101 Porte Berger (1)
When history makes comparisons of the destruction of artistic monuments, ISIS will have competitors. Pennsylvania Station in New York City and the Les Halles market in Paris each represent official cases. In the name of urban progress, Madison Square Garden and the crime scene below now called Penn Station, and the underground Forum retail shopping center in Paris which replaced Les Halles were respectively destroyed and rebuilt. Unlike New York City which periodically announces its latest new plan, in Paris a modern successor of parks and retail has already opened between the old Bourse on the end and the great Saint-Eustache Cathedral along the side, the excavated underground complex covered by a contemporary glass canopy with new shops, restaurants and cafes opening steadily. It proves to be a vast improvement.
The Alain Ducasse organization has seized the initiative and opened Champeaux; a large, modern, well-designed, carefully appointed, modern brasserie. It serves continuously day to night from a simple, well-chosen, moderately priced traditional menu organized in a way which allows a conventional meal or lighter grazing. For what it is, it is very good and already quite popular – effectively full on our first visit on a Sunday night in October.
Large, relatively moderate wine list with bottles, carafes and glasses. A train station arrivals board fills one wall announcing a revolving list of specials.
Sections of the menu dedicated to crus (salmon, scallop or dorade), delicious. Another devoted to steaks; 4 cuts, 3 sauce choices (béarnaise excellent) and 4 sides; frites, salad, etc., choose one.
Other traditional entrees and many courses (including beautiful roast salmon served with mango sauce). And a section of savory soufflés (cheese or lobster), in addition to dessert soufflés. We shared a wonderful, room temperature classic chocolate mousse for dessert.
Young, but professional servers order on iPhone-sized electronic devices. No paper tickets. Orders go directly to kitchen. Runners deliver food. Service friendly and attentive, if sometimes overburdened by full house, even with the all-hands on deck assistance of manager/sommelier and hostess.
2 crus, a platter of charcuterie, salmon, steak, mousse plus 4 glasses of wine, 139€ for 2.
Light on charm, strong on good food, a unique new location and an obvious professional hand behind every step along the way from conception through execution.