If there are many Michelin-starred tables in the Golden Triangle, that prime parcel of Parisian turf bound by the Champs-Élysées, Avenue Georges V and Avenue Montaigne, it’s more of a challenge to find a stylish, relaxed, reasonably-priced restaurant for a quiet tête-à-tête or a celebratory meal of inventive, well- executed, contemporary French cooking.
This is why chef Frédéric Vardon’s restaurant 39V has always been sort of an insider’s address, or a place the natives go to rub shoulders with the top-brass executives from nearby luxury goods companies, the occasional famous face, and the most-favoured clients of the most knowing concierges at local luxury hotels like the Four Seasons George V, the Plaza Athénée and the just-opened Bulgari Hotel.
Recently completely redesigned by talented interior architect Raphaël Navot, this sixth-floor penthouse table overlooking the rooftops of Paris and a central atrium has an alluring new chic created by solid butcher-block style walnut parquet floors, earth-toned banquettes and chairs at solid wood tables. Tables are generously spaced, and this is an exceptionally attractive and comfortable dining room in which to discover Vardon’s regularly changing menu.
“At heart, I’m an aubergiste,” says the amiable Vardon, a native of Normandy who was trained by Alain Chapel and Alain Ducasse, which means that his priorities as a chef-restaurateur are generosity and an elegant and very logical gastronomic simplicity.
Joining jet-lagged friends from Boston for dinner, we feasted on an exquisitely well made terrine of duck foie gras with a fascinating condiment of quince and wormwood essence, dressed crab from Boulogne-sur- Mer, and leeks vinaigrette with black truffle shavings to start. Next, two of us had the sumptuous scallop mousse with a garnish of brook trout roe and two of us had the John Dory with artichokes in a sauce of vin jaune and shellfish juice, a dish with a subtle sensuality that was profoundly satisfying.
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Don’t miss the Mont Blanc with grilled chestnuts and the chocolate mousse goosed with Espelette pepper from the Basque Country, the chocolate having an unexpected affinity with the pleasantly smoky taste of the tiny horn-shaped peppers. Few restaurants in Paris are as effortlessly urbane as Le 39V.
39V, 39 Avenue Georges V, 8th Arrondissement, Paris, Tel. (33) 01 56 62 39 05, www.le39v.com
From France Today magazine
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Images © Jean-François Mallet, Thomas Behuret, Julien Bouvier, Yann Deret
Lead photo credit : A dish of fresh langoustines with a rémoulade sauce