The red carpet is out for Guy Savoy all over the city of Paris. With his new restaurant celebrating an official opening Tuesday, May 19th, this three-star chef and his almost giddy staff are luxuriating in their new sunlit home inside the 6th arrondissement Hotel de Monnaie de Paris along the Seine. With no less than five dining rooms boasting huge windows, the restaurant overlooks tall shimmering chestnut trees, the Seine, out onto the Louvre, Pont Neuf, the Île de la Cite. and beyond.
For Savoy, 62, the adventure and the dream began in 2009, when he visited the oldest institution and oldest factory in France, the French mint. He bid, and won a chance to move his 17th- arrondissement restaurant on rue Troyon to the mint. Construction proceeded more slowly than anticipated, since asbestos was found in the structure and needed to be eliminated. Today, the restaurant sits on the top floor, with spacious kitchens just below, sporting welcoming windows with the same bright view as Savoy’s diners.
One enters the august, newly renovated space walking regally up the red-carpeted stairs decorated with medallions and laurel wreaths. Dining rooms are warm and cozy, in colors of brown and anthracite with touches of modern lighting, all fully respectful of a building founded in 1864 and rebuilt in the 20th century.
Two “soft-landing” preview lunches in the new dining rooms attest that Savoy’s food remains on the same steady course he has followed since first opening in Paris in 1977, achieving his third Michelin star in 2002. Guests will find many of his signature dishes, such as the landmark soupe d’artichaut à la truffe noir et brioche feuilletée aux champignons et truffes (a masterpiece that marries earth with earth, the earthy flavors of artichokes and the wild mushroom essence of the truffle, embellished with an unforgettable mushroom brioche brushed with fragrant truffle butter). His famed huîtres en nage glacée never fails to excite or delight, nudging the briny, iodine-rich essence of oyster to new heights as a mildly creamy oyster puree lines the oyster shell as the real deal sits atop it like a king. A spoonful of jelly created with the oyster liquid tops it all for a celebratory hit of oyster heaven.
Savoy constantly works to capture the essence of an ingredient and bring it to your palate: His pea soup, made with peeled peas (!) and a puree of that regal vegetable, topped with a soft-cooked quail egg, blends on the palate with intensity and clean, welcoming, spring flavors.
And there are new dishes --- such as salmon “cooked” on dry ice at the table – with the fresh, brilliant strips of salmon embellished by an avalanche of varied citrus, including lemon, lime, and the rare Australian caviar citron, sporting little, citrus-flavored beads that look just like the caviar of our dreams.
Savoy’s masterful pastry chef, Christian Boudard, has outdone himself with spring desserts: In one, rhubarb is sliced paper-thin and dried to bring out its brilliant flavors, molded in the shape of onion skin, which serves as a perfect vessel for his vibrant rhubarb sorbet. He works the same idea with this season’s strawberries, a fine sorbet, paper-thin slices of strawberries, dried to bring us its very soul.
Do not forget Sylvain Nicolas, Savoy’s sommelier, a man I trust with my wine life! He has never steered me wrong, visit after visit. Discoveries at a recent lunch include Josmeyer’s Grand Cru Brand Riesling, 2009, a wine that is at once authoritative, regal, lively, and pure. As well, Domaine Rebourgeon-Mure’s pinot noir Pommard 1er Cru Clos des Arvelets moved everyone at the table, emerging with a purity of fruit, finesse, and expression of delightful ripe tannins.
The Hotel de la Monnaie restaurant is not his only project for the moment. In December he opened L’Huîtrade on rue Troyon, a compact oyster bar offering some of the world’s finest oysters and oyster dishes; the former Restaurant Guy Savoy on Rue Troyon will become a fish restaurant, d’Etoie sur Mer in June of this year; and already famous for his brioche, Savoy will open a brioche boutique, Goût de Brioche, at 54 rue Mazarine, Paris 6, in June.
GUY SAVOY | Monnaie de Paris | 11 quai de Conti | Paris 6 | Tel: +33 1 44 80 40 61 | Métro: Pont Neuf | Open Tuesday to Saturday, closed Saturday lunch, Sunday, and Monday | www.guysavoy.com | firstname.lastname@example.org | Lunch and dinner: 360€ menu, à la carte €200, not including beverages | Reservations suggested.