20, rue Saint Martin (4)
Beautiful bistro décor, including a new, small third dining room which looks as if it was always there. Front room still best. (They used to sit the French there, Americans in the back. Ducasse ownership may have changed that.) Calls itself a bistro. Maybe. Some traditional items remain on the relatively limited menu. At best, a luxury bistro, with prices to match. At lunch, a 38€ menu. Three choices for three courses. No one would mistake this for a chef-owned and managed address, but the Ducasse organization is no ordinary commercial chain.
After 4 years, a return to Benoit. Refined, beautifully executed versions of what may have once been bistro dishes, but are no longer. Benoit becomes two restaurant concepts within one, both successful: a beautiful and beautifully maintained bistro décor with an Alain Ducasse-level execution of historical bistro dishes (pate en croute, calf’s head, asparagus with sauce mousseline), all at very high Alain Ducasse prices.
Terrific food which would be equally at home in a 2-star establishment. Every dish carefully plated. Subtle flavors.
The pate en croute is laced with foie gras, the sauce mousseline with truffles. 28€ and 44€, respectively (5 asparagus spears!).
Our main course, on the menu forever, rolled dover sole with sauce nantua (crayfish). Superb, at 52€.
Good, attentive service. Bilingual.
Professional wine service.
Charmless, but efficient, except sommelier and manager, who attempted to bridge the problem inherent in so many corporate group restaurants, even those characterized by a culinary pedigree the equal of Ducasse. There is no owner in the kitchen, and no owner or owner’s wife (or husband – see Yam’Tcha, our single favorite restaurant in the 1st Arr.) in the front, one notices.
Prices high, even with a choice from the page of moderately priced wines at dinner, 100€ per person, easy. A fine meal, but not a bistro meal. At dinner few foreigners. At lunch, many. Formula lunch 38€.