L’Arpege, Paris

Alain Passard – the chef who elevated cuisine featuring mere vegetables to the next higher-level, extracts all potential flavours and showcases the textures that plants can offer. I believe, it is only Alain Passard who has confidence and skill to serve six courses of vegetables to his guests while still managing a standing ovation at the end of the day.

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When I first stepped into the restaurant, I thought it felt a little crap. Decorations were unpretentions – nothing luxurious about it, but rather came across as decent and homely like a laid back bistro – a far visual departure from what one would expect from a three-star establishment.

Alain Passard pays exceptional attention to his diners. Time to time he would leave the chaotic kitchen, walk around, initiate a conversation, just to make sure his guests are enjoying their time and food. I truly appreciate chefs who does the cooking himself while also personally looking after his guests. It must be tough for the chef to manage two fronts at the same time, but for a guest, it works amazing well as it makes diners feel being taken care of. When Alain is finally done with the cooking, he would take a seat and have his lunch while desserts are served to the guests. He then took some time to entertain and bond with the remaining tables.

The chef was exceptionally nice to me as I sat next to the kitchen door by myself. He served me extra dishes and desserts. “It never ends!”, the waitress told me. I loved the turbot as much as the chicken cooked in hay. The intensely smoked potato served with the perfectly cooked turbot, with a sprinkled with sea-salt was minimalistic and divine. Alain Passard served a prune sorbet to end the meal. Prunes were in season in August – the natural sweetness and acidity was just perfect when served cold in this form.

I got to have a chat with Alain after my meal. It turns out he’s a humble and playful chef. During our conversation, I learnt that it was all because of his grandma’s cooking that led him to the gastronomic path. A portrait of his grandma was hung on the wall next to the kitchen door.

Arpege is a restaurant where you can enjoy fine three-star cuisine in a laid back, casual environment. If you’re ever in Paris, do not miss this one.

Address: 84 Rue de Varenne, 75007 Paris, France
Tel: +33 (0)1 47 05 09 06
Website: http://www.alain-passard.com

Visited on: 16 August, 2012
Price: Lunch Menu €130, Tasting Menu €360
Wine List:
Champagne: €330 (Krug MV),  €215(Egly-Ouriet Ambonnay Grand Cru), €350 Dom Perignon 2002
Two pages of Demi-bottles red and white selection, 11 pages of white wine choices, 13 pages of red wine choices, price quite reasonable as a 3* restaurant

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