After the supreme success of Guy Savoy, I did some laundry (hey this story is going well...) and prepared myself for dinner at two-starred Taillevent. This was going to be an interesting one. While Guy Savoy is one of the more progressive chefs in Paris, Taillevent is a restaurant with a rich history that is very much forced to respect tradition.
Taillevent has been open for around 60 years and held three stars for the majority of those years. It finally lost a star a couple of years ago and has been on that level since. While I'm not entirely up on the history of the place, my understanding is that it has been a fairly important restaurant in the Paris dining and, more importantly, political scene.
But, more importantly from my perspective, how was the food?
In a few words, not very good.
For the first time on this trip, there were multiple dishes that I considered failures. The langoustine dish was a disaster. Why would you put a sweet langoustine and some very subtle sauces on the same plate as a zesty orange marmalade? There was no cohesion at all.
Other dishes weren't as bad, but were still fairly forgettable. So much so that I'm writing this only a few days later, yet I remember almost nothing. With other places I can remember most of the courses.
Service was also a bit dull. While Guy Savoy was great because the service was fun, Taillevent is overly formal and dry. Nothing about the restaurant was exciting.
After dinner a group of local Parisians dining at the table next to me asked me what I thought of the food. I should have sugar-coated it but I really couldn't be bothered. I told them that the food was okay, but nothing special. And that the restaurant seemed to be respecting it's past too much. And that about summed it up for me. Either the menu needs to be totally pulled into the current, or they focus on the classics and don't try to do stupid things like pairing marmalade with langoustine, which tasted like it was trying too hard to pull off both a classical and a modern taste. You can be happy enjoying heaven and hell, but eating limbo is unfulfilling.
As we spoke more I mentioned my plans for tomorrow—Michel Rostang for lunch and Lasserre for dinner. Concerningly, they were united in their dislike for Lasserre, particularly the price. They recommended other places, but with such short notice I was locked in. That could be a worry.
Michelin star tally: 23