Up and About in Paris and London | Garden of Eatin’
We fill the lacuna
Lunch where? Paris. C’est le weekend. We’re Ivy’d out midweek although the Soho and Tower Bridge Brasseries’ zucchini fritti and truffle arancini are highly addictive. We’ve been wild about the Century Club’s wild mushroom burger. Hôtel Plaza Athénée Paris. Bows and bows of balconies along Avenue Montaigne. Next door to Christian Dior’s original couture house. The dress code for La Cour Jardin – the hôtel’s exclusive courtyard restaurant – is “elegant”. Ah bien. It’s cheek to high cheekbone with models. Martinets or marionettes? Ask Webb’s Road resident runway veteran Simon Duke. Poppy red parasols like oversized cocktail umbrellas keep the wrinklies wrinkles at bay. Virginia creeper clambering up the stone walls, smart trellis chairs among olive trees and acres of linen tablecloth… really the whole place simply oozes Parisian sophistication. The century old courtyard has been pimped and pruned to perfection by designer Bruno Moinard, displaying a talent for resonant juxtaposition. So this season.
We live off our acuity and salutary reminders
More mirrors than Versailles; more columns than the Coliseum; more pizzazz than Versace: this is the new luxury. Friday Street. Field of freedom. Earned ease. En plein air. A galaxy of culinary stars has aligned to make this restaurant happen. We’re star struck. Le grand fromage himself Alain Ducasse hooked up with Lawrence Aboucaya, owner of legendary Parisian vegetarian restaurant Pousse-Pousse, to concoct a homage to high energy menu. Under the watchful eye of Head Chef Mathieu Emeraud, the menu is fashionably divided into The Garden | The Classics | The Sea + The Shoreline | The Land + The Farm | The Herbs Garden | The Desserts. Just in case you miss the celebrity connection, there’s Alain Ducasse’s own brand champagne and the menu cover features an 18th century botanical watercolour from his personal collection.
We spend our years as a tale that is told
Sicilian olive oil accompanies randomly zoomorphic bread rolls, hatching out of folded linen baskets like long beaked ducklings. Artichoke and lemon risotto (€36.00) possesses all the freshness of The Garden. Tomato and pepper amuse bouche matches the red awnings. So does the John Dory, dusted with tomato and fennel (€58.00). Wide brimmed plates generously frame the food. Strawberry and almond (€22.00) come with madeleine on the side. And as an encore, orange and something petit fours. Chef Pâtissier Exécutif Angelo Musa’s efforts might expand waists by a few millimetres, but everyone’s so worth it. The proof is in the pudding. Delish! Us! Service is seamless. Doors magically open, The New York Times deftly appears: minimum fuss, maximum attention. Rooms range from €990 (single) to €28,000 (party time).
Wonders unto many, we are magnified and tainted by elegiac projection, poignancy and beauty
The sommelier arrives to explain the wine we aren’t ordering. Côte de Nuits 2000 (Richebourg) and Côte de Beaune 1999 (Corton Les Renardes). Both vins rouge, both Domaine Leroy, both €5,800. The wines are: “A perfect balance of acidity, alcohol, tonic and flavour. They have a controlled, perfect constitution.” We go for the more modestly priced €12 Saint Galmier Badoit Finement Pétillante 1778 (naturally carbonated water, to you). Good for catwalk silhouettes. An early autumnal breeze gently ripples through the courtyard. C’est la vie. La Cour Jardin: such seductiveness; an air kiss; make it a French kiss; a momentary embrace; a dalliance to the music of time. Dynamic magnetised moments. Life’s marginalia. Mise en Seine.
We are not your nebulous want
Dinner in London? What gives? Let’s do The Arts Club again. Hold the front page! Newspapers: today’s headlines; tomorrow’s cat litter. Business and pleasure handsomely combine at a private dinner with former Cabinet Minister and Chief Whip the Right Honourable Andrew Mitchell MP in the very non plebish Ante Room. Sharing plates can be terribly irksome but it does mean enjoying three puddings or at least dipping spoons in three puddings. Tout suite. Ever dedicated to a story arc, the wine is French de rigueur. Vermentino 2015 (Domaine des Yeuses, Vin de Pays d’Oc) and Légende de Lafite 2015 (Baron de Rothschild, Bordeaux). La vie en rosé. Not so good for catwalk silhouettes. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.
- Starters: green bean and artichoke salad | Caesar salad | prawn cocktail | Applewood smoked salmon with honey mustard dressing
- Main: grilled seabass, marinated aubergine and tomato
- Sides: creamed spinach | gratin dauphinois | glazed carrots
- Puddings: baked cheesecake with cassis sauce and berries | banana sticky toffee pudding | strawberry tart
We are the chosen ones