Mad About Paris, Much more than a guide
Le Bristol is one of these very plush Grand Hotels where you can experience the splendid life of the happy few. It’s only a stone’s throw from the Elysée Palace, the current occupant of which – Nicolas Sarkozy – is said to be a regular costumer. This honour has caused the Bristol‘s chef Eric Fréchon some grief. In 2009, when the Guide Michelin finally awarded him the maximum 3-star-listing, the decision was instantly decried as biased, to say the least. François Simon, France’s most influential food critic, criticized Michelin’s pick in harsh terms, claiming that Fréchon’s cooking wasn’t really where it’s at. “It is ‘palace cuisine’ that dazzles the bourgeois”, Simon said in an interview with the “Daily Telegraph” “but it’s not tasty: it lacks hips, it lacks flesh, it lacks backside, it lacks life”.
Unfortunately, Simon would appear to be right. When we tested the cuisine in June 2010, spending over 700 Euros (850 US$) for a dinner-for-two, we got up from our table very disappointed. Fréchon may be an admirable master of all cooking techniques, he may be an expert engineer of textures – but in the end he’s not a good cook. No angel has ever crossed his path.
The “Stuffed Macaroni”, Fréchon’s signature dish, stuffed “with black truffle, artichoke and duck foie gras, gratinated with mature Parmesan cheese”, was close to tasteless, and certainly sans intérêt, as the French say. The “Saddle of Lamb”, served “in a nori seaweed crust” and “herb gnocchi and puréed turnip cabbage”, was brillant for the gnocchi and dull for the rest. The same was true for the other starter we tried, Caviar from Solonge and the “Rex rabbit and octopus” creation complete with “Tandoori spices,and a purée of split and fresh peas blended with gourd oil”.
A weird experience, in fact, because normally you can expect a fantastic evening onve you’ve booked a table at a 3-star-temple in Paris. So beware of Le Bristol. Heaven knows why the Michelin testers think this restaurant belongs to the top tier of the world’s finest places to eat. They’re wrong.Le Bristol 112, rue du Faubourg Saint Honoré 75008 Paris 00 33 (0)22.214.171.124.40. Métro: Miromesnil