Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée

Luxury? Opulence? Alain Ducasse might have invented the word at his flagship 3-star Paris restaurant at the Hotel Plaza Athénée on the swank Avenue Montaigne. With 10,000 crystals lighting up the entire restaurant, this is probably one of the flashiest places in town and once you walk in, it is as if the whole world outside falls away.

Luxury you want? Luxury you get..for as long as the meal lasts which might make people uncomfortable if you’re not ready to sit and be provided with so much food pleasure that your stomach can’t handle it anymore. The room’s colors lie within soft clementine-colored tablecloths and cream colored chairs where customers (especially women) are treated to a seat with pullout trays for their expensive purses. The staff wear uniforms by Georges Feghlay, unique wall embroideries are signed by Patrick Jouin and a plate of langoustines with caviar from China will cost you a whopping €175 but then you get what you pay for. Come to Paris for a fancy top-notch dining experience? Alain Ducasse is the place to go.

Alain Ducasse will not be seen line-cooking in the kitchen but this is no matter as he has surrounded himself with an extremely talented, young and motivated team headed by Chef Christophe Saintagne (formerly from Le Crillon) and Sous-Chef Dominique Lory (formerly from Ducasse’s 3-Michelin star Louis XV in Monaco). Over the years, no matter the change of staff, Ducasse has proved to be a formidable tutor and judge of talent – which explains how he has more Michelin stars than anyone in the world – minus Robuchon. Originally from Normandy, Christophe Saintagne spent time with Guillaume Louet at Auberge du Vieux Logis, Conteville, and Philippe Groultat Amphyclés, Paris but also did his National Service at the Elysée Palace before joining Alain Ducasse at 59 Poincaré, and Plaza Athénée. He also cooked at Aux Lyonnais, and between 2005-2008, was with Jean-François Piège at the Hotel de Crillon. To him it’s not about showing off your technique but accentuating the natural flavor of the product, and that, is much harder to do.

This past year marked the 10th anniversary of Ducasse’s restaurant – welcoming a new concept; that of Nature and promoting the ingredients at their best and basic form; leaving it the most untouched and just accentuating the natural flavors. According to Ducasse, “the technique is here to reveal the flavor of nature. I have always done my best to tell this simple and fair story and today, I want to deliver its quintessence, at the Plaza Athénée”. Head-chef Christophe Saintagne with meticulous attention to detail, produces pure cuisine with no unnecessary ingredients; Denis Courtiade, the Manager of the Restaurant paving the way for an opulent meal filled with Champagne, a fine selection of wine, and an attentive staff at your service at all times – you’re in for an experience of your lifetime. The staff actual outnumber the number of diners (capped at 60) but they provide a seamless white-glove service with no waiters assigned to a particular table and a staff that never missteps or collide with each other).

The head Sommelier, Laurent Roucayrol picked the best wine to fit our meal: a cellar 2006 Savigny Les-Beaune-Blanc Leroy (alongside a complimentary Champagne aperitif). We had opted for a 2005 Chablis Grand Cru but he suggested something more lighter since we were all tasting very different ingredients on the Menu Collection de Printemps (in which we had the chance to change a couple of dishes)

Simple and elegant table decoration

The view inside the Cour Jardin

Croutons (with cured ham and raw seabass served on the best bread I have ever had – the baker is the best baker in France)

Bread served with Alain Ducasse-imprinted butter

Grenouilles et Sauce a l’Oseille (Frog legs with a Sorrel sauce)

The menu is divided into Héritage, three starters to choose from, Langoustines rafraîchies, caviar (from China), Pâté chaud de perdreau and Poularde Rotie, Morilles. A La Carte with a choice of market-fresh products but the most fun is the Menu Collection, four dishes, including the Héritage starters, the signature “cookpot” of lobster, and the tender chicken with of course, cheese and dessert. However, we opted for minor changes and we’re very pleased with the meal’s diversity.

Menu Collection 

Langoustines rafraîchies, nage réduite, caviar osciètre – bouillon parfumée – (Brittany Langoustines with Court Bouillon Reduction and Caviar from China – served warmed). The restaurant’s main signature dish where the langoustine is cooked until firm and served with a ball of caviar and accompanied by a shellfish broth containing ginger and lemongrass flavors.

We were also treated a Langoustine tartare (the langoustine here is cooked a bit less and mixed with Yuzu, lime juice, lemon zest, red onions) and surrounded by a delicate gelée.

Ecrevisses en Bisque (Crayfish bisque served atop morilles mushrooms with a coral-flavored meringue and reduced lobster bisque)

Légumes de Printemps (Baby spring vegetables – carrots, onions, turnip and potatoes in green pea and bean soup) – it looked like a baby vegetable garden…very cute and very strong in taste

Homard de Bretagne, pommes de mer (Blue lobster of Brittany served with roasted coin-size potatoes) – A very high quality and generous portion of lobster atop a bed of small potatoes and served with a strong infused sauce of Lobster.

Turbot, coquillages, blettes (Turbot fish steamed in red and green algae) and served next to baby clams on a paper-thin bed of beets.

Foie gras en pot-au-feu (A generous portion of foie gras – which surprisingly had no fat at all, served with spring vegetables and accompanied by a tapioca and mushroom broth)

Veau, asperges vertes (Veal served perfectly rosé with Asparagus and a complimentary side-dish of head of veal — to me I could have gone to heaven just then as it was so moist and collagen-like…aaah loved it)

Fraises, creme, meringue (I could no longer stuff myself but had to try and skipped the cheese course. Very sweet strawberries with a white meringue and accompanied by a wild-strawberry jus – served in a short glass jar)

There were also pre and post-desserts, such as chocolate tablets and candies from a trolley that make you feel like a child in a candy store. The home-made assorted chocolates is very good and macarons, both chocolate and coffee, are very crunchy (outside) and soft (inside) which is very important. Tea can be also taken with your dessert but I did not have the chance to sip it as I was much too full but the tea itself comes in a trolley filled with different aromas and herbs to accompany your drink.

My family and I were able to go inside the kitchen and meet Chef Saintagne and all the chefs that made our meal very enjoyable. I was very happy with the dinner and believe that if you would like to tray a 3-star experience for the 1st time in Europe, this place should be at the top of your list. It’s extraordinary French food at its best making you feel like a King or Queen for the evening.

Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée

25 av. Montaigne,  75008                                                                                              

Tel: 01-53-67-65-00                                              

Metro: Alma-Marceau (Ligne 9)

Reservations essential, Open for Lunch: Thursday and Friday, Closed Weekends

5 Responses to “Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée”
  1. Roberto says:

    You are a queen!

    Glad that you loved it!


  2. grant says:

    hi, i have been an avid follower of your blog since i have been planning to go to ferrandi too. i can help but ask if this is where you are having you stage?..your previous entries suggest so 🙂 …. if i am right, you’re so lucky …

  3. Hol says:

    That entree looks very similar to an entree you prepared earlier in a post…. ;->>>
    Fantastic!! I am a huge fan of the blog as I am a prospective Ferrandi student too. Ciao!!

  4. Emmanuelle says:

    Hi 🙂
    I’ve been following your blog for a while now… it’s great that you share your experiences 🙂
    I’m about to go to at Alain Ducasse at the Plaza for dinner and I’d like some recommendations from an insider 😉 Can you email me so I can ask you a few questions?

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  1. […] culinary school and interning in Alain Ducasse of Plaza Athénée, where I learned the best of the basics; I moved to San Sebastian in Basque country Spain to work […]

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