THE BEST TEN HOTEL RESTAURANTS IN PARIS
Our favourite iconic places to eat in the city
In a city where food is frequently the star of the show and may be the main reason for travelling, the hotel we choose usually has a lot to do with where we want to eat. So before you book your next trip to Paris – where food and wine are the passion and lifeblood of the city – check out our Editor-at-Large Alison Holmes’ overview of some of LuxuryBARED’s favourite, iconic restaurants in ten of the City of Light’s best-loved hotels. But be warned – after reading this you’ll probably want to try every one, so whatever you do, plan to stay a while.
Le Meurice – Le Meurice by Alain Ducasse
In no particular order then, I’ll begin with Le Meurice by Alain Ducasse at Le Meurice. I carefully consider what to wear when I dine at this Michelin two-starred venue and feel like I should be tucking some snuff into my bag, donning silk stockings and powdering my hair while getting dressed for dinner. Because Philippe Starck took inspiration from Versailles’ resplendent Salon de la Paix (the drawing room with the painting depicting Louis XV offering an olive branch to Europe) when he designed this glorious restaurant.
And the food is equally fabulous. ‘Le Meurice by Alain Ducasse is one of the most stunning restaurants you will ever see, with service and food to match,’ says LuxuryBARED reviewer Diana Cherry. Truer words were never spoken. Termed ‘essential cuisine’, it’s exceptional fare that retains its true flavours from the farm to your plate – everything from A to Z is executed in the most sustainable manner under the watchful eye of chef Jocelyn Herland.
When in France I usually gravitate to traditional French dishes, so I ordered duckling à l’orange from the à la carte menu. It was sensational and with all the trimmings. There’s also a Collection Menu – five courses for dinner or you can go with three at lunch.
You may also want to try The Chef’s Table experience for something different, but it’s for a minimum of four and a maximum of eight people, so you’ll have to rustle up a few friends to eat here. With its open-kitchen concept you can converse with the chefs while the meal unfolds before you, and chances are you’ll learn a little about the art of la cuisine Française, or at least how to dress a salad.
Le Bristol Paris – Epicure
LuxuryBARED Founder Grant Holmes dined at Epicure when he stayed at Le Bristol Paris. He says he couldn’t have slept soundly if he hadn’t eaten at the Michelin three-starred restaurant. ‘Epicure restaurant – dine here at least once in your lifetime,’ he recommends.
He went on to explain why. ‘Overseen by chef Eric Fréchon, referred to in culinary circles as the ‘defender of French cuisine’, the food is exceptional and takes on a contemporary twist without losing any traditional touches. I forgot about my waistline while boldly munching stuffed macaroni with black truffle and foie gras, followed by pigeon glazed with spicy honey and served with a pine-nut crumble of fennel, onion and cumin. It was the stuff dreams are made of.
‘The accompanying service was faultless, as were the wines served with each dish that the sommelier proposed. This is French cuisine executed to perfection and, irrespective of the coronary-inducing prices, was worth every euro.’
Shangri-La Hotel – L’Abeille
Shangri-La Hotel, at 10 Avenue d’Iéna with views over the Seine and the Eiffel Tower, occupies the opulent 19th-century mansion originally built for Prince Roland Bonaparte, Napoleon’s grand-nephew. And its gastronomic restaurant, L’Abeille, named after Napoleon’s official emblem (the bumblebee), with its two Michelin stars, is a masterpiece.
Chef Christophe Moret (of Alain Ducasse in the Hotel Plaza Athénée until a few years ago) has created quite a buzz here with his exquisitely prepared food. Be adventurous and try the fried frog legs with morel mushrooms, hazelnut and cocoa powder, which is spectacularly French, followed by the marinated and preserved Aveyron lamb shoulder.
The restaurant offers a tasting menu, with wines harmoniously selected to match the nuance and texture of each dish. And although it’s not something that leaps straight to mind when one thinks of French haute cuisine, there are full options for vegans too.
But save room for dessert. In keeping with the whole bee theme, there’s usually a honey-related creation on the menu along with several other irresistible choices. How does frosted Corsican honey perfumed with lemon and eucalyptus sound?
Mandarin Oriental, Paris – Sur Mesure by Thierry Marx
Not only is Thierry Marx’s food on any list of France’s finest but the head sommelier, David Biraud, was awarded vice-champion at the Best Sommelier of the World 2016. LuxuryBARED Founder Grant Holmes had the most exquisite meal at Sur Mesure at Mandarin Oriental, Paris, where he enjoyed the much-lauded miso lobster, which was ‘perfectly poached and the miso was piquant-sweet without being overpowering’. Following which he ordered the Wasabi Beef Miyazaki, which ‘tasted utterly delicious and looked like it should be in The Louvre’.
Almost everything inside this restaurant is white (chairs, tables, place settings) – a style choice of ultra-modern decor that was, I would guess, selected not to detract from the colours of the food and the dining experience in general. The little private dining nooks and spaces make this restaurant a perfect choice for lovers, or anyone celebrating a special occasion.
Holmes finished the evening with the little bento box of sweet treats served after every meal. As he said: ‘Unforgettable.’
The Ritz, Paris – La Table de l’Espadon
The whole of Paris celebrated when the iconic Ritz hotel reopened in 2016, following a facelift that cost €200 million and took almost four years to complete. But the wait was worth it, for both the hotel as a whole and the elegant, dynamic restaurant. There is a lot of culinary fame and history at this beloved property and there’s a whole lot to love, especially at La Table de L’Espadon, where chef Nicolas Sale (the tenth chef to reign here in the hotel’s 120 years), heads up this Michelin two-starred restaurant (dinner only).
Appetisers, entrées and dessert courses focus on one ingredient prepared in several different ways. Dishes to die for include the dim sum stuffed with confit leg of duck (from the ‘duck’ in the appetisers) and the milk-fed lamb with chick-pea cream and lemon spicy juice – a symphony of delicious and delicate flavours. This type of lamb is a superstar in France, only available at certain times of the year and not to be missed when you see it on the menu. The cheese course is one of life’s guilty pleasures when in France, and here you have the chance to let the sommelier select something fabulous to pair it all with. And then there’s dessert…
If it’s lunch you’re looking for, the hotel offers a new concept for noontime dining (something almost revolutionary for France) in Les Jardins de L’Espadon, the Michelin one-starred restaurant. Within the atrium of the property’s gracious gardens, it serves a three-course lunch that takes little more than an hour. It also hosts a Brunch du Ritz on Saturdays and Sundays. To top it all, both restaurants are open seven days a week, something almost unheard of in this town.
The Peninsula Paris – LiLi
Grant Holmes, who never says no to a good meal (especially in Paris), says: ‘LiLi at The Peninsula Paris is a showstopper; you simply must dine here once in your life.’
He goes on to explain: ‘Given Peninsula Hotels’ ancestry, one expects a good Chinese restaurant, especially in Paris, where culinary resources are found in abundance. And so I was not surprised when I discovered that LiLi’s Cantonese offerings are nothing short of spectacular.
‘I started with the chilled Brittany squid with coriander, shallots and chilli. The flavours were perfectly balanced with just the right amount of spice and beautifully presented. For the main course I went with the Sichuan tenderloin served in a steaming, spicy broth that was utterly delicious. My side-dish of kimchi fried rice with Alaskan crab was the perfect accompaniment.
‘The gorgeous interior sets the scene with its myriad beautiful fabrics, billowing silks and stunning chandeliers. Designed and decorated to evoke memories of the Ming Dynasty and the elegant atmosphere of a Chinese opera, this room sets the senses alight – it’s quite extraordinary.’
And so is the food. Don’t be fooled by the rather brief and humble descriptions of each dish, for in the hands of Chef Tang, who’s been with the Peninsula for many years, you’re in good hands. For lunch, the tasting menu of dim sum served with a main, such as roasted Peking duck, is tasty and tantalising from start to finish. There’s a chef’s table option for dinner, especially fun if you’re in a group, and service is impeccable and discreet. Confucius, himself a reported foodie, supposedly said: ‘Don’t consume food that is not well cooked.’ Hear, hear.
Hotel de Crillon – L’Ecrin
After a major four-year renovation the Hotel de Crillon reopened in all its sleek, dazzling resplendence in 2017. Its new restaurant, L’Ecrin (which means jewellery box), is an elegant but small dining room seating only 22, so be sure to reserve your table early as it promises great joy in a very bijou setting.
I used to go to the Hotel de Crillon’s previous restaurant, Les Ambassadeurs, before the renovation. The fine-dining restaurant was very formal and, having one Michelin star, was one of Paris’s top restaurants at the time. It was run by chef Christopher Hache and I’m glad to say he’s returned after travelling far and wide for inspiration. He has to work his way back up to his one Michelin star for L’Ecrin, his new fine-dining establishment, but with his creative menu that’s ‘readable, seasonal and full of flavours’, he seems poised to do just that. There’s a choice of two tasting menus at set prices, with wine pairings if you wish. Don’t miss out on the ‘famous’ mushroom dish, slow cooked for fourteen hours, which is sure to impress.
Hotel Plaza Athénée – Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée
Diana Cherry, LuxuryBARED’s reviewer, who gets to go to all the best places, describes her dining experience thus: ‘This is an area in which Hotel Plaza Athénée excels. There is huge emphasis on the quality of the food and drink, and there is just as much importance placed on the surroundings and service.’
Romain Meder, head chef of this Michelin three-starred showpiece restaurant, will truly dazzle you with his presentations, all created around Ducasse’s fish-vegetables-cereal trilogy. That’s right, don’t come here expecting to dine on foie gras, a partridge, or anything else that walks the Earth, but rather, sit down comfortably in this most beautiful of rooms and get ready to eat like a king, and a health-conscious one at that.
Start with a pile of brightly coloured and perfectly cooked vegetables from the Château de Versailles gardens, with which the restaurant has an exclusive agreement, before mains such as San Remo wild gamberoni served with almond-tree buds and flowers and brown morels. All ingredients are sourced locally and with a serious nod to the environment.
You may need a king’s ransom to pay the bill as prices are steep for such fabulousness. But as Cherry so rightly comments: ‘It was a bucket-list experience.’ An experience, take note, that is only available Thursday and Friday for lunch, and Monday through Friday for dinner.
La Résérve – Le Gabriel
LuxuryBARED’s reviewer, Claire Parsons, praised the establishment on a recent visit. ‘Le Gabriel, La Résérve’s restaurant, was awarded a Michelin two-star rating in 2016 and offers an impressive wine list to satisfy even the toughest critics.’
Fashioned and designed by Paris’s guru of acclaimed taste and style, Jacques Garcia, Le Gabriel’s beautiful and elegant yet understated interiors complement the overall feel and decor of this very grand ‘palace’ hotel.
Executive chef Jérôme Banctel (previously of Lucas Carton and Le Crillon, among others) will take you on a culinary adventure you won’t soon forget. Awarded two Michelin stars after only one year in operation, Banctel seems to have stamina and energy, and a great team behind him too. The à la carte menu, offered alongside two tasting menus, offers contemporary French cuisine inspired by the seasons, with wines proposed to match each dish. The coriander-flavoured Brittany artichoke heart and the Vendée pigeon with cacao and crunchy buckwheat are signature dishes at Le Gabriel. Alternatively, there are some langoustines (also from Brittany, as is the chef) on the menu that are sure to appeal to seafood lovers.
The hotel’s official description of Banctel’s cuisine states: ‘It is not about a delirious avant-garde frenzy but instead has just enough creativity to give each dish the excitement of a first time.’ I’m not sure what that means exactly but OK: the food comes up trumps.
Four Seasons George V – Le Cinq, Le George, L’Orangerie
And finally, the city’s culinary jewel in the hotel crown is the Four Seasons Hotel George V, which has three restaurants with Michelin stars. Le George and L’Orangerie each have one, and Le Cinq has three. As such, it’s the first hotel in Europe to have three Michelin-starred restaurants under one roof.
The three uniquely talented chefs each offer something special and unforgettable. But for this list we’ll focus only on Le Cinq. Spacious and bright, the room is decorated in shades of gold and grey and gives diners the feeling they are guests in a private château. The food is cooked on the lighter side; gone are the days of overly rich French sauces and butter-laden dishes. The emphasis here is on regionally sourced, seasonal quality ingredients. Chef Christian Le Squer defines his cuisine as being ‘flavours, concentrated and moving’. Grant Holmes says Le Squer, with his three Michelin stars, ‘holds an almost god-like status in the culinary world’ – and rightly so.
As Holmes commented when he was invited here for dinner one night: ‘Who would have thought that humble asparagus could be elevated to such culinary heights which, served with Château-Chalon wine mousse, was sublime – a piece of art on a plate? My main course, line-caught sea bass with caviar and a buttermilk sauce, looked like a small sculpture. I don’t often eat dessert, but on this occasion the crunchy coffee mousse with blackberries (and a creamy caramel and whisky sauce) was irresistible and delicious.’
With wines from all over the world, some 50,000 bottles, the cellar is a historian’s treasure trove (especially those partial to un coup de rouge). The oldest bottle is a 1792 Madeira, and the most expensive is a magnum Pétrus from 1964, which will set you back 40,000 euros but will certainly guarantee you a moment in the George V’s illustrious history.
The hotel is, without a doubt, a paradise for food-focused travellers lucky enough to find themselves anywhere near 31 Avenue George V. For here, there’s a serious choice of feasts fit for the gods.