On my way back from Brittany, I made sure to have time for lunch in Paris. Like everyone else, I'd been itching to try the new branch of La Régalade (the original is in the 14e), which has just opened a short walk from the Louvre in the first.
All of a sudden the 1e has a bunch of great new places, including the very exciting Franco-Chinese Yam T'cha (newly Michelin-starred), and the hyper-blogged about new Spring, opened by the talented Chicago chef Daniel Rose. I first met Daniel a few years ago while writing a piece about the intriguing wave of chef-owned restaurants in Paris for Condé Nast Traveller. Back then his original Spring was just beginning to cause a stir and, after dining there and enjoying his famed generosity as a host I wanted to return the favour so invited him to our place for dinner one night (if I remember, he brought along some stunning wines and was kind enough to say my jarret de veau was one of the best he'd ever tasted, which I am sure it wasn't, but it was awfully nice of him to fib).
So, of course, I wish Daniel well – and await the torrent of media coverage of his new place – but the EUR33 three course lunch at Bruno Doucet's La Régalade was my quarry this time.
Unlike the branch in the 14e, this one is rather swish outside. Inside, too, all was fresh paint and unmarked furniture, but Doucet's trademark generosity and homesey hospitality was instantly evoked by the magnificent terrine and accompaniments which soon arrived at my table and from which guests are invited to scoff ad libitum. Of course, they rely on their guests' decorum and self respect not to go overboard.
Dreadful photo, sorry, but this was an exquisitely tender piece of veal daube which was followed by a triumphant Grand Marniér souffle – a match for anything on offer at the nearby souffle-centric Le Soufflé.
After that there was time to pop by my favourite Paris food store – actually, make that my favourite store of any description – G. Detou to stock up on couverture chocolate for Christmas.
Meanwhile, on my way home, at Charles de Gaulle airport I was fortunate enough to witness the results of a major renovation and makeover for Paris' number one international hub.
Here they are:
A couple of years ago a young man with a clipboard approached me as I waited for a taxi outside Charles de Gaulle to ask my opinion of the airport. He moved silently away a few moments later, ashen faced, after I had told him precisely what I thought of the world's worst international airport (and I am including Luton in that). It would appear that multicoloured plant pots are the sole outcome of the research.
One thing is for sure. Nothing else has changed.