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Le Clarence - French fine dining still has a (bright) future

Bu Pun Su

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Restaurants having multiple-star Michelin often means foodies would come after them. These days, there’re many of them that will also aggressively doing marketing for the restaurants. However, not all of them doing that – those which choose to remain quiet usually are confident with their own cuisine and (I believe) one of them is Le Clarence. Given the grand mansion-like building housing the restaurant and knowing the owner of the restaurant – Prince Robert of Luxembourg, Le Clarence could easily promote itself but instead it prefers to be under the radar. Opened a few years ago, it quickly rose to receive 2-star award. It should not be surprising, consistent with Michelin’s way … Christophe Pele, the executive chef, already held the 2-star when running La Bigarrade nearly a decade ago.


Food-wise, Le Clarence seemed like the symbiosis Astrance and Gagnaire. It had no a la carte menu; only tasting. Guest simply need to choose how many courses they want to eat and mention dietary restriction (if any) … the lunch price was comparatively reasonable given its luxury dining room and it’s Paris! I came rather late and settled with the middle tasting menu consisted of 4 courses. Some highlights were:


-The appetizer focused around scallops. Probably inspired by his past mentor – Gagnaire, Chef Pele cooked the scallops in 3 different ways: lightly roasted served with buffalo milk cream, mushrooms and tangy capers. Next, poached scallop with delicious & deep duck broth, creamy sea urchin and mild daikon (sublime – my favorite one from the 1st course). Last but not least, raw scallop accompanied by feta cheese, tuna sauce and bitter chicory; the sauce was a bit too much for me     

-The main course was very good. Chris Pele prepared superb grilled quail having deep flavor, served with nutty celeriac puree, earthy black truffle and tasteful cuttlefish ink. Simply meticulously executed. It came with 2 side dishes: mushroom ravioli with cheese foam and sweet bread; radicchio salad with a little black truffle and Italian’s old vinegar as the dressing.

More info regarding the fish course and desserts, you could see from the link’s below. The snacks, amuse, homemade brioche … all of them was also well executed and tasty


Initially, I thought Le Clarence would be one of those 2-star places in Paris where I could put a check mark from the list. However, this lunch proved otherwise. It has become the restaurant that I am likely to return again in the future. With competent & smooth service, top wine list, opulent & tasteful dining room and delicious & balanced food under the watchful eye of quiet but talented chef Chris Pele … my hunch said this would likely be the upcoming 3-star restaurant in France - French gastronomy is not dead. It has a lot of potential to be better and I wish I could’ve eaten the 6 or 7 creations from the kitchen here. The restaurant was full with most guests speaking French.   


Pictures of the meal: https://www.flickr.com/photos/7124357@N03/albums/72157679189066998



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