8 Avenue Dutuit (8)
When 3-Star chef Yannick Alleno left the Hotel Maurice several years ago to take over the venerable, but tired Pavilion Ledoyen behind the Petit Palais along the Champs Elysses, it was big news in the food world. First reports where of mice running around the dining room. We never checked.
If true, no more. Covid must have interceded with an ambitious construction program, turning the building into three separate restaurants with three kitchens; the Alleno 3-Star, a 2-Star sushi space and the new Pavyllon, a ground floor space which combines an enclosed garden terrace and a completely open kitchen separated from the dining room by a 30 seat counter,. What a show! What exceptional food and service! What prices! Pavyllon received its first star after three months. On its merits, more should be coming.
The facility, space, concept and theater are rarely equaled in Paris. Two set menus, five courses or seven, plus a la carte. The most welcoming, sincere, attentive and professional service we have ever encountered in Paris at a restaurant at this level.
The five course, at 145€, mussels with a light glaze, steamed cheese soufflé with celery root foam, a tempura pike fish with tarter sauce, grilled breast and legs of quail, a Lebanese wafer of nuts over delicate ice cream. House made bread, Bordier butter. A 3-Star wine list with matching prices. Even the coat check delivered a level of service we have never experienced before. And, twelve chefs performing from start to finish in front of us.
In the spirit of full disclosure, one discordant note: the young (Italian) sommelier was friendly, charming and solicitous. His 5th day on the job, but with an impressive resume. He offered a glass of champagne and responded when I asked about a red wine to complement the meal. (He made no mention of a wine pairing offer I had not seen, 73€ per person (for a 145€ menu). His first recommendation: 590€. He got as low as 290€, when I caved and agreed. It was a wonderful wine, but the experience left a deeply bitter taste, both because of the offensive pressure and cost, and because it was so strongly unusual and inappropriate.
We loved the food and the restaurant, nonetheless. We may have been tourists, but I have been eating across France at 3-Star restaurants since the 1970’s (my first was in 1963 – La Tour d’Argent – See 5th). I’ve kept most of the checks as souvenirs. Not one time did I experience what I did that night. It is rude and unprofessional, even after first, responding what should have been obvious, “I don’t want to spend that much.” As they say: “Just say no”!
Our second visit, and an opportunity to reframe our view.
This is dinner theater in super luxury surroundings within a 3-Star Michelin culture (the 3-Star Ledoyen upstairs, from which this new, more casual counter and garden space was carved out). Don’t think about the garden. You are coming here for the theater of the counter, a fully open real kitchen with real cooks preparing a four or seven course meal (135€ or 245€), plus more expensive a la carte. The food is quite good, ambitious and complex, but not 3-Star. What is unique is to watch a real kitchen in action, and it is not all ballet. There is a hierarchy, a chorus (“yes chef”), some running for ingredients, furious activity, many bare hands, a glove rarely in sight. Service is friendly and bilingual. Wine service has bias to higher prices, but no resistance to pushback. For us, the theater is the lure. The food alone is not special enough to justify the prices. The combination is.
(3X) (2021 – 2022)