L’Astrance


This hidden gem in the posh neighborhood across the river from the Eiffel Tower is the brainchild of two l’Arpège alums – Pascal Barbot, former sous chef and Christophe Rohat, maître d’hôtel – who earned L’Astrance’s first Michelin star within five months of opening in 2000; followed by a second and third star by 2007 & has been ranked by San Pelligrino as one of the 50 best restaurants in the world for the last 8 years.

Earning respect from an acclaimed guide is one thing, earning it from your colleagues is quite another feat altogether – something he did with ease. When Pascal first opened, several of his contemporaries invited me, saying, “He is the future of French cooking!”

Why? Barbot broke the mold on tradition by offering no menu – asking diners only to choose the number of courses and allow his kitchen team to do the rest.

Although the menu changes seasonally, dishes are most influenced by his time in the South Pacific where it was too hot to cook with cream and butter.

The result is delicate broth, langoustine, lobster, veal or duck accompanied by the likes of lemongrass, coriander, miso, jasmine, coconut milk, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, edible flowers and daikon.

Three of his signature dishes are a layered galette of raw mushrooms, foie gras with hazelnut oil & lemon confit – a tender lobster tail on spicy tomato-peanut sauce – and hollowed-out eggshell cups filled with jasmine-infused eggnog.

Pascal’s modern cooking-style is mirrored by an equally modern dining room with 25 buttery yellow leather 25 seats on the ground floor and a dozen more on the open mezzanine.

Sommelier Alexandre Jean can guide you through the extraordinary wine list or suggest by-the-glass pairings. From big Montrachet’s to small production natural wines, he’s got it. I’m usually here with outgoing wine growers – and part of our fun (and for Alexandre) is his pairings where we are left to guess what is in the glass.

Another element that sets this Michelin-star apart is its professional atmosphere versus one filled with snobbery and elitism. The first time I was introduced at the door to M. Rohat, I kissed his cheek and said, “Bonjour Monsieur” and he replied, “Please, call me Christophe.”

Whether you’re on a first date or with a lively group of friends, Christophe’s service team are there for you, unobtrusive and attentive.

L’Arpege is truly beautiful, fine dining – but if you are a on a budget or a picky eater, the cost of a surprise menu experience won’t be your cup of tea.

Reserve as soon as you think you might want to go, the wait list ranges from 1 to 2 months.

3-course fixed-price lunch 70€, 5-course lunch 120€ and the 7-course dinner 210€-290€.