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Letter from Paris: Dining Preview 2011

Pierre Jancou is opening a new restaurant this year.

By Alexander Lobrano

Though I was very happily shacked up on the East End of Long Island for the New Year (where I ate as many Peconic Bay scallops as I could get my hands on, and also gorged myself on barbecued little-neck clams as part of a superb New Year’s Eve dinner), I’m already looking forward to an exciting new year on the Paris restaurant scene. To wit, they’re lots of major openings in the wings, and for all of those places that can make themselves known early through major PR noise, I know they’re also many talented young chefs who’ll be greeting the arrival of 2011 with no small trepidation as the one in which they decided to take the plunge and open their own restaurants. It is, of course, these small independent tables that interest me most, since even though I’ve been writing about Paris restaurants for 25 years, there’s nothing as fascinating and often moving as the birth of a new restaurant.

**Two new restaurants will debut at the just-opened Paris Shangri-La Hotel in early 2011. The French haute-cuisine table will be run by chef Philippe Labbé, and the Shang Place, a gourmet Cantonese table, will have a team of Hong Kong chefs. The one I’m excited about is the Cantonese table.
**Meert, the Lille patisserie famous for the cream-filled waffle biscuits that were Charles de Gaulle’s favorite nibble, opens its first Paris shop on the rue d’Elzevir in the Marais in early 2011.
**Pierre Jancou, founder of the cult bistrot a vins Racines, opens a new restaurant in early 2011 in a 1900 vintage shop-front with a landmarked faience tile interior in the 10th arrondissement.
**As the new generation of incredibly talented young bistro cooks in Paris continues to grow, next up is young chef Bertrand Grebaut, ex L’Agape (one star), who will open a bistro of his own in March 2011 in the 11th arrondissement.
**Formerly based in Nice, Japanese chef Keisuke Matsushima of the one-star Kei’s Passion, will take over Gerald Besson’s much-lamented old restaurant–Besson was a superb game cook and one of the most underrated chefs in Paris, on the edge of Les Halles in April 2011. Having known Matsushima’s cooking for many years, however, I predict that this new place will usefully jolt the local dining scene, since the Zen-Med cooking served in Nice is seriously good, seriously original.
**An organic-themed restaurant overlooking a potager (vegetable garden) in the park of La Villette looks set to be one of the hot tables of summer 2011 when in opens in late June/early July with with an interior by star architects Gilles & Boissier, who most recently did the stunning Minipalais restaurant at the Grand Palais exhibition hall.
**Also just in time for summer 2011, the two restaurants at l’Orée du Bois, Porte Maillot, Bois de Boulogne will feature a decor by the architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte. I hope they’ll also have great terraces and reasonable prices, in which case they could be warm-weather hits.
**Young chef Gilles Choukroun will open a restaurant overlooking the Bassin de la Villette in June 2011. The menu will have a “strong Parisian identity,” aka a menu that amps up the increasingly important locavore trend in Paris.
**Chef Thierry Marx, France’s best-known molecular-cuisine chef, will open a restaurant in the new Paris Mandarin Oriental hotel in June 2011.
**And the grand finale of 2011 may well be the transfer of chef Guy Savoy’s three-star table from the rue Troyon in the 17th arrondissement  to new space at the Hotel de la Monnaie with décor by Jean-Michel Wilmotte.

Alexander Lobrano was Gourmet magazine’s European correspondent from 1999 until its recent closing. Lobrano has written for almost every major food and travel magazine since he became an American in Paris in 1986. He is the author of “Hungry for Paris”  (Random House), his personal selection of the city’s 102 best  restaurants, which Alice Waters has called “a wonderful guide to eating in Paris.” Lobrano’s Letter from Paris runs every month in Everett Potter’s Travel Report. Visit his website, Hungry for Paris.

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  2. February 2, 2011 at 3:46 pm — Reply

    […] Letter from Paris: Dining Preview 2011 | Everett Potter's Travel … Tweets that mention Letter from Paris Dining Preview 2011 | Everett Potter's Travel Report — says: January 31, 2011 at 00:28 pm. [. ] This post was mentioned on Twitter by everettpotter and Tripatini.com, Europe Express. […]

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