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Taillevent

15 Rue Lammenais, Paris, 75008, France

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Taillevent was set up in 1946 by André Vrinat, gaining its first Michelin star in 1948, its second in 1954 and its third in 1973 under chef Claude Deligne. Philippe Legendre cooked here from 1991 to 1999 before the kitchen reins were taken over in 2002 by its current incumbent Alain Solivérès. Mr Solivérès trained at Louis XV and Lucas Carton amongst others before moving to Taillevent. The restaurant controversially lost its third Michelin star in 2007. The name Taillevent is a reference to the first French cookbook, which was written by Guillame Tirel and whose nickname was Taillevent.

The restaurant is split into several sections on the ground floor, with two additional private dining rooms upstairs. The dining room can seat around 65 customers downstairs, with the two private rooms able to accommodate up to 12 and 30 guests respectively. The room has wooden panelling on the walls, brown upholstery, striped carpet in neutral shades, and no music to distract from the food. Much of the seating is on banquettes, with pairs of diners placed next to rather than opposite each other. The overall effect is quite cosy, though tables are reasonably well-spaced.

The tasting menu was €198, or €340 for a truffle tasting menu, in addition to an à la carte selection. Taillevent offers a vast wine list with over 3,000 different selections, starting at just €28. The wine list arrives in a vast black tome, the selection mostly French but with a smattering of foreign wines too. Paris wines in smart restaurants can have breathtaking markups, but this list was a pleasant surprise, with plenty of relative bargains tucked away on the list. Trimbach Clos St Hune Riesling 2001 was priced on the list at €200, yet in a shop it will set you back around €247. Not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, this is what we drank. Domaine Michel Niellon Chassagne Montrachet 2002 was €80 for a wine that you can find in the shops for around €56, and Chateau Musar 1995 was €110 for a wine that retails at around €85. Domaine Armand Rousseau 2001 Charmes Chambertin was priced at €280 for a wine that you can find in a shop for around €195.

The meal began with gougeres made from one year old aged Comte from Bernard Antony. These gougeres were terrific, evenly piped out, with very light choux pastry and above all with plenty of Comte flavour. Gougeres are a popular nibble in French restaurants, but even in Michelin-starred places it is surprising how many arrive with little flavour. These were top of the range gougeres (19/20). Bread was a choice of country bread or white, with good texture, in particular for the country bread (18/20). The bread was bought-in from a bakery called Lalos in the 15th arrondissement. Its owner Frederick Lalos won the prestigious title of Mellieur Ouvrier de France in the bakery section at the age of 26, so is a serious baker.

Amuse-bouche was a smoked salmon and horseradish mousse with extremely fine julienne of radish as a garnish. This was a lovely example of classical cookery, the mousse having lovely light texture with deep flavour of smoked salmon and just enough horseradish to lift the dish but not so much as to overwhelm the salmon (19/20).

My starter of scallops came with chervil root puree, slivers of fried potato and parsley sauce. The five scallops were plump and carefully cooked, sweet though not the very finest that I have eaten. However the chervil root puree, which was reminiscent of a cross between parsnip and celeriac, was glorious (18/20 overall). Even better was ratte potato mashed and served with black truffle and egg yolk. This was a lovely rich concoction, the texture of the potatoes superb, the truffle flavor lifting the dish (19/20).

Sea bass with leeks and a cream sauce featured wild sea bass, perfectly cooked and with great flavour, the leeks every bit as impressive in their own way, tasting superb (9/10). However the dish of the night was lobster, which arrived in a transparent bowl sealed with pastry that was then cut open at the table before serving, releasing a wonderful aroma into the dining room. The lobster was perfectly tender, served with a rich seafood bisque, potatoes and chestnuts. The little potatoes had magnificent flavour, and in their own way were as good as the lobster. This was a faultless dish (20/20).

The cheese board, mainly supplied by Bernard Antony of Alsace, was in excellent condition, served with lovely fruit bread. For dessert, chocolate soufflé was as airy as you could wish, cooked evenly through and with plenty of rich chocolate flavour coming through (19/20). I couldn't resist a little theatre in the form of crepe Suzettes, a dish that according to legend was created by accident in 1895 at the Cafe de Paris in Monte Carlo by a young waiter when preparing a dessert for The Prince of Wales; the dish came too close to a flame and the brandy caught light, but the end result tasted good and so it was served up; the prince asked that the dish be named after his dining companion. Whatever the truth of the story, the ultra-thin crepes served with orange and Grand Marnier sauce certainly tasted lovely, and it was fun to watch the crepes being flambéed at the table (8/10). Coffee was excellent, served with a few petit fours that I struggled to appreciate because by this stage of the meal I was replete.

Service was as silky smooth as only top French restaurants seem to be able to deliver, topping up perfect, the waiters friendly. The bill came to a little matter of €409 (£347) per person, but that included some serious wine. If you opted for a modest wine then a realistic expectation of spend would be around €260 (£220) a head. Still hardly cheap, but you are getting for that a glorious exhibition of classical French cooking. Michelin thinks this worthy of only two stars now, but there are plenty of worse three star restaurants in the world (and in France) than this. Taillevent is exactly how I remember it from a visit fifteen years ago, and I hope it will be just the same in fifteen years’ time.  

Further reviews: 01st Jul 1998

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  • Graham

    I ate here Spring 2017. My third visit, but the first without Vrinat. We ate off the menu, and since there were Spring asparagus featured we chose those. They also advised pairing Dagueneau wines with these dishes. The whole experience was quite flat, The wines rather over priced and not that interesting. Poor food pairings. The food was OK (not good enough for 700 euros for 2). The service far from perfect. This experience was the exact opposite of previous visits. It was my birthday and I had told this when I reserved and arrived, but that did not matter as there was not a even flicker of humanity in acknowledging that!

  • Keith s>

    On the whole, a serious disappointment. The welcome, ambience, service and wine were all fine. But the food failed to match the rest of it, and in an allegedly major restaurant it was about as bad as things can be. One of our entrees, a cress puree with a ring of caviar, was impressive, but apart from that things were at best prosaic. I started with Boudin d'Homard, which was a bland boudin, a unimpressive lobster bisque and a piece of lobster tail which was overcooked. I followed this with Canard de Dombes, which was a piece of duck breast with a nice but hardly stunning citron sauce. The duck itself was overcooked, poor in flavour and distinctly chewy. My companion's lamb baked in salt was equally chewy. Desserts were OK but no more. What on earth was wrong at Taillevent? Possibly this: we were there on February 26th, which is slap in the middle of the French winter holiday. Although its not like Paris in August, nevertheless the city tends to be a bit dead at this time. The restaurant was less than half full (on a Friday evening). It occurred to us that maybe the kitchen's A team was away, and that some of the reserves were being given a run out. If that was the case, then they don't deserve another game. Be that as it may, this meal did nothing to justify the reputation of the restaurant.

  • Michel P.

    The finest of them all. I'll return anytime. The best cellar,the finest food to go with, a discrete and so professional service, a warm décor: in five words: excellence in gastronomy. Coming from the S. hemisphere, it is like going from the stone age to the21 St Century

  • Papillon

    Taillevent was my first "three star" experience in Paris. I must admit I felt a little nervous dining at such an institution. My experience was made unique and memorable thanks to one man: Monsieur Jean-Claude Vrinat, owner and manager of Taillevent and son of the founder. He was the most gracious of hosts who made everyone feel at home at Taillevent. Mr Vrinat sadly passed away earlier this year. His daughter, Valerie Vrinat, has taken over and I am happy to report that she is doing exceedingly well at keeping the high standards upheld by her father. Taillevent simply blew me away the instant I walked into the dining-room. The setting is simply stunning, a perfect blend of modernity and tradition. The cooking was faultless on each of my numerous visits. The service, the sommeliers have always struck the right balance between being highly professional and relaxed. I have taken several guests at Taillevent. It never failed to impress. It has come under heavy criticism recently, even losing its valuable third star. Don't let this deter you. I like to think a gastronomic experience is a combination of the hospitality you receive, the setting in which you dine and of course what you eat and drink. On all these levels Taillevent is pure class.

  • Ivan Klugman

    I photograph food all over the world. I just dined at Taillevent.I can say that is still is truly still one of the finest restaurants for food and service. I have just stumbled on to your website and love it.Your reviews are blunt,amusing and deadly accurate.My website is being upgraded this week but I'd be honored if you visted WWW.thephotogourmet.com Thanks Ivan klugman

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