Credit: Jacques Gavard

With the recent opening of Hexagone, young chef Mathieu Pacaud, the son of Bernard Pacaud of the triple Michelin-starred L’Ambroisie in the Marais, has woken up the generally staid restaurant scene in well-heeled western Paris with a younger, livelier restaurant than the neighbourhood has seen in a long time. And the reasons for his choice are pragmatic.

“The work day has evolved in Paris so that executives no longer have time to travel at noon,” says the chef. “Instead, they want to eat near their offices, so I decided that with a reliable lunch trade at noon and a large number of hotels in the neighbourhood for the evening, the 16th arrondissement would be a propitious neighbourhood for my new table.”

He asked the stylish design team of Patrick Gilles and Dorothée Boissier to design the restaurant, and their low-key lounge look comes as a pleasant surprise, since tables are widely spaced and lighting is impeccable.

I also like the fact that you can order a tasting menu or go à la carte, since too many young Paris chefs are imposing a single menu these days. If you do go à la carte, as I did, they suggest you order four courses – a starter, a  fish course, a meat dish, and dessert. The portions are meted out to make this a comfortable meal, and Pacaud’s cooking is light, vivid and brilliantly inventive.

I especially enjoyed the salad of crayfish tails on a bed of star anise-flavoured aspic with green mango purée and cauliflower mousseline, John Dory in a Vermouth-spiked cream sauce with cockles and razor-shell clams, and braised veal sweetbreads with black and green olives and a bright, chervil-rich herb sauce.

Adding to the pleasure of a meal there is the spectacular selection of grand cru wines, which are available by the glass, and the service is precise and good humoured. Pacaud plans to open a ‘gastronomic laboratory’ restaurant at the same address later this year and he’ll also be launching a seafood restaurant, so this ambitious and highly talented young chef is very much a rising young Turk on the Parisian culinary scene.

Hexagone, 85 avenue Kléber, 75016 Paris. Tel: +33 1 42 25 98 85. Open daily for lunch and dinner. Closed Mondays. Lunch menu €49. Average four-course à la carte €175. Tasting menu €180.

Based in Paris, restaurant columnist Alexander Lobrano has published a new book, Hungry for France, along with a new edition of his popular Hungry for Paris. Find these books and more in our bookstore.

From France Today magazine

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Alexander Lobrano
Alexander Lobrano grew up in Connecticut, and lived in Boston, New York and London before moving to Paris, his home today, in 1986. He was European Correspondent for Gourmet magazine from 1999 until its closing, and has written about food and travel for Saveur, Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Guardian, Travel & Leisure, Departures, Conde Nast Traveler, and many other publications in the United States and the United Kingdom. He is the author of HUNGRY FOR PARIS, 2nd Edition (Random House, 4/2014), HUNGRY FOR FRANCE (Rizzoli, 4/2014), and MY PLACE AT THE TABLE, newly published in June 2021.

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