Put on your highest heels, your tightest and shortest black dress, your biggest diamond studs and reserve a table at Règle de Je(u), the newest table of Jean-Francois Piège, ex-Crillon, les Ambassadeurs, Louix XV, and Plaza Athenée. Don’t rush to put on those heels for you may have to wait in line for a table at this tiny, 20-seat dining room. But the wait is worth it. Pretty much.
Piège, like so many major French chefs before him, starting with Joel Robuchon, decided to ditch the suffocating Michelin Three Star drama and make himself up. He shed some pounds, made up his own space, and recreated what he calls a restaurant. Bravo! I am all for it, though we as diners pay a little price in the experiment. Nothing is perfect. But before I go into detail, I have to say that Piège’s food is some of the prettiest and most ethereal I have tasted in a long time and I can’t wait to dig deeper into his repertoire.
Days later I still have great memories of the dreamy lunch at his table. The restaurant is called Règle de Je(u) or Rules of the Game, with a play on words that easily translates at Rules of My Game. It’s unique. The place, a Hollywoodesque setting on the second floor with an unsigned speakeasy-like entrance on the Rue Saint-Dominique may not be for everyone. You’re seated at plush banquettes, the waitstaff is as slim and tall (and as accommodating) as they come, and there is no menu, just a list of ingredients of the day. You choose as many as you wish, by price. That day’s list of ingredients included Caviar, Coquilles Saint-Jacques, Langoustines, Bar de Ligne, Boeuf, Ris de Veau. 1 ingredient is 70 euros, 2 ingredients 90 euro, 3 ingredients 115 euro, and 3 ingredients with wine, 165 euro. Not cheap.
But each menu includes a generous and beautiful selection of starters, and of course dessert. The wine list is as extensive as any palate, expertise, or budget could imagine.
So what did we eat and what did we love? Best taste of the day was his huge serving of langoustines with a pungent and delicious kaffir lime-based sauce paired with a rectangle of and perfectly seared foie gras. Fabulous and gorgeous. Equally flavorful and beautiful was the carpaccio of beef with a criss-cross of parmesan cream (PHOTO). A delight!
I was much less enthused by the beautiful but bland sea bass paired with wild mushrooms and the seared beef from Chili that, I am sorry, was nicely cooked but so tough as to be inedible.
But I applaud Piège’s ability to create a new idea of what a restaurant can be. Piège seems relaxed and at home, working the room with smiles, in blue-jean casual, with a clientele that seems happy and at home. To be continued!