Alain Ducasse at the Plaza Athénée

3 stars

Alain Ducasse at the Plaza Athénée

At this legendary palace on Montaigne Avenue in the 8th Quarter in Paris, under the serene auspices of Denis COURTIADE, the diner settles immediately into First Class: the leather two-seaters are made by the same people who manufacture the seats for Bentley cars. But any self-consciousness at being pampered by upholstery and luxurious trappings evaporates fast, overwhelmed by a surprising and deliciously earthy kitchen. The evening begins with green lentils, caviar and a delicate smoked-eel jelly. This topsy-turvy of textures coalesces around the refined combination of land and sea.

And so it continues: Chickpeas from Alpine slopes are ennobled with Vesiga (dried marrow taken from the spinal column of European Sturgeon) and topped by golden caviar. A king scallop from Chausey has its pearly subtlety enhanced by cauliflower with a cheese-and-black-truffle crust. Hemp from Brittany bathes in its seeds and squash, lobster from the Contentin region on the Atlantic coast, with a lobster egg emulsion, communes with the bitter hint of endives. Every element is exquisite, illustrating the immense product sourcing talents of Alain Ducasse and amplifying the sheer pleasure of these compositions. And the spaghettoni by Riccardo Camanini in leavened buttermilk with black truffle bears testimony to the global sophistication of a Mediterranean heart.

Citrus fruit from the star grower Michel Bachès freshen the palate in a spiced snow of Japanese yuzu (citrus junos.) Chocolates by Ducasse are blended with toasted cereals and a cocoa-single-malt sorbet. Peanuts from the Pyrenees are transformed into a soymilk Fontainebleau. Unctuous malted barley cream with frosted beer and hops are further highlights.

This ability to reinvent everything, every year, without artifice, drawing from the rhythmic changes of the seasons, is without doubt a result of his mastery at blending luxurious elements and ultramodern methods with the treasures from small traditional producers who are part of an eternal striving for sublime sensations.

Alain Ducasse at the Plaza Athénée
Hôtel Plaza Athénée
25, avenue Montaigne
75008 Paris

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