Le Meurice, The Ritz and Plaza Athenée, step back. Shangri-la is in town and it is here to stay and make its mark. The Asia-based luxury hotel opened its doors earlier this year as Shangri-la’s first European property. Set in the chic 16th arrondissement, the Shangri-La revamped the 1896 palace of Prince Roland Bonaparte, the grand nephew of Napoleon. Though the building couldn’t be more French, the Ming Dynasty vases that sit outside its front doors shows the hotel’s elegant blend of French architecture and Asian accents. 

The main entrance

The lobby

Since the building is listed as a historical French monument, much of the decor must remain classical with elaborate details restored such as the marble Grand Staircase and a Louis XIV-style Grand Salon (where the Parisian upper class gathered in the late 19th century).  

The marvelous restoration and decor should be awarded to French interior designer Pierre-Yves Rochon who mixes Empire style decor with some hints of modern minimalism. 
At the center of the hotel sits the main hotel restaurant, La Bauhinia, named for the orchid flower that graces Hong Kong’s flag. This restaurant serves a mix of French and Asian dishes and is brightened by a beautiful glass dome.
The piece de resistance, however, is L’Abeille, Shangri-la’s gastronomic restaurant headed by Chef Philippe Labbé
who creates contemporary visions of French classics. L’Abeille(meaning ‘The Bee’) refers to the imperial insignia of the Bonaparte family and overlooks the private gardens of the palace.  

Formerly of Bernard Loiseau’s and Gerard Boyer’s, Philippe Labbé also assisted Eric Briffard at the Plaza Athénée.  He then moved to be named Chef of Château de Bagnols (in Beaujolais), where in 2003 he won a Michelin star. Later on, he headed the kitchen at the Château de la Chèvre d’Or in Eze (where he won two stars in the Michelin Guide). 
Working with Pastry Chef François Perret and Restaurant Manager, Christophe Kelsch, formerly of The Ritz and Plaza Athénée, they created a very calm and enjoyable experience in a restaurant of haute-cuisine without being ‘frou-frou’ and over-the-top that many haute cuisine restaurants tend to be like. 
The decor is simple, elegant yet remains a little classic as well. The walls are light grey but the room is given a lot of color with bright yellow, from paintings, to the vases – all representing the color of the Bee.
On the table…
On the menu…
We started off with a beautiful glass of 2002 Vintage Veuve-Cliquot Champagne
The Champagne was accompanied by a handful of amuse-bouches
Carrot chip with Carrot ice-cream
Quartet of amuse-bouches (left to right): Truffle and parmesan cream, Flammekusche pie (originally from Alsace), Chicken liver and Foie gras and Strawberry macaroon. 
A spoonful of chicken liver, though I thought it tasted like foie gras. Very dense and thick but great texture. 
The flammekusche gave a little saltiness to the dish. 
Parmesan cream coated with truffle….mmmm black truffle
2nd set of amuse-bouches
Gamberoni carpaccio with cream and radish with a Gamberoni flattened chip – the chip reminded me of those prawn toast – a very strong taste that went well with the lighter carpaccio

DUCK FOIE GRAS FROM VENDÉE (in two sequences)

1st sequences: Half-cooked with praline, cocoa powder, Chiogga, yellow and «crapaudine» beetroot salad, beetroot and chocolate vinaigrette

Beautiful and clean plate. The cocoa powder tasted nicely with the foie gras which had some nuts in between – salty and sweet. 

The spoonful of chocolate vinaigrette and the beetroot salad

A nice thin slice of chocolate chip

2nd sequence : Cooked in a salt and sugar crust, cocoa flavoured duck juice, tender baby carrots, with orange and praline aromas

The foie gras was baked inside this crust. 

The final plating…the foie gras was perfectly cooked, not too raw and not over-cooked and was not oily or fatty at all. 
My father did not order a la carte but they insisted on letting him try some dishes. How could they let him watch us eat, they said. A very noble gesture. 

Warm Asparagus (from Roberto Blanc) with Mayonnaise with Aigues-Vives nut oil, Jabugo ham and black smoked tea foam. 

Warm plate of morilles mushrooms and mangosteen – very interesting and strong flavors blended together. 
BLUE LOBSTER (in two sequences)

1st sequence: Claws with a coral-flavoured mayonnaise, claw bits in a potato purée

Huge claw with flavorful peas

More lobster chunks with morilles mushrooms under a pea foam

2nd sequence : Steamed tail wrapped in cabbage from Pontoise with foie gras, potato cream with black truffle

IBERIAN SUCKLING PIG (in two sequences)

1st sequences: Trotters, sweetbread and black truffle, asparagus tips, caramelized green onions

On the left is the trotters and sweetbread – loved the texture of collagen

Well-cooked pork cheek which was surprisingly lean, in soya sauce. 

2nd sequence : Grilled rib, «secreto» and «pluma», braised cheek with truffle sauce, spaghetti with brioche and orange zest.

At first, I thought it was a normal spaghetti carbonara but in fact it was egg noodle. A very ingenius idea with bacon – best of both worlds
With these meals, I can never manage to have dessert, especially with rich food so we concluded our meal which was accompanied by some treats from a candy cart. 

Teddy bear chocolate and vanilla Marshmallows

You can’t leave without having chocolate (on a bed of unsweetened chocolate chips)
I was very impressed with the meal, decor, service and overall atmosphere of the restaurant. Haute cuisine is definitely felt here, and I truly believe this restaurant will go far – I foresee Michelin stars. And since I am on this very topic, I must admit that I have been to many restaurants in the past year and my stomach has truly experienced the best and not so best kinds of food. I am not saying this because I am from Hong Kong and a supporter of the Shangri-la but this restaurant is the best food in haute gastronomie that I have had so far. I hope that others will agree with me and be able to share the wonderful experience I had that evening. The Chef is very creative and I hope he continues his effort to show off his talents and the potential that L’Abeille has to woo the world.

Also soon to open is Shang Palace, Paris has yet to see the first Cantonese gastronomic restaurant – I cannot wait to try, especially if it’s mirroring its sister restaurants in Hong Kong. 

The Buzz of L’Abeille still continues on since it’s March 15 opening and I think we’ll be hearing it for a while. 

L’Abeille at the Shangri-la Hotel, 10 Avenue d’Iéna, 75016
Metro: Iéna (Ligne 9)

Closed: Sunday, Monday. Open only for dinner.

One Response to “L’Abeille”
  1. Roberto says:

    Your writing is amazing and delightful…

    Really, I love both!

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