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Éric Frechon, Le Bristol restaurant (video)
A third Michelin star hopeful, Éric Frechon, has brought humanity and a sensibility for regional produce to the grand classical cuisine of this prestigious luxury hotel.
In spite of all the prizes and honours, (the French President, who lives nearby, adores his cuisine and presented him with a prestigious award last year) Éric Frechon remains a simple, reserved, almost shy man.
Hailing from the Haute-Normandie region, from an early age this greengrocer's son had an almost poetic feeling, an attraction for the earth and sea's exquisite produce: a passion which he expresses in his superb book 'Tout ce que vous devez avoir goûté au moins une fois dans votre vie – Everything you should have tasted at least once in your life' which earned him the Grand Prix book prize at the 'Gastronomades' festival in Angoulême.
At 16 years old, as a mere assistant in a modest seafood restaurant, Éric Frechon decided that cooking would be his passion, his universe for which he would sacrifice everything. In Paris he worked his way up through the uppermost establishments such as La Grande Cascade, La Tour d’Argent and Le Crillon where he spent 7 years under the orders of the great Christian Constant. This spiritual father trained and launched a whole generation of young, intrepid and gifted cavaliers such as Yves Camdeborde and Thierry Breton whose bistrots have left a mark on the history of contemporary cuisine (La Régalade and Chez Michel). Éric Frechon found friendship, solidarity, and discovered Parisian night life in their company, but more importantly ended up winning the coveted title of 'Best Artisan in France' for cooking.
Wanting to stand on his own two feet and follow the examples set by his bistrot establishing friends, he founded La Verrière in 1995 near Buttes-Chaumont, in Paris' 19th arrondissement. From then on success never left him and in 1999 he became head chef of hôtel Le Bristol's kitchens... “This was such a great opportunity, there was no way I was going to miss it!” So over the last ten years our man from Normandy has gradually made his mark as one of the most brilliant chefs of his generation. The proof of this was receiving his second Michelin star upon arriving at Le Bristol.
His cuisine has always remained sober and pure, in the image of the man himself, close to terroir and unaffected by the trends which tend to “dismantle the product.” Éric Frechon has surprised more than just a few by daring to offer a “simple” whiting on the à la carte. These days, however, the Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie whiting cooked on bread crust is one of the restaurant's main attractions. “Only we can get whiting this large and fresh - caught just the day before! Just look at the way the flesh is both firm and tender...we remove the bones using tweezers!” A very fine slice of bread (house made, of course) enveloped in almonds protects the fish and gives it a delicate crispness. Éric Frechon accompanies this with a tetragon salad (a close relative of spinach), seasoned with olive oil, salt, lemon, curry and a hint of shallot. It is quite delicious complemented with a good white Burgundy, a Mersault or a simple Mâcon.
The other dish which guaranteed Éric Frechon's reputation is his Hen from Bresse cooked in bladder, an anthological dish made famous in the 1930's by the Brazier mother in Lyon and Fernand Point in Vienne. “The customers are fascinated when the pig's bladders, swollen like big balloons, inside which the hen has been braised, are brought into the room. They order it immediately.”
Éric Frechon is, nevertheless, also capable of innovating and going beyond a classicism that some feel he is all too often labelled with. Try out his fillet of venison with zest of citrus fruit served with dried fruit polenta and pepper sauce! Fine, tender game which combines marvellously with one of Éric's favourite wines: Nuit-Saint-Georges from the Prieuré Roch estate.
Le Bristol - Hôtel Bristol
112, rue du faubourg Saint-Honoré 75008 Paris
Tel.: +33 (0)1 53 43 43 00.
Lunch Menu 95 € / 210 €
A la Carte 118 / 222 €