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9, place des Vosges, 4th. Metro Bastille.
Open : Tue-Sat noon-1h30pm, 8-9h30 pm. Average : 200 Euros. Credit : Amex, MC, V.

Perhaps it's a result of the current difficulties in the luxury tourism market and a subsequent reduction in the number of staff, but there's definitely a more casual feet at l'Ambroisie. On our prior visit to this discreet townhouse in the beautiful 17th-century place des Vosges, a three-strong welcoming committee greeted us at the entrance. This time, in contrast, we even had to open the door ourselves! (this might appear a somewhat churlish comment, but when you're paying upwards of 200 euros a head for dinner, you do have certain expectations.) The truth is, service has never been the strong point here. This is a restaurant that takes itself particularly seriously (the atmosphere is somewhat reverential), but the reputation is built on Bernard Pacaud's essentially honest, direct and approachable food. when it comes to ingredients, quality is everything and there's no doubt that much of the money goes into this. Precise technique serves simply to amplify flavor, and innovation is eschewed in favor of consistency. Seasonally, too, is a cause for celebration, so late spring, for instance, brings a profusion of morels (accompanying a starter of fine ravioli, chock-full of lobster), asparagus (with mustard crusted turbot), and strawberries (an intense pre-dessert sorbet). Not everything is perfect though - an epigramme of lamb from Lozère, the saddle done as a kind of pastilla (sandwiched with foie gras, wrapped in fine pastry and deep-fried), some little chunks of the fillet and two tiny chops, lacked balanced seasoning. There are, as you might expect, no bargains on the wine list, with only one lonely bottle under 50 euros.
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