A few minutes’ walk from Salle Pleyel and Monceau Park, in the heart of the chic 17th arrondissement, Frédéric Simonin’s new restaurant seduces you with its Art déco inspired design and its fine, generous cuisine.
When he was 15 years old the young Frédéric Simonin dreamt of a career in the Foreign Legion, but ended up devoting his life to hot kitchens in great restaurants. An elite soldier and a tough nut with a shaven head like Marlon Brando in Apocalypse Now, Simenon has moved through all of the great establishments: Ledoyen, Taillevent, George V, Meurice and Joël Robuchon’s La Table, where he picked up his first and then second Michelin Guide star (in 2004 and in 2006.)
“Robuchon? He’s a great example for all of us, with his discipline, perfection and dishes of intense taste.” But in retrospect Simonin has a particular affection for the first cook who ever showed him the arcane secrets of haute cuisine: Ghislaine Arabian, a 100% self-taught French Northerner who was the first woman to have been awarded 2 stars when she was chef at Ledoyen (in the early 90s.) “She dared to create working-class style cuisine for a wealthy clientele. She used produce from the North of France such as chicory, roast cod in white beer, lamb from the bay of Somme, calf’s liver with juniper berries... It was very bold!”
Back to the present and Frédéric Simonin has just opened his own restaurant, a stone’s throw from rue Poncelet, (where, as a brief aside, you’ll find Alléosse - one of the best cheese maker and maturers in Paris.)
Along with the interior designer Maud Lesur, he himself conceived the decorating in his reataurant which manifests an astonishingly confident level of taste (a quality which is somewhat rare amongst chefs!) The décor harmoniously combines blacks, greys and cream tones. There are deep pile carpets and designer armchairs, leather clad walls, stripy curtains, and silver cutlery specially designed by craftsmen. This living room ambiance lends itself equally to business lunches and romantic dinners.
For the time being Simonin’s cuisine is more about delighting diners, rather than attempting to innovate. After spending 8 years in the “Robuchon stables” (in the same way that we’d say “Ferrari stables”) he now has to forge his own path and develop his own style. Now that he’s 35 he’ll be starting to ask himself questions!
The restaurant’s lunch menu at 38 € is (especially if you take the local area into account) excellent value for money: Snails with Piedmont hazelnuts on a crème of lettuce with nutmeg, Fricassée of farmhouse “black-footed” poultry served with winter root vegetables in their juices and macaroni with truffles and Dessert of the day.
In the evening, the restaurant asserts itself as a "gastro" and you should reckon on a hundred Euros at the very least in order to sample the chef's specialties on the à la carte; examples of this are the crayfish marinières cooked in yellow wine and spiced with cayenne pepper, his crab served in a tangy avocado jelly or his magnificent black truffle risotto. The ultra-famous mashed potato "à la Joel Robuchon" is also offered with a surcharge (of 9 € per plate).
With regard to the desserts, you should not overlook the warm soufflé with yuzu accompanied by Okinawa sugar: a small masterpiece with aromas of Japan! As an ultimate luxury, you can also treat yourself to a delicious Sylvaner Vieilles Vignes Andre Ostertag at 44 € for a bottle.
Frederic Simonin, we’re counting on you and I promise we’ll be back again next year to see you!
Restaurant Frédéric Simonin
25, rue Bayen 75017 Paris
Tel: +33 1 45 74 74 74
Open Tuesday to Saturday