What happens at Ducasse stays at Ducasse, even if you try to write it down. There’s something terrifying about going through the doors of this gastronomic restaurant in the Plaza Athénée.
At the planned time for lunch, 1 pm, the fear had nothing to do with the 3 Michelin stars, but stemmed from a shoe which one feared was poorly polished, or from the impressive gentility of the dining room; Patrick Jouin impressed us less at the Mandarin Oriental, but his brand identity is clearly there, from the design of the room to the seats positioned beneath chandeliers which resemble a rain shower of Swarovski crystals. There is a full team, as many of them as there are customers: “Bonjour, Madame, may I take your coat… ?”
We went for the Collection Menu (4 half portions, cheeses and dessert). The team is experienced, combining courtesy and a sense of humor in a way that sets the tone.
The wine selection at Alain Ducasse
We found looking at the wine list intimidating. Prices made of 3 and 4 figures, and very big names. We finally unearthed some bottles at €60-70 from amongst the 1000 choices which Alain Ducasse offers at the Plaza Athénée, and we went for a nice bottle of Saint-Emilion (70 euros).
Product is king at the Plaza Athénée
For the 10 years that the Alain Ducasse restaurant has been in Plaza Athénée, the emphasis has been on “back to basics”. Thus the chef, Christophe Saintagne, works primarily towards a product, “with nothing superfluous” (make it good, keep it simple, with less showing-off). Some dishes are the restaurant’s star turns, such as chilled prawns with caviar. The rest change with the season.
For the first appetizer, a bouquet of shrimps sautéed in half-salted butter, devoured with good slices of toast. After a slice of Auvergne ham with swordfish as a second appetizer, we begin the ‘official’ meal with the chilled prawns with gold caviar, the restaurant’s famous must-try.
The Crayfish Bisque arrives, sliding into the mouth, creamy and smooth. I, meanwhile, taste my Vegetables and Fruit. The way they cook a simple carrot gives it an exceptional flavor.
When a dish makes you want to cry …
it’s rare, and that’s what the lobster with sea apples did.
Our emotional state continued with the Spicy Lamb with Chard and the Roast Chicken with ceps (which we would have liked a little softer). A delight.
Nicolas Berger’s desserts
The Alain Ducasse restaurant at the Plaza Athénée has its own patissier, the chef Nicolas Berger, who concocted the desserts which follow: the Baba au Rhum comme à Monte-Carlo lets you gorge yourself on homemade whipped cream, and you can select your own rum, before falling on the raspberry tartlets … their pastry is made using olive oil!
Then the Noisette arrives, a hazelnut dessert in three parts: soufflé, sorbet and gateau (three textures, three different temperatures) with rows of figs wrapped in leaves.
Lastly, a trolley is brought to our table, with sorbets, chocolates, caramels and marshmallows! Suffice it to say that we left at 5 pm, exhausted and delighted.
Sex & the City Verdict
A 3-star gastronomic restaurant in a 5-star hotel, which doesn’t put a foot wrong. When are we going back?
So, how painful in the end?
380€ per person for one menu Collection. We had a 70€ bottle of wine… but for that kind of experience and products, that’s just a one time thing you should try out when you can
Restaurant Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée
25 avenue Montaigne 75008 Paris
Lunch on thursday and friday
Dinner from monday to Saturday
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