef interview

Christophe was head chef of the Alain Ducasse flagship restaurant Plaza Athenee in Paris, a 3 star Michelin restaurant.

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What follows are brief notes from a previous meal in June 2004.

The Plaza Athénée was featured in the concluding episode of Sex and the City, and it is interesting to know how even a successful artist could afford a suite here. To give you a sense of scale, a beer is EUR 12, a glass of champagne EUR 18, and to add insult to injury it is not even a proper sized glass.

The dining room has a high ceiling and had tall windows looking out onto the hotel terrace. Bizarrely, the lovely chandeliers are obscured by hideous grey plastic cylinders, so that they are only partly visible. One might hope that this was some sort of building work going on, but sadly I think that is the effect they intend. We began with a delicate spinach puff (18/20) and a partly cooked langoustine with caviar and lemon sauce, served cold (17/20). Raw and cooked asparagus, morels and an asparagus mousse all featured fine ingredients (18/20). We actually went for a menu involving the spring ingredients of morels and asparagus. Next up was lobster cooked with asparagus and morels (18/20), served with a cup of utterly wonderful morel juice with a little cream on top (20/20).

The next dish for my wife was sole on a bed of perfect spinach, with three baby leaves, a tiny crayfish and more morels. My main course was breast of poulet Bresse, absolutely superb, cooked with morels, crayfish and a light chicken jus (20/20). Cheese was generally superb, with fine St Maure, Brie, aged Comte, Camembert, Munster and, oddly, a very poor Stilton that they reckon to get from Neal’s Yard but was crumbly and poor.

For dessert there was a chocolate crisp with chocolate ice cream, peanuts and lemon cream, together with a bowl of chocolate ice cream; this dish could have done with a contrast (19/20). I had a perfect Rum Baba, the sponge even better than the fine version served at Louis XV in Monaco (20/20). With the coffee was a coffee and chocolate macaroon, coconut beignet with exotic pineapple sauce (17/20) and a red fruit jelly. Best of all was a dazzling cream of passion fruit served on a vanilla pastry base and topped with a perfect chocolate disk; the passion fruit was solid but exploded on the tongue with intense flavour when eaten – one of the best petit fours I have ever eaten.

Further reviews: 13th Jan 2012

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