by Mark Golodetz
by John Mariani
If you want to stay in the most centrally located boutique hotel in Paris, drop your bags at the 29-room Hôtel de Vendôme, adjacent to the city’s omphalos point, the Place de Vendôme.
Opened just three years ago, the hotel has 29 very quiet rooms, each with a wonderful view of the streets of the First Arrondissement, just off the Place itself, close to the Rue Faubourg-St. Honoré, and a stone's throw from the Louvre. The building was once a private mansion of the Vendôme family, built in 1723 and converted into a hotel in 1907. Single and doubles rooms have queen size beds, deluxe doubles have king or twin beds, a junior suite a dressing room and sitting room, a deluxe suite has a separate living room and one and a half baths--all done in the Empire style of décor, while the extravagant Presidential Suite is on the top floor, done in Art Déco. The photo at the left is taken from a balcony room. I love the amenities here, including good closet space and a set of stationery and utensils in a leather case at your desk.
I also like the idea that, if you arrive overnight, you can erase your jetlag by dropping your bags here, strolling the Place Vendôme, and having a light lunch, then flopping into the big soft beds for a nap, the shutters and curtains stifling the noise outside. The dining room here overlooks the Place Vendôme from the first floor (right), and in the afternoon the hotel offers a unique afternoon Coffee Time, with desserts and ice creams, as well as sweets from La Chocolaterie de l'Opera, from 3 PM-7 PM.
FOR THE BIG SPLURGE
25 Avenue Montaigne
+33 (0)1 53 67 64 00
one of the most beautiful and glamorous of Paris’s
“grand châteaux” hotels is the Plaza-Athenée,
with two Alain Ducasse-run restaurants. For the
holidays the hotel is offering both a Romantic
package with Deluxe Room, Champagne and
chocolates, access to the Sauna & Hamman at
the Dior Spa, and breakfast, from 950 euros. Also a
Family Package of two connecting rooms, children’s
breakfast and gifts, cookies upon arrival, and
access to the hotel’s own Christmas ice rink, from
A MOST CIVILIZED
Since the iconic Hemingway Bar at the
Ritz is now closed for the hotel’s two-year rehab,
the intimate Bar Anglais at the Hôtel
Raphael near the Arc de Triomphe and Champs
Élysée (the Metro Station is steps
away) has become an oasis of cool chic and classic French
style, with bartenders who really care about
everything that goes into their cocktails. It’s a
Parisian bartenders come to drink.
A POP-UP IN PARIS
enough, the biggest buzz on the dining scene in
Paris right now is the three-month pop-up of a
Nobu restaurant taking over La Cuisine at Le Royal Monceau Raffles Hotel. All
Nobu Matsuhisa’s signature dishes are here--sea urchin sushi and Ōtoro and chūtoro tuna
sashimi, Chilean sea bass with a jalapeño
pepper sauce, spicy tuna sushi rolls and Kushiyaki
skewers of Wagyu beef—all done with the finest
French ingredients and graceful service. The
hotel, under the ownership of the itself
draws an entertainment biz clientele, and the
rooms are themed to musicians, like the Ray
Charles Suite (below).
WHOSE PRICES ARE NOT
9 Place de la Madeleine
+33 01 42 65 22 90
This being autumn, it was nice to begin our meal with foie gras of silky texture came with fava beans and wonderful bread, and I had to order a new turn on one of Senderens' signature dishes--one I had back in the 1980s when he had a restaurant in NYC: then, it was made with lobster but now as open ravioli flavored with vanilla, served with spinach. That addition of vanilla 30 years ago was one of the signal moments for la nouvelle cuisine, and the flavor, if now not unusual, was a delectable as ever.
A more classic side was shown impeccably with a rabbit à la royale to his own signature dish, its reduction a textbook lesson in how to intensify flavors, as was pigeon with corn and a puree of peas. Scallops were creamy and good, with glazed turnips and the crunch of hazelnuts.
The desserts included a mousseline of pumpkin with vanilla jelly and bourbon ice cream, lemon zest and "chips" of pumpkin, as well as "pom. . . pom. . .pom," a dessert of apple confit, cooked very slowly, and roasted in wine.
When this was Lucas Carton, a meal back n 2004 could easily reach 200 euros per person, but Senderens wanted a broader, younger clientele, which he has most certainly gotten here, and now, ordering à la carte, you might have a sumptuous meal for about 90 euros. The loss in formality is now a gain in modern charm.
you’ve just gotten out of the Louvre or coming
from too much shopping on the Rue Faubourg and
missed lunch, you can still dine well after 2 PM
at Camélia in the Mandarin-Oriental Hotel,
Rue Faubourg, open from 7 AM through 11 AM. Eat
light, maybe a pâté in
crust with herb salad (28 euros) or crab ravioli
with infused yuzu
(31 euros). There are also heftier items like
Barbary duck with orange-glazed turnips and
cabbage and lamb with dried fruits and a butternut
ACROSS THE SEINE
15th arrondissement on the Left Bank is
becoming increasingly attractive to gastronomes,
driven by the appropriately named Le
Quinzième (“fifteen”) run by the movie
star-handsome Cyril Lignac (below), who
in fact has one of the city’s most popular TV
With its open kitchen and forest colors,
it’s a very romantic spot in the evening but draws
a full crowd at lunch, when the sumptuous
three-course lunch at 49 euros is one of the
city’s great bargains.
This is cuisine with a light, modern touch of a kind that makes such a lunch less an extravagance than it might be across the Seine. The whole enterprise has the sense of being chic but unpretentious, stylish without being fleetingly fashionable. Lignac will be around for a long, long time and Quinzième hints at what may come in the future.
NEW YORK CORNER
by John Mariani
ATRIO Wine Bar Restaurant
102 North End Avenue
Zamorra, who works out of a great-looking, very
open kitchen, is touching all bases, with small
plates, stone-fired pizzas, and a good dose of
Italian dishes, and he and his staff are putting
in the time to make it all consistently
good. It's a very contemporary menu, with a
little for everyone, starting with crudo seafood
and a quartet of warm-from-the-grill crostini,
including a delightful one with ricotta,
truffle honey and sea salt (right), and
another of roasted tomatoes, hot soppressata,
NOTES FROM THE WINE CELLAR
DANCING IN THE VINEYARDS AT CHÂTEAU ANGELUS!
by Mark Golodetz
The French love their classifications. I have always felt that it's their way of keeping the universe in order, and it remains one of their more endearing traits. As far as wine is concerned, the Granddaddy and the most famous of all classifications was done in Bordeaux in 1855 when the merchants sat down and put one together for the Médoc, mostly based on the prices the wines were fetching in the marketplace. Although not the first, it was the one that stuck. In the more than one hundred and fifty years since it was done, there have been only two changes, Cantermerle was added in 1856 and Château Mouton Rothschild was elevated to first growth in 1973.
Things are a little more fluid in St. Émilion, an appellation based around the beautiful medieval town on the right bank of the Gironde River. Its classification began in 1955 and changes every ten years, when châteaux may be promoted or demoted. While it would be hard for even the most ardent American wine lover to distinguish differences between a Grand Cru Class and a Grand Cru, it is extremely important to the locals. There are financial implications as well as social ones: the price of vineyards, the status within the community, and recent performance are all measured by the classification. Demotion is a disaster for the estates involved and has led, inevitably, to litigation. Such was the case in 2006, when a number of châteaux sued, and after a prolonged legal battle, the decision was taken to revoke the outcome, and redo it in 2012. After all the legal bloodshed, there were many who thought the authorities would play it safe in 2012, but that was not the case. There were one or two demotions, but most people focussed on the estates that got promoted, most notably Angelus and Pavie, moved up to Premier Grand Cru Classé A, the very highest level in the classification. Both châteaux are now bracketed with the two other Grand Cru As, Ausone and Cheval Blanc, the first changes at this level since 1955.
Not surprisingly, the owners are ecstatic, but their elevation is in itself not altogether surprising. Angelus has been making extremely good wines for many years, and recently, they have begun a fairly serious program to rebuild the cellars, which should be ready in time for the 2013 harvest. The first thing to be finished were the new estate bells, and I arrived in Bordeaux last month to watch them be inaugurated by the Archbishop of Bordeaux. As one would expect from a château on the cutting edge, the bells are also modern, controlled by computer, and able to launch into everything from the "Star Spangled Banner" to the "Angelus" itself.
has a reputation for making wines that are more modern
in style, yet a tasting the night before the
celebration showed how brilliantly the wines are able
to reflect their terroir. We tasted the last fifteen
vintages in bottle, a good way to gauge the quality
and consistency of any wine. As
one would expect, the best vintages were brilliant:
2010 just edging its younger sister the '09, the 2005
extremely promising, and the 2000 arguably the best
wine there, although the 1998 was probably better to
drink now. Lesser vintages also showed well; the 2004,
2006, and 2008 were all superb and very classic. Even
difficult vintages such as 2003 and 1997 were
showing beautifully. With the exception of 1995 (a
poor bottle; I have had much better versions of it),
all the wines were impressive. There's little doubt
that Angelus can justify its new place of the top of
the St. Émilion hierarchy by the only thing
they should be judged, the wines they are
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