Innovative dining at a Paris institution
Dating back to the early 20th century, Hôtel Plaza Athénée has set the bar for ultimate luxury experiences from indulgent spa treatments to impeccable dining at spots like Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée. The Plaza Athénée’s prime location on Avenue Montaigne set the stage for other high-end neighbors who would soon create what is today the most haute neighborhood in Paris. In the 1940s, Christian Dior opened his first couture house on the same street as the hotel, a setting that quickly became the designer’s favorite for capturing and inspiring his high-end collections. After a $268 million renovation in 2014, the property has taken things to even more opulent heights. One place in particular that has put a modern shine on its classic French aesthetic is Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée, the hotel’s signature dining establishment. Collaborating with world-class chef Alain Ducasse, the eponymous restaurant is a stunning display — from its extravagant décor to its innovative lunch and dinner menus and meticulous wine selections.
In the heart of what is known as the Golden Triangle, Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée is within walking distance of the Champs-Élysées and the Grand Palais, and is surrounded by elegant houses, luxury shopping and quintessential Haussmannian architecture. Re-envisioned by Patrick Jouin and Sanjit Manku, the French restaurant breaks all codes of fine dining. The radical aesthetic created at the hands of exceptional local craftsmen sparks an atmosphere that plays an important role in the overall dining experience. Keeping in line with the raw, minimalistic feel of the menu, the duo chose wooden tables, leather and clean stainless steel as the main elements of design. But at the same time, the dining area’s exploding crystal chandeliers reflect off of large silver pods that double as dinner tables. In the rear of the restaurant, during evening service only, the wall opens to expose a cabinet of fascinating culinary objects reflecting the history of tableware. Combining pieces taken from Ducasse’s personal collection as well as those gathered from great French manufacturers like Cristofle, the treasure chest encourages conversation and enhances the sense of curiosity in the restaurant.
As the name Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée suggests, the chef behind this world-class restaurant is the one and only godfather of French gastronomy. Known for his epicurean triumphs in London, Tuscany and all across Paris, Ducasse’s newly redesigned address at Hôtel Plaza Athénée could be one of his most stunning yet. Ducasse, who’s known for simple, quality ingredients that are elaborated with classic cuisine techniques, has prepared meals for royalty, penned cookbooks and started a culinary school in France. With the help of chef Romain Méder, he has this exciting new avenue for expressing his love of cooking.
The Food And Wine
A bit unusual for a world-renowned establishment, the Paris restaurant serves little meat beyond seafood. When the menu was redesigned along with the physical space, Ducasse elected to focus on a basic trio of ingredients — seafood, vegetables and grains. By having a kitchen working on making healthy, meticulously prepared cuisine, the restaurant can stand out among the city’s gastronomic scene. In true Ducasse fashion, the chef allows the products to shine in their simplicity. When you order the fresh sole, for instance, it’s matched with dandelions and morels, little else. The humble cuisine speaks for itself. Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée offers the freshest catch from respected fishmonger Gilles Jégo; vegetables and fruits that hail from the restaurant’s private garden on the grounds of the Chateau de Versailles; and hand-cultivated grains from local producers around the country.
Head sommelier Laurent Roucayrol reshaped the wine menu at the restaurant to coincide with Ducasse’s new culinary themes. Expect to see simple, mature selections such as a 1990 Laurent-Perrier Grand Siècle Brut or 1998 Chateau Rayas Chateauneuf-du-Pape Reserve. Organized by generation, the vino list organizes bottles according to their age, from five to 55 years. Roucayrol also provides a range of verticals, such as 35 years of Riesling by Trimbach.