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Hélène Samuel is a food guru extraordinaire, her ideas are spot-on, remember Delicabar Snack Chic at Le Bon Marché? This chic chick thinks in flavours, hardly surprising as a graduate of Sciences-Po Paris and Institut des Hautes Etudes du Goût. HS definitely prefers the rattle of pots and pans, the tension before service to files and faxes. “Admin today in France is kafkaesque,” she sighs.
Since 2007 Hélène has been heading Café Pleyel, on the second floor of Paris’s most prestigious concert hall. The Café, a large airy modern space with Cocteau-style black and white wall paintings, long bar and edgy furniture, is packed at lunch, pre-theatre, during concert intervals.
Buzz caught up with Hélène just before she left for The Abu Dhabi Food Festival: a ten-day culinary journey showcasing the world’s top chefs, Passard, Heinz Beck, Atul Kochar, Santi Santamaria and Aussie heartthrob Curtis Stone. Among all the raw testosterone there’s a few women, such as the fabulous Italian 3-star Annie Feolde of Enoteca Pinchiori, Florence.
For each musical season, Hélène invites a chef to take over Café Pleyel’s kitchens. There was Sonia Ezgulian, David Zuddas and until July there’s the talented Italian Laura Zavan. There’s no truth in the rumour that they need a “Z” to qualify, but they do need talent. “I like the dishes to taste of the forbidden, the illicit, the subversive,” Hélène explains.
Until July chef Zavan (www.laurazavan.com) is serving a French menu with Italian accents. “There are certain dishes that have become ‘Pleyel Classics,’ we can’t take them off the menu, such as Pleyel Burger, my way it’s cooked with tomates confites, oignons rouges poêlés, and frites de polenta, and served it with a generous side salad of roquette.” Laura’s “Ouvertures” include Pasta & fagioli, soupe de haricots “borloti” avec pâtes, comme à Venise. Salade de fenouil, salade d’artichauts crus et cuits and Burrata, mozza crémeuse des Poilees et légumes grillées.
To follow it’s hard to resist the Hamburger, inspired by Daniel Boulud in NYC. “If he dared do it, why shouldn’t we,” reasons Hélène. Or go for Dorade Royale, en habit croustillant de câpres et tomates confites, légumes dorées en fines tranches. The excellent Michael Ejzenbaum—he’s the one with the signature suspenders—will suggest suitable wines. And Laura’s desserts are light and lovely, as in her version of Tiramisu, called “Remonte-Moi.”
At lunch there’s always a dish of the day (18€), choice of 5 starters, 8 mains and wicked Italian desserts. The main menu is only served mid-day, and the Salle buzzes with a hip crowd. Pre-concert there are interesting tapas style dishes, 20€ with a glass of wine, 25€ with a flute of champagne and, neat idea, pre-order to eat during the interval, “call it ‘picnic chic,'” suggests Laura.
252 rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, 8
T: 01 53 75 28 44
Average spend 40€ + wine
Pre-concert Picnic Chic from 6:30 pm
Bread & Roses, the left bank bakery-deli-restaurant-take-away, launched by Philippe and Carole Tailleur six years ago on rue Madame, has gone uptown. And how, right next door to the Hermes flagship store. The new 50-seater eatery features the sort of food you’d expect considering the luxe-location and where trying to get your name on the list for a Birkin can give you a huge appetite darling. Probably because Victoria Beckham’s bagged them all. Don’t tell her about Bread & Roses, why should she have it all, after all.
The décor, by Philippe Tailleur, is glass, exposed brick, stone, American elm wood and a handsome pewter bar behind which mixologist Virgil concocts juices and cocktails. There’s an excellent wine list and fine collection of Armagnacs, Guy Lheraud brandies and cognacs as well as whiskies and ports. Tailleur’s a tall friendly man with a special affinity for England’s green and pleasant where he spent time studying and now spends time holidaying. “We make the best Ploughman’s here,” he promises.
The Tailleurs are a team, “he’s front of house, I’m admin, he gets the better deal,” observes Carole. “Look, our philosophy is we put on your plate what we want on our plate, it’s got to be the best,” insists Tailleur, conveniently changing the subject.
Bread and Roses opens for breakfast, a real treat with rare teas and coffees, freshly baked brioche, fruit, muesli, hazelnut and honey bread, croissants and pastries. About 24 perfect breads are made with organic flour, baked daily in l’Atelier on rue de la Glacière.
Behind the high glass counter mile-high quiches and generous flaky pastry tarts topped with fresh sardines, savoury tarts, sides of Scottish salmon, Jabugo hams, French caviar, English Stilton and Cheddar cheeses, pastries, fat scones, fresh crab and lobster salads are made to order in the open kitchen. Desserts include Philadelphia NY Cheese Cake, Tarte Tatin, Mont Blanc and a wicked Sticky Toffee Pudding. Maitre d’hotel Patrice Willems (ex-Crillon and Les Crayères, Reims) is turned on by the B & R concept. “This is how people want to eat now,” he observes.
Bread & Roses
25 rue Boissy d’Anglas, 8th
T: 01 47 42 40 00
Open Monday-Saturday for breakfast, lunch, tea and dinner
Average Spend: 40€ + wine
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