Restaurant Review: Nonos et Comestibles in Paris

Restaurant Review: Nonos et Comestibles in Paris

Having a restaurant with two or three Michelin stars has long been part of the boilerplate for Paris Palace hotels, as the most exclusive five-star hotels in Paris are known. But recently this looks set to be changing. Notably, chef Alain Ducasse was sent packing from his three-star eponymous table at the Hôtel Plaza Athénée and replaced by Jean Imbert, a much younger chef with a career as much piloted by social media as his kitchen skills. More recently, L’Espadon, the gastronomic restaurant at the Ritz, has been closed for more than a year while a young female chef settles into the hotel’s kitchens.

What many Paris hotel general managers seem to have concluded is that post-Covid, everyone wants a good time. So at the Hôtel de Crillon, cue the arrival of chef Paul Pairet, the Shanghai-based expat gastro Gaul who has a Michelin three-star called Ultraviolet, and two other popular tables – Mr & Mrs Bund and Polux – in China’s largest city.

Well-known to the Shanghai-based Rosewood Group that now owns the Hôtel de Crillon, Pairet was brought on board to create a sexy French grill restaurant to replace the rather dull Brasserie d’Aumont, the Crillon’s second table.

©Virginie Garnier

Further emphasising the shift from traditional to something sensual, interior designer Christian Auer, who just signed the interiors for the renovated Hôtel Carlton in Cannes, was hired to give Pairet’s new restaurant an edgy décor. And despite the exasperatingly incomprehensible name of this place – a nonos is a ‘small bone’ in French children’s slang (I don’t understand it either) and ‘comestibles’ means edible things – they’ve both succeeded… or at least they have for anyone who’s willing to pony up for some rather stiff prices.

What Pairet has basically done is create a French version of an American steakhouse that also winks at the many years he’s lived in Asia. Among the cooked starters (as opposed to those like caviar, oysters and charcuterie, including a pâté en croûte from the superb Parisian charcutier Arnaud Nicolas, that are served straight up), the Gruyère soufflé and grilled octopus with “chilli- ioli” (chilli-spiked aïoli) are the best choices. When it comes to the meat of the matter, there’s a selection of luxury cuts of beef from France, America, Austria and Japan, but the carved-to- order tableside prime rib is the best choice, if available. For those who prefer seafood, the lobster fricassée, grilled sea bass, sole meunière and black cod Hong Kong style are all good.

It struck as cheese-paring to charge extra for sauces when we were ordering expensive cuts of beef, plus the service was slow and disorganised, but otherwise this is a pleasant restaurant in a usefully central location that’s open on Saturday and Sunday, days when it’s not always easy to find a meal in this neighbourhood. Desserts are beautifully made, too, including an impeccable tarte à la crème and a Grand Marnier soufflé.

Hôtel de Crillon, 10 Place de la Concorde, 8th arrondissement, Paris,

Tel. (33) 01 44 71 15.17, average à la carte €80.

From France Today Magazine

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Lead photo credit : ©Victor Bellot

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Alexander Lobrano grew up in Connecticut, and lived in Boston, New York and London before moving to Paris, his home today, in 1986. He was European Correspondent for Gourmet magazine from 1999 until its closing, and has written about food and travel for Saveur, Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Guardian, Travel & Leisure, Departures, Conde Nast Traveler, and many other publications in the United States and the United Kingdom. He is the author of HUNGRY FOR PARIS, 2nd Edition (Random House, 4/2014), HUNGRY FOR FRANCE (Rizzoli, 4/2014), and MY PLACE AT THE TABLE, newly published in June 2021.

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