An American friend spends part of each year in Paris, and when he is there his rule is to lunch at Taillevent each and every Friday. A worthy goal, I say! This was one of the first Michelin 3-star restaurants I ever visited, back in the 1970’s. Over the years, the elegant, understated dining room has been our family’s choice to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, honors. Today, the club-like restaurant is as alive, alert, and up-to-date as any I know. As it always did, it provides the very definition of modern French haute cuisine. Chef Alain Solivérès and his pastry chef Matthieu Bijou make this one of the finest dining spots in the country. They both know how to update classics to modern-day tastes and expectations, working always with the finest of ingredients. Fish, shellfish, game, poultry, and meat are all treated with utmost respect. I have recreated the chef’s gorgeous crab rémoulade, sweet and delicately seasoned crab topped with a crown of colorful and crunchy radish rounds, though I know that I could never duplicate his lobster boudin, an Asian-inspired lobster sausage bathed in a delicate cream with a touch of caviar. On my last visit, he wowed me with flower-like tartare of fresh sea scallops topped with a nice hit of Asian herbs, followed by ultra-tender venison fillets served with a melting, warm touch of foie gras. The accompanying autumn vegetables – beets, turnips, and parsnips – could have been a meal on their own. In winter months, black truffles reign here, with a creamy risotto of Provencal epeature (spelt) topped with a crown of truffles (PHOTO); a magical lièvre à la royale, fashioned into a rich, fragrant, perfectly seasoned terrine studded with truffles and served with a well-matched saffron-sauced pasta; and an outgrageous portion of smooth and buttery potato mousseline showered with minced truffles and a golden egg yolk. Save plenty of room for Bijou’s dessert creations: I dream of his super-perfect chocolate tart (the thinnest of crusts, the most ethereal chocolate), while his vanilla millefeuille has to be one of the lightest and flakiest in Paris. One cannot dine here without regretting the absence of perhaps the city’s greatest restaurateur of modern times, Jean-Claude Vrinat. We will always miss him. Jean-Marie Ancher, long Vrinat’s right-hand man, carries on with absolute attention and care, while the extensive wine list remains one of the glories of the establishment.
TAILLEVENT, 15 rue Lamennais, Paris 8 Tel: +33 1 44 95 15 01 Métro: George V or Charles de Gaulle-Étoile
Lunch: 82€ & 195€ menu. A la carte 120-260€ Dinner: 195€ menu. A la carte 120-260€