Restaurant Review: Restaurant Le Gabriel at La Reserve, Paris in France
When you think of Paris, the finer things in life spring to mind; stunning architecture, amazing food and a bloody good bottle of wine. It’s safe to say Restaurant Le Gabriel at La Reserve embodies all three of these Parisian traits.
Located just off the Champs-Elysées, with a distant view of the Eiffel Tower, the restaurant, in my opinion, is the grandest in Paris. And it seems the team at Michelin agree, awarding the kitchen two shiny stars.
The hotel/restaurant’s interior feels fit for a president, which is very apt as it’s literally minutes away from Emmanuel Macron’s base. The tall ceilings, art deco furnishings and open fire add a certain romantic feel that is quintessentially Parisian.
Le Gabriel’s kitchen is headed up by Jérôme Banctel, a French chef, who is simply a wizard when it comes to food. He knows how to combine flavours, use a range of ingredients in unusual forms and create a thoroughly enjoyable menu.
My boyfriend Rhys and I were there to try the four course experience menu with wine pairings. Our waiter promised it would showcase the best of Banctel’s talents and it did exactly that. The chef is inspired by Japanese cuisine but also celebrates French produce; on paper this doesn’t sound like a good match, but it really, really works.
Every element of our dinner was sensational; it’s not often bread and butter make you say wow, but even the salted and separately buckwheat butters were out of this world. At one point, our waiter dashed over exclaiming ‘SOS, emergency’ when Rhys ran out of bread. And it really was an emergency-without that extra roll Rhys wouldn’t have been able to polish off the butter!
Whilst on the subject of service, we couldn’t have been happier with our waiting staff. Every team member was attentive but not intrusive and had a wealth of knowledge regarding the menu and the origins of French food and wine.
To run through each individual course with wine pairing would ruin the magic of your dinner should you decide to dine there, so instead I’ll list a few personal highlights.
After a glass of stunning house champagne and some pre-dinner nibbles, it was time for the first course; French asparagus with an array of delicious accompaniments, including pickled apple and horse radish. As you can see, from course one, the chef’s love affair with Japanese food is already apparent.
The asparagus was giant-sized and the tastiest I’ve ever had, as was the balance of flavours on the plate; there was a delightful mixture of cream, butter, spice and salt. My taste buds didn’t know what had hit them, but neither were they disappointed with the following plates…
Another stunning course was the candied sashimi salmon, served with horseradish, red cabbage and a sweet foam. Unsurprisingly, the salmon was of a superb quality and absorbed the delicious flavours perfectly. For five mouthfuls, I truly felt like I was in downtown Tokyo.
The star of the show for me, however, was the fourth course; lobster served with ginger, carrot and cinnamon ravioli. Italy eat your heart out-it turns out Paris serves the finest ravioli in the world.
The lobster was meaty, buttery and cooked beautifully, but, in my opinion, it was outshone by the ravioli which was light in texture but hearty in flavour. This plate is a classic example of how creative the chef is; he’s not afraid of experimenting with sweet and savoury and I, for one, am a huge fan.
Our final main course was a plate of a mackerel from Brittany. The fish was double-cooked and served by three waiters; labour intensive, I know, but so very worth it. The fish is first poached in a cedar leaf stuffed with tarragon, rosemary and sorrel. It’s then bought to your table and steamed on a bed of hot stones and white wine. The juicy fillet was accompanied with a salted potato gnocchi, and topped with sea urchin and mackerel foam, because, as it turns out, one form of mackerel just isn’t enough. If, like me, you’re a lover of salt, then this is the dish for you.
I was sad when our waiter said it was time for dessert because this meant the main courses had come to an end, but I should have known Mr Banctel wouldn’t disappoint.
What soon followed was one of the most impressive vintage cheese boards I’ve ever had. It was curated by Eric Lefebvre, who is an artist of the dairy product and also owner of one of Paris’ top cheesemongers. Little surprise then, that the board was out of this world; three of them were sweet and creamy, whilst the other three stronger in flavour. We were truly in heaven!
Our final plate was coffee meringue, playfully served in the shape of a coffee bean, and filled with vanilla and chocolate chip ice cream. The contrast of the crisp meringue case worked really well with the ice cold filling. I can’t describe how satisfying it was to break through the shell-it took me back to childhood memories of crunching on autumn leaves… anyway, I digress! The pudding was light and the perfect end to an outrageously tasty dinner.
To summarise, our meal at Le Gabriel was faultless. Every element was simply stunning and two months on my boyfriend and I still discuss the evening. It wasn’t just the marvellous food and wine that made our night one to remember, it’s also the grand setting, elegant interior and first class service. It’s is everything a night in Paris should be! Dining at Le Gabriel doesn’t come cheap, but it’s worth every single penny, or cent if you’re on the continent!
Located in: La Réserve Paris Hotel and Spa
Address: 42 Avenue Gabriel, 75008 Paris, France
Telephone: +33 1 58 36 60 50