8th Arrondissement

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Akrame

7, rue Tronchet (8)
Tel:  01-40-67-11-16

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

This is a very small, very expensive, very special restaurant.  Tasting menu only, 6 course or 9 at dinner.  No choice except for meat course (beef, squab or sweetbreads).  Very small portions, each served and plated with whimsy and complete originality.  But that is just the food part of the story.

Steps from the Etoile, walk into what looks like the cocktail lounge, greeted by black-clad hostess.  It is the restaurant.  That is all there is.  Nine tables, 20 or so guests, maximum.  Open kitchen.  The hostess is one of four servers, all of whom, taking their cues from the extroverted young chef, bring humor and infectious informality to their work.  That spirit animates the restaurant, making what could be a somber temple to 2-star cuisine into a relaxed, enjoyable experience.  Until the check!


As of Fall, 2017, new address, new space. Now in the 8th. Not yet reopened.

FOOD

Extraordinary, unique.  Small portions, some with multiple sub-courses.  Yet not an over-filling meal, preceded by 5 separate amuse-bouche (hors d’oeuvres).  Several courses characterized by humor.  A lobster tail appears in a specimen jar.  Out comes a teapot.  Ginger broth is poured over, left 3 minutes, then extracted with tweezers and placed in a bowl over mussels and seaweed.  Delicate red mullet served with crispy quinoa over Greek yogurt.  Squab breast roasted in chocolate beans, dug out from a covered terrine.  Clever, but in every course, great food.

SERVICE

Polished-looking, but unpolished – and intentionally so according to the chef.  Unlike so many equally accomplished Paris counterparts, not possible to feel intimidated or out of place.  They do their jobs well, but serve as the deliberate spirit-lifters of the restaurant.

PRICE

High, but fair.  So-called 6 course had 14 separate services, 130€.   Four course 100€.  Appropriate wine list.  Our choice 110€.  With coffee, aperitifs, 435€.  Not an everyday experience, but without equal in the U.S.

(1x) (2015)

Camondo (Le)

61 Bis Rue de Monceau (8)
Tel: 01-45-63-40-40

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

This is a Paris restaurant guide, not a tour guide. That said, The Museum Nissim de Camondo has always been among my favorites; for its unmatched collection of period French furniture and decorative arts, for the mansion itself, and because of the tragic history of the Camondo family and of WW II in France which it reveals. I write “reveals”, because like so much of the modern history of French Jews, there is an ambiguity in the telling of that story, which is not what the Museum is meant to be about.

In any case, Le Camondo opened in early Fall, 2017 in the former carriage house/garage and garden of the mansion. In no way is it a museum restaurant. It is an upscale, stand-alone restaurant housed in what was an unused section of the Park Monceau mansion which houses the decorative arts collection.

That there is only a la carte at lunch suggests its uncompromising ambition. We ate inside. If that was all there was to it, we might not make a special effort to return but on a beautiful spring day the private garden would make the effort worthwhile.

The inside room is spacious and very high-ceilinged, as befitting a carriage house, and comfortable in every way, but the garden is quite special.

FOOD

Complex. Modern. Many ingredients. Not tweezer food, but over-thought, overworked and untraditional.

Confit of tuna over cold cucumber sauce with bits of bean, Spanish ham, lightly boiled egg in a round of crabmeat. Filet of bass with celery root puree and foam; cuttlefish (like squid), scallops, belotta ham and guacamole. All quite tasty, but overwrought and more modern than our taste.

SERVICE

Attentive. Bilingual.

PRICES

A la carte only. With water, coffee and one glass of wine, 128€. Not cheap in a city where 30€ – 40€ two course lunches are routinely available.

(1x) (2017)

 

(Photo from “Trip Advisor”)

Chez Andre

12, rue Marbeuf (8)
Tél: 01-47-20-59-57

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Located close to the grand hotels, so a popular recommendation of concierges. Looks right. Friendly service. Bustling. All good – until presented with an English menu – missing the insert with the daily specials.

FOOD

Good if not memorable. Plat du jour merits attention. Convenient for the neighborhood, but not worth a special journey.

SERVICE

Friendly. Fast (too fast?). Efficient.

PRICE

A la Carte. Medium

(2X) (2010-2015)

Chiberta (Le)

3, rue Arsène Houssaye (8)
Tel: 01-53-53-42-00

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

A rare excursion to the more commercial, more touristy Etoile neighborhood to 3- star chef Guy Savoy’s second restaurant for a 49€ formula lunch. Worth the trip. Plush, modern, serene, widely spaced tables. Largely businessmen. Perfect, proper service preceded by a telephone call asking to reconfirm our reservation. Plates right out of a coffee table cookbook, but with taste to match. As noted elsewhere in this diary, Michelin stars are not random. Why this is one versus two isn’t obvious, but the experience is professional and finessed in every way.

FOOD

Inventive, modern food. Large shrimp in tempura-like batter over vegetables, cream of artichoke soup with melting parmesan slivers, veal tenderloin and breast in a rich a jus, chocolate grenache with chocolate sherbet. Lunch required an immediate nap.

SERVICE

Service was professional, practiced and fully bilingual, but restrained. No intimidation.

PRICE

A la Carte. Medium Another case of expensive celebration restaurant with a “bargain” lunch. Not an everyday experience, but a memorable one.

(1x) (2011)

Grand Restaurant (Le)

7 rue d’Aguesseau (8)
Tel: 01-53-05-00-00

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Diary policy is a restaurant cannot become a “Favorite” on the basis of a single visit.  Policy honored, but the risk is Le Grand Restaurant will no longer offer an 80€ lunch, or that its 30 or so seats will become impossible to book.  You’ve been warned, assuming you would consider this seven month old Michelin 2-Star, surely determined to become more.  Its chef carried his previous stars with him from the 7th, now in a beautiful modern space of his own.

Open kitchen in front with a window on the small rue d’Aguesseau steps from the American Embassy.  If you cannot book, look through the window.  10 cooks led by Jean Francois Piege, reportedly there for every service.

The size and refinement leads to comparison to Astrance, but the food, while also modern, is less intellectual and more derivative of a three course meal (expanded to 5 or 6, or more with extras).


So good at lunch in May, we returned for a birthday dinner in October. 195€/person for a magnificent dinner, plus wines. Appropriate for a very special occasion. Post-terrorism, seats available. A modern take on classic high-end food, service, helpful wine selections for the price-conscious.

FOOD

The lunch allows a choice, fish (yellowtail) or meat (roasted sweetbreads), preceded by three exquisite bites, a first course of roasted celery root slices which on the plate resembles a baked apple, in morille sauce, followed by three desserts, followed by a chocolate surprise which you must be there to experience.  Plus extensive a la carte and two tasting menus.

In a city populated by numerous high-end restaurants, this merits real distinction.

SERVICE

Formal, friendly, gracious, bilingual, completely friendly.

PRICES

80€ becomes 238€ for two with three glasses of wine and overpriced coffee and tea.  Two hours but not three, and worth the experience.

(2x) (2016)

Helen

3, rue Berryer (8)
Tel:  01-40-76-01-40

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

I have written elsewhere in this Diary that high-quality, wild-caught seafood is very expensive in Paris, as it has become worldwide. There is plenty of fish available, but the handful of top choice fish specialists is a pricey group. Helen, a three year old restaurant staffed from the similarly themed Le Duc, is no exception, except it offers a 48€ lunch, not normally a bargain except within this category.

In most ways it is a perfect Paris restaurant; smallish (50 seats), impeccable food; approachable, but perfect service; a broad a la carte menu; and the special lunch. It does not disappoint.

FOOD

From the menu, three choices for each course; raw salmon with horseradish cream, fish soup (we would call it bisque – no cream), and eel. For plats, scallops or rouget simply prepared, or pasta with fish sauce. Torte, sherbet or pastry for dessert. Plus a few extras, including spinach and mashed potatoes served with the scallops, prepared with equal care. A great meal.

Dinner is a different matter, not only is it more expensive – geometrically so, and all a la carte – the menu is slightly confusing and hard to navigate although the staff is genuinely attentive and helpful. The food was excellent, the preparations perfect, but the ambiance was different – more formal and somber. Even aside from the staggering cost, I preferred lunch.

SERVICE

Proper. Bilingual. Deft. (Many other tables ordered a la carte. Waiters boned and plated the fish with surgical skill.)

PRICES

48€ is not a bargain, especially when three glasses of wine, coffee, etc. bring the bill to 157€. Still, we will return – for lunch. Not as quickly for dinner.

(2x) (2016)

Lasserre

17, avenue Franklin Roosevelt (8)
Tel: 01-43-59-53-43

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

I ate at Lasserre once before, with my family in 1966. My father reveled in the name association.

Fast forward 45 years. It remains an elegant, memorable experience; fine food, luxurious and beautiful soundings, a corps of serving staff from uniformed doorman to liveried elevator attendant who delivers you one floor up to a tuxedoed maitre d’. Sommeliers and waiters with tails and runners in starched white jackets carrying large silver trays navigate generously spaced tables and rolling carts. An experience from another era – and it may have been in 1966. But unlike La Tour D’Argent (see 5th), while historic and with some appeal, Lasserre is something of a relic. Lasserre is full at a Thursday Christmas season lunch, 90% French and unfazed by astonishing prices, softened deceptively by a special lunch menu of three courses for 80€.

FOOD

At lunch, three choices in each category, no supplements: Sautéed fish with fall vegetables, a “ragout” of fish and shellfish with beurre blanc, daurade, sliced (tableside) veal shank, pear tartlet, chocolate pastry. All excellent, if not 3-star.

SERVICE

A ballet of swooshing tails, rolling carts, silver domes, golden utensils (for dessert). And except for a chilly receptionist downstairs, all friendly and welcoming, without a hint of condescension.

PRICE

Lunch with special menu served only Thursday and Friday. There are some less expensive wines. Do not be shy to ask for them. We didn’t. A 30€ glass of red wine, 12€ coffee and 12€ tea moved the check into a different category, but still way below a la carte dinner, offering a 195€ “chef surprise” six course tasting menu.

(1x) (2012)

Lazare

rue Interieure (8)
Inside Gare St. Lazare
Tel:  01-44-90-80-80

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

There exists a vast body of empirical evidence that in high-end restaurants, execution is usually not scalable. It is difficult for an accomplished chef to be in two kitchens at once. And patrons want to know he/she is there. So chefs develop alternative concepts and attempt to train and hire teams which embody their approach. Sometimes it works (Alain Ducasse – see Benoit 4th, Aux Lyonnais 2nd, Allard 6th), sometimes it doesn’t (see Terrior Parisien 5th and now a second location in the 2nd).

Eric Frechon, 3-star chef at the Hotel Bristol, has successfully reimagined the railroad station all-day service brasserie inside the Gare St. Lazare. And he has hit a home run.

Large, beautifully designed contemporary space with three seating areas; tables for four, a round copper bar for walk-ins, and two high tables each seating eight facing the busy, well staffed open kitchen. Good theater.

Diverse, unusually presented menu and wine list. Careful management and attentive service, and fair a la carte prices combine to make a winning combination.

FOOD

Deviled eggs with crab and tuna, mussels (offered as a lower priced entrée), and seven hour lamb over bulgar made a large, delicious meal. Good, but not great dessert of large crepe beggar’s purse enclosing sautéed apples in a caramel sauce. Wine by the glass (for us) at very reasonable prices.

SERVICE

Friendly, surprisingly professional and attentive, overseen by real management. In all, a smooth functioning team, all the more surprising because Lazare opened only three months ago, in October, 2013.

PRICE

This is neither haute cuisine nor high-end dining, notwithstanding its 3-star pedigree. Yet at a very slow Christmas week Saturday night, the few St. Lazare commuters were squeezed out by Parisiens with reservations, all attracted by fair a la carte prices (140€ for two) in a well- designed, expensively done physical space and good, carefully prepared food.

(1x) (2013)

Lucas Carton

9, Place de la Madeleine (8)
Tel: 01-42-65-56-66

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Lucas-Carton has a very long and distinguished history.

In modern times it was a 3 Star restaurant, first as classic and traditional in an era when the chef stayed in the kitchen and worked without rock star celebrity. In the 1980’s, 3-Star chef Alain Senderens moved his L’Archestrate into the Lucas-Carton space (with the L’Archestrate space becoming Arpege). That lasted through a disastrous architectural “modernization”, with Senderens eventually renouncing his Michelin stars and walking off the competitive field.

Now a new incarnation of the venerable location, a young chef and a concept for 2 restaurants within one, an ambitious, expensive a la carte downstairs restaurant in the large museum-like art nouveau main rooms (worth visiting on its design merits alone), and a 45€ short “market menu” in a smaller upstairs room, which is what we reserved.

It was the night following the 3 day Easter weekend. Not much business. So the upstairs room was closed. We were seated in the exquisite 1902 dining room with a picture window view of the Madeleine Cathedral, with the 45€ menu. We may have been the only such ones among the 8-10 occupied tables. What luck, in combination with a finely cooked meal, replete with finesse characteristic of much more refined and expensive food.

FOOD

The menu needed sorting out. Three courses from a concise menu offering 4 choices in each category, but with several items changed, as explained by the waiter, probably reflecting the slow night.

What we ate was exquisite, although the portions were small.

Asparagus with grapefruit, beef in a rich wine sauce with a clever slice of terrine of macaroni, a chocolate dessert, barely baked clams with basil topping, parmesan gnocchi with asparagus tips, rhubarb tart. A fine meal at twice the price.

SERVICE

Perfectly adequate and friendly, but not what would be expected of the a la carte room, history, prices or ambition. Maybe a post-holiday schedule.

PRICE

45€ for 3 courses. Reasonable wines by the glass from a short list. For full bottles, the main wine list virtually all 3 digits.

(1x) (2017)

 

 

Photo from “The Fork”

Maree (La)

1, rue Daru (8)
Tel: 01-43-80-20-00

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

A longtime 2-star restaurant now under new ownership with a less ambitious and (considerably) less costly menu. Neighborhood and décor “establishment”; now slightly tired. Open kitchen. Many jackets and ties. But don’t write this off. The seafood menu and results are quite good.

FOOD

Exceptional. It may have lost its stars, but on some nights on a path to regain them.

SERVICE

Decidedly not 2 – star– or any star. Erratic, but friendly, ranges from gracious to slapdash. Needs a stronger management hand.

PRICE

A la carte prices high, but not for food of this quality, fish particularly. Best news is a formula menu: 34€ for several choices in each category from the a la carte menu. A true bargain.

(3x) (2011-2012)

Neva

2 Rue de Berne (8)
Tel: 01 45 22 18 91

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

This is a promising and deservedly well regarded restaurant in a far off corner of the 8th.  The female chef and pastry chef have strong credentials (Grand Cascade; see 16th), and it shows in the food.  The problem is the room.  A fairly large space with places for 45 or so.  So when it is less than 1/3 full, as it was at a Monday night dinner, any energy is dissipated.  And with a staff geared to more demand, the food comes too quickly.

FOOD

Choices of each of three courses; wonderful, rich gnocchi or marinated tuna with fennel salad; roasted cod or grilled veal rump steak.  A sophisticated chocolate dessert (a perfect sphere of chocolate, hot chocolate sauce poured over it which melts a hole in the top, revealing cooked pears and ice cream!)

SERVICE

Not unfriendly, but distracted, part of the missing energy.

PRICES

44€ for three very good courses.  We shared dessert, so 38€ for one dinner.  With four glasses of wine, water and coffee 118€.

(1x) (2016)

Village (Le)

25 Rue Royale (8)
Tel: 01-40-17-02-19

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

In deference to there being a paucity of listings for the 8th Arr., I offer a lunch spot around the corner from Hermes off the rue St. Honore.

In warm weather, the interior crossover between rue Royal and the parallel street is a lovely enclave of small shops, plus this Costes-owned café.  Like their hotel and other establishments, it is high on style (and price) without much soul.  For a sunny day and the opportunity to sit outside without visible traffic, it could work if you are in the neighborhood.

FOOD

Competent, with a menu which images what fashion models would like to order.

SERVICE

Bilingual. Casual.  Upscale.  Café-like.

PRICES

High for what is offered, but in a high priced neighborhood.

(1x) (2016)

Photo from “Yelp”