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Le Meurice


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Wow vinobiondo!  That was definitely a contrast to our meal.  I can only say I'm glad the appetizer courses had changed by the time we were there.  And I would have to say (and did so on another thread comparing Le Meurice with Ledoyen) that some of the dishes had a certain "rollercoaster" quality that felt like our palates were being pushed and pulled (sometimes a bit aggressively).  Nonetheless, we left feeling very satisfied.  I've noted several other positive reviews about Le Meurice here on eGullet, but it sounds like your experience goes beyond the kitchen just having "one of those nights".  Hard to know what to make of all that.

More than anything, I think it just goes to show how little has to go wrong to torpedo a meal at a restaurant of this caliber. After all, our fish, our meat, our cheese, our dessert, our wine were all very good to excellent. The room is beautiful if cold and the service is very professional if equally stiff. I actually think it mostly was the kitchen having "one of those nights" along with one poorly conceived dish served to just the wrong people and just the wrong time. But when you pony up the big bucks, you expect perfection, which is just what we got at three other Parisian restaurants this same week. By the way, your Ledoyen post was excellent, and I kicked myself for choosing the romantic setting of the Eiffel Tower at Jules Verne over the romantic setting of Ledoyen. It also amazed my that two people who live in San Clemente and San Diego find themselves eating nearly the same meal at the same restaurant on a different continent one week apart...

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Was that amuse this dish?


This is similar with at least one important difference. Assuming the ingredients are the same (can't tell just by looking), the green layer on the bottom of yours was up at the top of our and, partially because of the conical glass, probably 6 times as large volume-wise. We had less crab, less gelatin and much more whipped avocado (which, for me, was the main problem). This does look similar, however. Let me guess ... you loved it. :wink:

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I must say I don't know how it tasted, but the photo sure looks appetizing! That is a great restaurant photo.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

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I'm a bit hazy but here's my recollection of last Saturday’s tasting menu

- Couple of amuses which escape me

- melon gelee, melon soup & sauterne forth on top. v refreshing

- aubergine “cube” with sardine cream - various garishness – sucked

really badly (still evolving, I guess)

- snapper with artichoke, celery & saffron “broth” – really good

- roast foie gras on a bed of roast cherries – fantastic (needed a little

more salt, though)

- lobster tail stuffed with herbs on a bed of girolles – v good cream sauce

- beef fillet poached with bone marrow; little ravioli filled with

minced veg – great sauce

- chicken stuffed with foie gras & mini turnips stuffed with

something (forget) – v good

- goats cheese with olive oil ice cream – the ice cream not a patch

on gangaire’s

- bombarded with desserts – all pretty wonderful

Certainly gone up a notch since my last visit a year ago - only one bum dish the aubergine thing at the start.

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  • 2 months later...
... But this wine was the wine discovery of the night for me.  I had never tasted any wine from the Jura region before although I have heard of the “vin jaune”.  But this wine (described by the sommelier as 80% chardonnay and 20% jura grapes – my notes are a bit unclear at this point) simply didn’t taste like anything I’d ever had before.  I can’t really describe the flavor other than to say it was strong, rich, but not syrupy or cloying in the least.  Of course, it’s now a few weeks later so my memory is a bit faded…

As far as we know, vin jaune is made entirely from savagnin grapes. It's not a grape grown much in France and it's cultivation is probably restricted to the Jura region. Bux knows more about this stuff than I do and I think he's already posted about the first time we had chicken and morels in vine jaune. Anyway, it's a great wine with an unsual flavor akin to sherry in a way (resulting from the "flor" that develops in the cask) and it may take something of an educated palate to appreciate.


Le vin Jaune est obtenu après la vendange du cépage "Savagnin", est vieilli en fûts de chêne pendant 6 ans. C'est un vin sec de grande garde, riche en alcool, très épicé et très aromatique.
WorldTable • Our recently reactivated web page. Now interactive and updated regularly.
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  • 1 year later...

Here is my review for those who are interested.

click here

I had been at Le Meurice when the restaurant had 2 stars, 2 years ago. I believe I wrote a few things here and recommended the restaurant.

It is incredible though, how restaurants change after they get the 3rd star. Sometimes positive, sometimes negative, but they do change. In case of Meurice the change has been positive. Chef Alleno, always displayed a keen intelligence which reflected in his cooking but sometimes he missed the mark and made some odd taste combinations. I suppose it was all part of a long maturing process. Now, he is cooking with great confidence and restraint. Ingredients are optimum, dishes are (for the most part) very well conceived and the execution is flawless. To sum it up, the cooking has a kind of "rigor" which you sometimes find at top end restaurants in France and seldom elsewhere.

Another plus of Meurice is that the wine matching is adventorous and to the mark. The price is also reasonable, esp. in view of the prices in the list.

For those who may be interested in the details I am providing the link. I apologize that the full page is coming and Meurice is the second article.

Vedat Milor

Edited by vmilor (log)
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  • 4 months later...
Does any one know how to buy the book for meurice

This is what amazon.fr shows, is this what you mean?

Quatre saisons à la table N° 5 : Le Meurice, Paris par Kazuko Masui, Yannick Alleno, Philippe Barret, et Rika Fujimori (Relié - 6 décembre 2006)

Acheter neuf: EUR 60,00 EUR 57,00 4 Neufs et d'occasion à partir de EUR 57,00

John Talbott

blog John Talbott's Paris

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It just occurred to me you might also be asking how to order it from the US. I recall a topic a while back on ordering books in France but I cannot find it but I think it recommended www.alapage.fr. I myself have either gotten stuff from FNAC or amazon.fr, but I just Googled French books and got the Rutgers site that says:

“French books can be purchased from

 www.chapitre.com

 www.alapage.fr

 www.fnac.fr

 www.amazon.fr

 www.schoenhofs.com “

I hope this is helpful.


John Talbott

blog John Talbott's Paris

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  • 9 months later...

Here are my pictures from my April lunch at Le Meurice:

Le Meurice pics

The foie gras and one part of dish at Pierre Gagnaire were the only two dishes during my trip that I disliked. I had not entirely understood what “iodé en pain du sucre,” but that part of the dish I actually liked; at least in terms of the theater of cracking open the “sugar bread” (don’t know if there is a more idiomatic translation) to reveal the foie gras inside (which is shown in the first couple foie gras pictures). Of course, this left the foie gras quite sweet; and certainly something was needed to cut that sweetness – but for me, the chutney de navet aux algues vinaigrées was definitely not the right choice. It tasted pretty good at first, but gradually the flavor of the chutney – particularly the algae or seaweed or whatever the proper translation is – became overpowering, at least for me. I was only able to taste the chutney and hardly taste the foie gras at all. I only had about half of the dish. It was an ambitious dish and certainly different, but for me, a miss. I think I am particularly sensitive to excessively salty/sea flavors (I know it’s heresy, but I am not a huge caviar fan), so maybe others would find this more pleasing.

The lobster on the other hand was excellent, and the ris de veau was very good. Dessert also very nice.

I also found the service to be particularly friendly, particularly given the (overly?) formal nature of the dining room. I’m not a huge fan of the palace dining rooms, but I think they’re generally better during the day with the natural light. At the end of lunch, I briefly met Chef Alléno, and I chickened out from saying anything negative about the foie gras.

It's certainly not the first three-star I would go back to - but I would go back. Certainly interesting things are going on here.

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  • 2 months later...
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  • 4 weeks later...
I have my booking for the 17th April next year! Very excited! Just waiting for the 1st

Gracious. They let you book THAT far in advance?

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)


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I have my booking for the 17th April next year! Very excited! Just waiting for the 1st

Gracious. They let you book THAT far in advance?

I like to think it's because of my good looks and charming personality :raz:

I think since it's part of a major hotel chain they have the resources to do it.... Maybe. Or its the reason above :biggrin:

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  • 4 weeks later...

Slowly but surely, many of the palace-like restaurants in Paris have been demoted from their 3 macarons standard (le grand vefour was the last victim). One of the 2 that still at the top of the game is Le Meurice. In less than half-decade at the helm of the hotel’s signature restaurant, Yannick Alleno brought Le Meurice to the summit last year.

Food (and wine) - 96/100

Like what I expected, restaurant backed-up by the elite institution will have abundant resources. The menu here is very extensive (including the wine list), but incredibly expensive. The tasting menu, on the other hand, is more “friendly” to my pocket. So, I chose it and changed the main course to Bresse Chicken. The menu consisted of 3 appetizers, 1 sea food and meat main course each, cheese and 2 desserts priced about the same level as Le Cinq and Les Ambassadeurs. None of the dish here is less than good for me, the highlights (and surprised) are the humble zucchini with fried onions curry and raisins, crispy red mullet deliciously served with clam juice and squid. The chicken is in 2 serving – the breast meat (a bit dry to my likeness) served with its crispy skin flavored by sautéed girolle and generous serving of chanterelle mushrooms. The 2nd serving is more interesting – dry leg meat with foie gras and bacon toast, an eye opening experience.

The cheese is a course by itself and it’s very good … “echourgnac” cheese with cepe salad and vin jaune rum baba. The dessert – The 1st one is one of the best during this trip, very pleasant coconut milk with refreshing pineapple and olive “madeleines” and lime sorbet. The last dessert is exotic – figs glazed prepared with blackcurrant juice (highly skilled preparation). The black figs is too much for me, never a big fan of it – just give it a try, the earthy galangal sorbet is not bad at all. The wine pairing at $130 for 8 glasses … I think it’s quite fair, but for me 1 glass of white and red wine each is sufficient. I had 2006 Chassagne-Montrachet and 2002 J.M. Boillot Pommard Jarolieres. The food here is classical yet contemporary … look in more details, and you won’t be bored. I wrote 96/100 in my note for the food here (The same level as Astrance, but different characteristics)

Service (and ambiance) - 96/100

The décor of the dining room, modeled after Salon de la Paix at Versailles, is luxurious and shameless. After the refurbishment by Philippe Starck, all the opulence elements work hand-in-hand from the mirrors, gilding and chandeliers. Honestly, I’m very comfortable dining here. Both the ambiance and service are not stuffy at all. Similar to Le Louis XV, Le Meurice also under utilized its spaces for the comfort of the guests. Maybe only 45 diners are allowed at one point in time. My maitre d’hotel is very friendly, nice and helpful. The rest of the teams never forget to refill my water, change my napkin etc. The toilet itself is at 5-star level as well (The Plaza Athenee and Crillon public restrooms are very normal), the staff will show you the toilet all the way, just to make sure you’re not lost – a high class service indeed. Moreover, they’re not too picky when I asked to adjust the tasting menu i.e. Bresse chicken in 2 service replaced the Lozere lamb.

So far, Hof Van Cleve is my best nominee when people ask where to have their 1st 3-star experience due to nice food, great service, comfortable ambiance and the price is not on the high side among the other establishments. But, the place is not very accessible, in the middle of nowhere literally. And now, after dining at Le Meurice, I delightfully recommend this place for 1st timer in the gastronomic world. Luxury ambiance yet down-to-earth service, abundant food and wine yet the tasting menu is a good way to start and savor many different ways of cooking in Europe’s (if not the world’s) best restaurants. The whole experience is graded 96/100 (high 2 ¾* standard – very closed to Pierre Gagnaire, except no roller coaster)

All the pictures are here - Le Meurice Fall 08

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  • 3 months later...


I was at Le Meurice for lunch in early January.

Please click here to read my full review with photography: HERE

Le Meurice in question was one Charles-Augustin Meurice, the entrepreneurial postmaster of Calais – the Continent’s first port of call for British aristocracy visiting Paris or setting off on their Grand Tours. Here in 1771, he started greeting these tourists and providing them with accommodation at his coaching inn within the town whilst also arranging their transport to the capital or elsewhere aboard his coach service. Business was good and in 1817, he expanded, building a second inn in Paris. After his deathin 1835, the hotel named after him moved to its present, sublime site on the rue de Rivoli, where it also earned another label, the ‘City of London’. This was on account of it being the abode of choice amongst well-to-do British travellers. Even author, William M. Thackeray recommended it: ‘If you don't speak a word of French, if you like English comfort, clean rooms, breakfast and maîtres d'hôtel; if in a foreign land, you want your fellow countrymen around you, your brown beer, your friend and your cognac - and your water - do not listen to any of the messengers but with your best British accent cry heartily: 'Meurice!' and immediately, someone will come forward to drive you straight [there].’ Even Queen Victoria stayed here during her 1855 state visit.

For the following century and a half or so, the hotel’s reputation grew as it played host to royals and world leaders; the succession of kings, princes, sultans, maharajas, dukes and duchesses that frequented it or, literally, called it home, secured it its second sobriquet, ‘l’Hôtel des Rois’. When Alphonse XIII of Spain was dethroned, he moved into Le Meurice; the Shah of Iran was dethroned whilst he stayed here. Picasso had his wedding at the hotel; Dali spent a month each year there. And, of course there are some stories – any Parisian institution worth its salt has a Dali tale to tell – including, for instance, that he demanded a flock of sheep be brought to his room only to fire blanks at them. Another time he asked for a horse, although the hotel’s employees knew better by then; he paid staff five Francs for every fly they caught him from the Tuileries Garden across the street; whilst he gave others autographed lithographs as Christmas tips.

A top class, five star hotel must have a top class, three star restaurant – and indeed it does. Restaurant Le Meurice earned its third étoile in February 2007, making it currently Paris’ only palace hotel* offering such an haute standard of cuisine. However, it was only as recently as 2003 that it boasted just one star, but under the aegis of Chef Alléno, that swiftly changed.

This Lozère native with modest beginnings was inspired to cook by his mother or, more specifically, her pots and their intoxicating odours. After growing up in Saint-Cloud, one of Paris’ western suburbs, and completing his CAP in cooking, then baking, he was introduced to Manuel Martinez by his father, with whose help he landed a position as pastry apprentice at the Lutetia Hotel. A year on, he moved on to the Hôtel Royal Monceau as a commis for Gabriel Biscay. The next year, Alléno spent some time in Japan, where the sophistication and attention to detail of the local cooking impressed him immensely. On his return, he joined the Hôtel Sofitel Sèvres with Roland Durand before becoming chef de partie at Le Meurice, at that time headed by Marc Marchand. After two years, he moved to Drouant as an adjoint under Louis Grandard – from whom he claims to have learnt most of his trade and the essence of the profession: ‘he taught me everything you can learn including meticulousness’. In 1999, he represented France at the Bocuse d’Or, bringing home the Bocuse d’Argent (the silver). The competition raised his profile greatly and was the start of a rewarding relationship between Paul Bocuse and himself. In fact, the former referred Alléno to the Hôtel Scribe, who then appointed the latter as head chef at its Les Muses restaurant. Here he won a Michelin star that same year and then another in 2002. In 2003, Le Meurice wanted him back, but this time, in charge. He accepted and gave up his unassuming basement at the Scribe for the palace dining room on the rue de Rivoli.

As soon as he arrived, he refurbished the kitchens – three sit alongside each other underground – adding new ovens and a rotisserie as well as installing thirty-three of his former staff in both kitchen and FOH. The rewards were immediate; within six months he had a second star and the next year, an espoir. As mentioned, the missing macaroon came in 2007: ‘this third star was my dream! It is the result of twenty-two years of work, passion and a desire to be the best at all times. Yet it also marks the beginning of a new life. This third star is a tremendous responsibility and it is now up to me to make it shine.’ This last point is one that he seems reassuringly concerned about – ‘the guide gives us confidence and we must not disappoint our customers.’

Nearly two hundred years of history had taken its toll and, in 2007, über-designer, Philippe Starck and daughter Ara, were called in to refurbish the whole hotel, including the restaurant. Manager, Franka Holtman, stated ‘I see Le Meurice as the most French of places…I want to make it a new destination where people will…be transported by gastronomy. I asked Philippe to…create a mood that would enhance and respect the beauty and proportions of this magnificent palace. His response is what I had secretly dreamed of.’ Evidently, Monsieur Holtman was having dreams of Grand Siècle grandeur as this response was a redesign of Le Brun and Hardouin-Mansart’s late-seventeenth century Salon de la Paix at the Château de Versailles.

Four low-hanging crystal chandeliers; epic, carved marble fireplace; double-barrel marble columns with gilded capitals circling the room; antique, tall, bevelled mirrors in each corner; big bay windows bordered with more rare marble; are all only some of the fabulous furnishings and features of the restaurant. On one side of the room, a central ice sculpture is surrounded by white settees, immense square tables and Louis XVI-style ivory armchairs; on the other, stand decadently distanced circular tables, all upon a mosaic floor featuring laurel wreaths against buff backgrounds. Three Theophile Poilpot paintings, relics of the room’s first renovation in 1905, frame the space; one round picture rests above the fireplace and is reflected by another on the opposite wall, while the third, larger, oval piece covers most of the twenty-foot high ceiling. A champagne table and six-hundred-and-sixteen bottled, walk-in, refrigerated wine cellar that opens onto the dining room are more modern modifications. Immaculate white linen tabletops are laid with little bouquets of red roses, silver salt and pepper shakers, Christofle cutlery and custom crockery. This crockery is made by J.L. Coquet, but is actually a collaboration between the Limoges porcelain company, an elite car designer and Alléno himself. It took the trio two years to create the Plate Onde – an inner, white dish stamped with the chef’s initials in relief that sits atop a reversible, treated porcelain ring (the bronze side used during savouries and then flipped to reveal its golden surface for the sweets service). The plate has a small hook in one corner; the result of a chip in a trial run, which Alléno liked the look of and incorporated into the finished motif. Along with these, he also helped create a new carbon tray, using the latest technologies from the car industry that is both lightweight and ‘literally unbreakably’. The room’s faux-Baroque interior is tasteful, elegant and, in my opinion, rather lovely. There is a lightness and brightness to the room that is welcoming, sumptuous and serene.

The menu at Le Meurice is a lively one. You can be sure that it is very seasonal, but little more besides that. Alléno likes to draw up recipes depending on what the markets are offering and creates some hundred new dishes each year. The carte is even printed in-house, allowing him to chop and change it as he likes. When it came to deciding what to order myself, I was unsure of how to proceed. Actually, I did know that the chef de patisserie, Camille Lesecq, is a talent and the desserts here were something special, but little else. For that reason, I enlisted the help of Monsieur Wilfried Morandini, the maître d’hôtel, whom I had been informed beforehand had excellent judgement. For the record, Monsieur Morandini has great pedigree having worked at la Tour d’Argent and l’Espadon, then le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons (at the same time that Marco Pierre White was there). After returning to France, he spent five years as assistant maître d'hôtel at Louis XV in Monaco, followed by stints at Le Cinq and Le Bristol prior to his appointment at Le Meurice. I asked him to compose a menu for me…

Amuse Bouche 1: Gelée de langoustine, crème d’avocat et crevettes. First amuse to arrive was a bowl bearing a small bright green mound of mashed avocado at its base bathing in lucent, auburn langoustine gelée; a gavotte, garnished with a streak of grey shrimp mousse and marinated whole prawn, balanced over the cup’s mouth. The jelly was instilled with a surprisingly strong shellfish savour, which found a natural counterpart in the coarsely crushed, buttery avocado; a little lemon here helped bring out both aspects. Crunchy crepe dentelle readily gave way to the crème de crevettes grisses it carried, which was also packed with deep flavour whilst the crevette bouquet burst with sweet, light fruitiness imparted from its olive oil marinade.

Les Pains: Baguette; pain complet; pain au sarrasin; pain au levain; et pain aux céréales. A pleasing silver platter proffered five breads that had been baked on the premises. The baguette with bite was yeasty and well-seasoned; wholemeal and pain au sarrasin were both decent; while sourdough was crisp and slightly tangy. The cereal roll, seedy and crusty with almost moist middle, was the best of the bunch.

When it comes to butter, anything other than Bordier and it is a compromise; I mean I will still spread it on my bread, but I won’t be smiling silly as I do it. That being said, I think I have finally found an excellent stand-in – Pascal Beillevaire’s beurre cru de baratte à la fleur de sel de Nourmoutier. This maître fromager’s creamy, soft unpasteurised butter is from Machecoul in the Loire and flecked with fine, salty crystals of sel gris that accentuate both its taste and texture.

Amuse Bouche 2: Oeuf Brouillé et mouillette avec beurre d’algues. Gilded open egg shell, brimming with sea urchin emulsion that concealed scrambled egg, was served with a toasted soldier and seaweed butter in bonbon wrapper. The warm, airy froth was briny-sweet and surrendered rich, runny semi-firm oeuf; seaweed butter (also Beillevaire’s) accentuated both. On a practical note, even though already small, the mouillette’s width made it difficult to dip into the egg.

Entrée 1: Fins coquillages ouverts à cru au corail d’oursin, gelée de chou rouge relevée au genièvre. Alternating raw elements of oyster, romaine lettuce, red-cabbage-marinated scallop, cockle, sea urchin roe and barnacles, all garnished with grated juniper berries and dotted with sperificated seawater-oyster juice, surrounded red cabbage jelly. The odour of the ocean was obvious at once and evidence of the dish’s freshness, as were its bright colours. The scallops, thinly sliced, were succulent, sweet and firm whilst the juniper berries picked up on the earthier cabbage, bringing the woods to the waterfront. The shellfish had clean, marine savours, with the mineral oyster especially standing out; bubbles of oyster juice and sea water added briny sharpness whilst the cabbage jelly had been pickled, preserving its redness and giving it a sweet-sourness that lightened the iodic intensity.

Entrée 2: Poireaux à la Béchamel; Truffes cuites en papillote avec un beau morceau de moelle. A single leek, its bulb and most its stem bound in Béchamel sauce, sat alongside three thick slivers of black truffle, brushed with jus de veau and vin jaune and topped with wholemeal croutons and cubes of bone marrow. At first sight, the skin of white sauce appeared heavy, even viscid. Looks can be deceiving; this mother of a sauce was light and delicate, its mild richness drawing out the mellow sweetness of the leek. The truffles, croutons and marrow had been baked ensemble with the Château-Chalon, jus and a little walnut oil en paillote or in a tightly sealed pouch. Each ingredient’s flavour infused the others and all the flavours fused together to deliver subtle spicy, savoury nuttiness. The unctuousness of the moelle was matched by the crunch of the croutons whilst the veal jus mixing with the Béchamel evoked La Varenne’s original version.

Plat Principal 1: Queues de langoustines aux agrumes confits; Fines feuilles de navet et cuisson foisonnée à l’huile d’avocat. The dish, drizzled with avocado oil and turnip honey then strewn with thin slices of turnip and warm crumbs of citrus fruit, was crowned with a couple of the chubbiest langoustines, shelled and stuffed with fennel shoot and its feathery flowers. Lime green avocado oil had an interesting nutty warmth that worked well with the turnip, itself sweet with distinctively nutlike. The moist shavings melted in the mouth. Sour morsels of mandarin, lemon and grapefruit had been cooked ever so slightly giving them a faint crispiness. The langoustines, whose aroma had filled the air, were tender, fat and juicy. Within, al dente fennel has firmness that contrasted with the soft meat and delicate aniseed that had harmony with it.

Plat Principal 2: Poitrine de pigeon frottée aux baies de genièvre; Chartreuse modern de légumes d’hiver; Cuisses preparées en cocotte aux truffes, comme une alouette sans tête; Purée moelleuse de pomme de terre. A pair of roasted pigeon breasts encrusted with juniper berries, sat either side of two winter chartreuses that stood in jus rôti and trickled with vegetable butter. Cooked extremely well, the delicate, crimson meat imparted just a little bit of blood. However, it lacked the gaminess expected from it and although the hearty, sharp berries tried their best, they were unable to bring the bird to life. What surprisingly stole the show were the chartreuse crammed with cauliflower, yellow and orange carrot, beetroot and fennel, enclosed within crisp, bubbly cabbage. The snappy vegetables burst with freshness enhanced by the light butter and underscored with the beefy, intense jus.

To my delight, as I devoured this dish, another smaller one was delivered. The pigeon’s thighs had been cooked with truffle and foie gras all rolled together to resemble a headless dove (alouette sans tête – an allegorical name for a Provençe recipe of stuffed beef). This plump boudin had punchy depth and serious aroma; the truffled cooking juice it lay in was just as tasty, whilst the mash, indeed moelleuse, but substantial and seasoned well.

Dessert 1: Mousse légère de marron rafraîchie à la mandarine; Segments glacés et jus en petites perles acides. In the plate’s centre, a couplet of columns, both composed of mandarin sorbet and its caviar encased within gavotte cylinders and crowned with chestnut crème and confit, gold leaf and meringue baton, were partnered with three separate pairs of mandarin segment each glazed in Bourbon vanilla gelée and upon its particular smear of mandarin coulis. As complicated as this was to describe, it was that easy to eat. The fruit wedges, exuding the full-bodied fragrance of vanilla, were lovely and juicy, their sugariness contrasting with the spicy, sticky coulis. The wafer-thin cracker-like wrapping offered crisp texture and toasted flavour before the cold, refreshing sorbet spiked with bubbles of tart-sweetness was tasted. This was surrounded by the smooth, earthy chestnut mousse and then comforting confit, which worked off the starchiness of the gavotte and biscuit base of each brace.

Dessert 2: Pâté d’amande imprimée aux pétales de rose; Fraises de bois au jus réduit de grenades. A roule of rose mousse, its marzipan manteau embedded with rose petals, was layered with chunky lemon caviar and lay in between two banks of wild strawberry quintet, both dressed with reduced grenadine jus. With the fragile pâté d’amande fractured and cream rummaged, a sablé bar buried in the roll’s middle was revealed. This had a nice crunchiness that complemented its thickly whipped, Chantilly-like medium. The delicate essence of rose was unmistakeable here, as was the distinct almond of its envelope. The petites boules de citron it bore had stimulating, creamy zing whilst the ethereal petal was delicious and strongly sapid. The strawberries were fruity and forceful, dissolving on the tongue into a grainy, seedy, sweet paste; the sugary-sour grenadine that covered them was equally potent.

Petit Fours: Poire rôti et crème de marron; choux à la crème; et biscuit de chocolat avec menthe. A sterling tray supplied some extra treats. Le moins petit petit fours was a shot, half-filled with honey roasted pear imbathed in its jus rôti beneath chestnut crème, the glass capped with a fine caramel circle. The airy, fluffy chestnut and light, crackly tuile were very good, but the sweet pear was a little watery. Pâte à choux, piped full of vanilla cream, peppered with pistachio and surmounted with caramelised hazelnut was light, nutty and reminiscent of Ferrero Rocher. Finally, two squares of salty chocolate biscuit sandwiching mint choc mousse were very tasty – the brittle, bitter cookies coupled pleasantly with fresh, cool, clean menthol.

Migniardises: Gâteau citron glacé sucre. To finish, iced lemon cakes decorated with more gold leaf. Well-made, spongy and sugary, their sour citron savour cleansed the palate.

The service was everything one can expect from an institution such as this – attentive, polite, friendly as well as adaptive and reactive. With a staff of seventy-four serving forty-five covers this should not be a surprise. All the serveurs I spoke with were well-informed, patient and obliging. Monsieur Morandini was the model of a maître d’hôtel. Hospitable, gracious and enthusiastic, he would drop by my table to see how I was doing, ensuring all my whims where met. As service was wrapping up Chef Alléno came out of the kitchen to speak to each of the remaining guests. This is a regular habit apparently, but not an exercise in vanity – he has admitted to modifying recipes based simply on post-meal remarks he has received. After we met, I was certainly impressed. Whites stained, shirtsleeves rolled up, he looked the sort of chef who was not afraid to get his hands dirty. Focused, interested and full of energy – he also had tangible intensity and charisma.

As to the food, I am sitting on the fence, but scouring for a safe place to land. On the positive side. Everything was cooked flawlessly, ingredients were excellent, presentation appealed, but I was just not overwhelmed by deliciousness. The amuses were decent; the first better than the second. The coquillages course did what it was supposed to – delivering the sea to me – but I doubt I would order it again (as a matter of personal preference though). The poireaux was good, the flavours pleasing, but there was almost the sense that something may have been missing. The langoustines were tasty – delicate and subtle; simple and refined. The pigeon that followed was very capable; hearty and rich for sure, but it did not wow. The marron and mandarine dessert was probably the pinnacle of the meal with a wealth of textures and savours coming together brilliantly. The dessert that followed this was also enjoyed, but had a hard job trying to better the first.

What I wanted to see more of was the originality and imagination of Alléno, which I had read much about. Ingredient combinations were more traditional, or at least tried-and-tested, rather than inventive or surprising – although it has to be said that one of the few new parings I tried, mandarin and chestnut, worked tremendously well. Additionally, flavours were definitely distinct, but not really moving or thrilling – they were harmonious, subtle and composed instead.

Alléno himself describes what he does as ‘Parisian cuisine’ and has often been quoted as saying, ‘Paris has no soil, France is its garden.’ Considering that the city lies firmly in the country’s butter half and its local produce – peas, asparagus, mushrooms, beef, veal, pears, apples, cherries, wild strawberries – were rarely seen, he maybe referring to the capital’s culinary classicism. The seat of kings and birthplace of Carême, his approach plays to that image of refinement and exquisiteness – whereby recipes have been worked and worked until an ultimate, superior absolute is achieved. I am not staying that this was achieved, but it is what the aim seemed to be.

If I were asked to ascribe Alléno’s cooking to a specific style, I would find it very difficult. Nouvelle cuisine is the term that appears to offer itself most readily, but I would not claim it a perfect fit. There is indeed a focus on fresh ingredients; a healthier aspect to the food; and use of modern methods and equipment. However, though the chef may practise some of this school’s axioms, he is certainly not constrained by them; some heavier sauces can be found; classic cooking and dishes inspire some of his repertoire; and beyond but a superficial simplicity, the food is at times intricate in thought, technique and implementation. To develop on this last point, take for example, the fins coquillages ouverts à cru. Nominally minimal – a ring of shellfish around red cabbage – a closer look reveals hidden sophistication. First, the shellfish are of five varieties; the scallops have been marinated in red cabbage; the central chou rouge itself has been made into a jelly and pickled with vinegar; juniper berries have been grated on top; and amidst all these, meticulously made spherificated beads of oyster juice and seawater had been secreted. As already pointed out this was not even a course I particularly liked, but it was effective and appreciated.

In my opinion, some of the themes that dominate Alléno’s cooking are the relative, but not absolute lack of saucing; the finite use of herbs and spices; significance (but not subservience) to a fundamental aesthetic; a preference for using produce in its natural form and entirety; and a strong seasonal bias. The poireaux, as a paradox to the nouvelle notion, boasted the heaviest, most classical sauce of the meal (with the Béchamel), but it still felt to me to need more/a stronger binding element. That said it does nonetheless illustrate those initial points – no discernable herbs or spice added; a clean, uncluttered arrangement; the leek whole; and fresh produce at its organic optimum. For the record, regarding his raw materials, the chef sources the majority from Parisian market, Rungis, but as evidence of his thoroughness, he has a total of one-hundred-and-twenty individual suppliers.

In a word – rigorous – is how I would summarise this cooking. These dishes are the rigorous result of vigorous effort. Painstaking, methodical, light-handed, confident, restrained are other adjectives I would add were I allowed to waffle on. An extreme care has gone into these meals, no short-cuts taken or corners cut, which may not be clear at first, but it is certain. There is a profound restraint, which though it may not have come off every time, can be commended – the temptation to add and alter a dish is difficult to resist, often leading to an overworking of the produce or overcomplicating of the plate. In this respect, Alléno shows self-assurance and an appreciation that less can be more. The technique displayed today was very impressive to say the least. However, I cannot help but feel I did not experience Le Meurice at its best. This might have been because I did not order myself, but this was not the restaurant’s fault – in truth, I hold it to Monsieur Morandini’s credit that he tailored me a carte based on what he discussed, rather than just serving the existent tasting menu. Additionally, I have read that the restaurant may be enjoyed more in the summertime when Alléno’s delicate touch can be felt better, but I have also heard that the winter months, with their wild fish, shellfish and ‘forgotten roots’, are his favourite – indeed the fish-course was my favourite of the savouries – this may have been a reflection of the chef’s fondness for Japanese cooking and its affinity for seafood.

The fact that the kitchen produces so many new dishes – eighty to a hundred and twenty a year – is intriguing. Such a terrific rate suggests that either Alléno is still searching for a ‘style’ of his own or is testament to the hard work and creativity of a perfectionist. I believe it must be a mix of both, but I really cannot judge so much on a single meal.

Whatever the case may be, I know that I liked Le Meurice. The grand, hate-it-or-love-it dining room (and though I know it is essentially an ersatz majesty, I was quite taken with it – read into that what you will); the pampering one receives from an army of serveurs; but most importantly, a clearly talented, driven chef who seems still to be maturing (i.e. getting better); were more than sufficient to leave me satisfied.

I think that one of the nicest compliments one can give a restaurant and a true testament to its quality is to pay it a return visit. This is precisely what I hope to do.

Food Snob


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  • 3 months later...

Was a bit shocked to get an email from a PR firm saying Yannick Alleno is on his way out. To quote the release: "· Marrakech’s hottest new property, Royal Mansour (opening November 2009), has tapped former Le Meurice talent: three-star Michelin chef Yannick Alléno. Alléno will serve as Executive Chef with three different restaurant concepts, all focusing on reinterpreting traditional Moroccan cuisine."

Can it be? Does anyone have details as to why he'd leave Le Meurice for Marrakech??

Alexandra Forbes

Brazilian food and travel writer, @aleforbes on Twitter

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Went here a few weeks ago and must say that I was rather disappointed. It was a meal that was more l'art pour l'art than anything else. The dishes were all beautiful, interesting (in terms of the concepts) but often lacking in taste. There were, luckily enough some good dishes too. A beef dish had memorable potatoes and the desserts were very good too. Still, for a three star, two very poor starters are unacceptable, or at least not the best recipe for getting people to return.

Looking back, Food Snob, Chuck's and A life worth eating's reports had the same comment, which I unfortunately have to subscribe to as well.

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I was just looking at the current menu for Le Meurice online, and I noticed there are no less than five dishes the feature seaweed in one form or another.


This is the September menu, so not positive how long the link will work.

This is strange to me, because at my meal there, I had found the seaweed portion of the foie gras dish decided unsuccessful, although others might disagree, of course. Not to suggest that all seaweed is necessarily the same or anything either, but it seems like rather an odd ingredient to pop up so many times. To me, it almost seems like it might be a case of innovation or incorporation of Eastern influences or whatever that is done more for its own sake rather than for the food. Or maybe Alleno is just very inspired by seaweed.

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