9, place des
Vosges, 4th. 01.42.78.51.45. Metro Bastille.
Open : Tue-Sat noon-1h30pm, 8-9h30 pm. Average : 200 Euros. Credit :
Amex, MC, V.
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.