Lamennais, 8th. 01.56.21.22.00. Metro Charles de Gaulle-Etoile.
Open : Mon-Fri noon-2pm, 7h30-10pm. Closed August. Average : 110
Euros. Credit : Amex,
DC, MC, V. Wheelchair access.
ascension of chef Alain
Soliveres, formerly of Les Elysées, to the kitchens of a
restaurant widely considered to be among the top ten in the world is
quite simply a brilliant success : it's been ages since we enjoyed a
meal as much as we did our recent lunch at Taillevent. Even the
company of blasé bankers and other lucky dogs who might be
described as regulars couldn't numb our constant, quite pleasure at the
setting, service and most of all the food. Soliveres has a lusty style,
but he always remains tantalizingly in control, with an astonishing
ability to concentrate flavour. The amuse-bouche that began our
meal - cauliflower cream with a buttery, faintly poultry nuanced jus,
was absolutely brilliant. Tipping his toque at his own past - he's a
native of Montpellier and his reputation has so far been based on a
stunning ability to reinvent the cooking of southern France - he
produced three plump scallops topped with a miniature dice of Lucca
olives, chorizo and parmesan and garnished with tender leaves of
dandelion and rocket : a brilliant starter. His mastery of the
more traditional dishes that are the bedrock of the menu here is
impressive, too, as seen in a creamy soup of ratte potatoes from
Noirmoutier ladled over a dainty sauté of shelled crayfish. A
seasonal suggestion was a long strip of tuna bell, immaculately cooked
so that the firm texture of the fish played off of its own almost
buttery richness, served with an elegant tangle os Espelette peppers,
lemon, capers and serrano ham. Sea bass in shellfish jus with a few
tiny clams and raw and braised artichokes, from the a la carte menu,
was pleasant, but a little underwhelming in comparison. Similarly, the
dessert list will have to be thoroughly revised to play to Soliveres'
style. Jean-Pierre Vrinat, one of the world's great restaurateurs, was
thoroughly charming host.