9, Place de la Madeleine (8)
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.
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.
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.
45€ for 3 courses. Reasonable wines by the glass from a short list. For full bottles, the main wine list virtually all 3 digits.