French Restaurant Review: Prunier, Paris

French Restaurant Review: Prunier, Paris

“Everyone remembers their first time at Prunier,” said Ruth Reichl, food writer and former editor-in-chief of the much-loved and now-shuttered Gourmet Magazine, when we recently met for lunch at this supremely elegant Art Deco dining room behind the Arc de Triomphe.

For Reichl, it was a meal with her parents to which she wore a newly purchased little black dress. “I loved the dress, my Paris dress, but it was the food I never forgot. I think it was the first time I ever had a real sole meunière and it was so beautifully deboned tableside by a waiter in a black dinner jacket who then spooned melted butter over the golden filets of fish and the perfectly peeled and whittled boiled potatoes that accompanied it,” she told me. So I knew exactly what she’d be having as a main course.

We decided to dine at this expensive 1924 vintage grande dame of a restaurant because we wanted to sample the new menu Michelin three-star chef Yannick Alléno had recently devised for it. It didn’t disappoint either. In fact, we had an absolutely sumptuous meal.

Chef Yannick Alléno of Prunier restaurant in Paris

Both of us ordered l’oeuf Christian Dior, one of Prunier’s new signature dishes, to start. Arriving at the table, this dish seemed prim – a coddled egg in a robe of caviar-flecked, ivory-coloured cream with a jaunty snippet of chive posed on its belly as sort of teasing, minimalist boutonnière. The waiter advised us to cut the egg with a spoon all the way through so that we’d include the ham-essence flavoured aspic at the bottom of the dish with every bite, and heeding him, we had a jaw-droppingly sensual experience of runny egg yolk, cream, caviar, and porcine pleasure all at once. Langoustines in caviar cream were excellent, too, but less surprising than the astonishing egg, an edible work of art.

“I think this might just be the most beautiful restaurant in the world,” Ruth said, and I reminisced about the caviar-addled after-show parties hosted by the late Pierre Bergé, the co-founder of the Yves Saint Laurent fashion house, that I once attended in the private dining rooms upstairs during a long-ago job in Paris that required me to attend fashion shows. Now Prunier is newly owned by the Swiss investment group OLMA Luxury Holdings, but the magic of this place survives intact.

Langoustines served in a caviar cream © Nicolas Lobbestael

The rest of the menu – including original dishes like a very refreshing starter of celery aspic with tomato water and caviar and linguine with a succulent lobster bolognaise and superb renditions of such Paris comfort-food classics as breaded fried whiting – was impeccable, too. Prunier is a wonderful choice for a justifiably extravagant night out on the town in Paris for seafood lovers.

16 Avenue Victor Hugo, 16th arrondissement, Paris.

Lunch menu €68, set menus €125 or €190.

Tel. (33) 01 44 17 35 85

From France Today magazine

Lead photo credit : The main dining room at Prunier in Paris © Nicolas Lobbestael

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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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