Recently treated to a deft and delicate restoration that perfectly reinstated its land-marked, circa 1936 Art Deco interior, this brasserie at the Hotel Plaza Athénée in Paris is one of my favourite restaurants in the capital.

Le Relais Plaza does highest quality French comfort food brilliantly and also puts on a very good show. To wit, it’s a power address that’s not only favoured by Paris’s top fashion industry brass and a quickly recognised who’s who of politicians, film stars, designers, royals and other worthies, but also attracts a beautifully dressed ‘beau monde’ clientele from all points of the compass. At this Gallic equivalent of London’s Le Caprice or New York’s Four Seasons, people politely peck the cheeks of their sworn enemies and wave at each other across the room.

The reasons the beau monde loves it are doubtless the same as mine. Under the auspices of Alain Ducasse, chef Philippe Marc cooks supremely good, simple contemporary French food, and the gallant maître d’hôtel, Werner Küchler, casts the dining room impeccably at every service.

It’s expensive, of course, but such perfectly sourced and prepared dishes as a starter salad of lamb’s lettuce (mache in French) with artichoke hearts and black truffles, or sole  meunière with potato mousseline and sautéed spinach, make it a fail-safe indulgence. The desserts are created by Christophe Michalak, one of Paris’s great pastry chefs, and the dish not to miss is ‘La Religieuse Caramel au Beurre Salé’, a sublime caramel confection.

You’ll be happiest here if you dress the part, which is to say casual-elegant.

Le Relais Plaza, 21 Avenue Montaigne, 75008 Paris. Tel: +33 1 53 67 64 00. Open daily for lunch and dinner. Average à la carte €70.

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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