The New Guy Savoy

Paris -- What a joy it is to follow a career, watch a chef constantly grow, evolve, excite, create, and recreate. Guy Savoy is not someone to settle. His passion for food, his huge appetite for art, his hunger for new wines all merge seamlessly in his newest recreation, a brand new décor, concept and cuisine at the flagship restaurant that bears his name.

Open since late August, the "new" Guy Savoy retains much of what we loved about the old: service that may well be the best in Paris, wine excitement that you seldom see in even the best of establishments, and a cuisine that is 100% HIS. And each dish signed with a touch of Guy's special shade of green: The green of a giant basil leaf, the green of a thick broccoli purée, the green of a baby leek, the green of a tender artichoke.

Why is it that the first thing you put in your mouth at the beginning of a meal is so often the taste you remember the longest and love the most? The first of a series of brilliant new dishes from his new menu was the best: Imagine a clear glass soup bowl aglow in bright reds and greens, offset by clear see-through jelly that carries with it the perfumes of the sea. Tiny fillets of Mediterranean rouget (little red mullet) and meaty lisette (baby mackerel), giant leaves of basil and lipstick-red rounds of tomatoes, seem to float about in a clear sea-scented jelly - cool and smooth and refreshing - and then, plop, the waiter adds a brilliant green touch, a bright seaweed-scented sorbet. I wanted to don a swimming suit and jump in: For me, it was like the last taste of summer that I'll remember all winter long. (And the dish itself shows clearly Guy Savoy's evolution, evoking his famous oyster dish that's teamed up with a sea-scented gelatin.)

Equally exciting but marred by a heavy hand with the salt cellar was his new trio of meaty, gorgeous langoustine - those lobster-like sea creatures that have the texture of a puffy cloud - on a creamy bed of broccoli purée with tiny, crunchy broccoli flowers.

The menu offered a lovely summer-fall transition, with first of season girolles (chanterelles), and a presentation that shows off Savoy's cleverness and ability to keep things simple and sublime at the same time. He posed a mound of the tiniest, most intensely flavored mushrooms in a puddle of wild mushroom juices, topped them with a paper-thin, lace-like potato cake, then a crispy, crunchy slice of the thinnest of grilled Spanish ham.

I would kill to be able to replicate his combination of rare duck breast and seared foie gras set on a bed of baby spinach. Team this with a tiny lace-like cookie, flavored with chocolate and black pepper, and sauce made with a trio of vinegars, and you have a marriage made in heaven. Here, color, texture, aromas blend to create a composition that could become a French classic. (The dish, alas, was marred by another overdose of salt.)

Dessert was a sheer and seamless as the rest of the meal, with a creation that again asks us to pay attention to textural pleasures, with great contrasts of smooth and crunchy: A lovely apple compote dotted with crunchy bits of chestnut, embellished with paper-think slices of dried apples.

The décor of the new room is sophisticated, harmonious, warm, and comfortable. Warm woods, cozy touches of leather, abbreviated use of stone come together to create what Savoy calls "an auberge for the 21st century."

Guy Savoy
18 rue Troyon
Paris 75017
Tel: 01 43 80 36 22
Fax: 01 46 22 43 09
Closed Saturday lunch and Sunday. All major credit cards. 980-franc menu. A la carte 800 francs, including service but not wine.