What does it take to get the ultimate accolade from Michelin inspectors, and is that third star worth the extra cost of the meal to the diner? Not so long as you can eat at the two-star L’Abeille Restaurant in Paris, which offers a far more joyful and satisfying experience than two three-star hotel restaurants recently experienced by this particular Trip Reporter in the City of Light.
Given the beauty of the room, the excellence of the service and the fantastic invention behind the food of highly accomplished but strangely unsung chef Christophe Moret, it’s hard to understand what on earth the Shangri-La Hotel could do to gain a third star for L’Abeille. Perhaps M. Michelin finds the buzzy atmosphere – none of the stiff reverence which so often accompanies three-star dining – too informal.
The restaurant, named for the bee whose products turn up in a signature honey dessert, is gorgeously situated overlooking the gardens of this super-elegant hotel which was once the home of Napoleon’s great-nephew.
Now under Chinese ownership, it intriguingly mixes Asian luxe with French flair in its decor, although bedrooms overlooking the Eiffel Tower firmly establish an unmistakable sense of place.
Restaurant manager Joseph Desserprix, (who arrived from one of those joyless three-stars determined to see guests at L’Abeille enjoying themselves rather than feeling obliged to worship their food), oversees a team which includes an Asian sommelier who is not afraid to serve sake with fabulous spider crab served in asparagus nests with rhubarb and a rich, creamy crab coral emulsion to die for.
Other rich but equally gorgeous dishes included a delicate smoked eel mousse with caviar and sea urchin, foie gras with stoned and stuffed cherries and a slice of almond sponge in place of the usual brioche toast, and a simply superb Normandy lobster, shelled and served with a divine vanilla infusion out of a casserole.
Great wine pairings completed the enjoyment, and a good cheeseboard made chef’s signature honey and honeycomb dessert – what else in a restaurant named for the bee? – almost redundant, though we managed a taste. While L’Abeille may long for a third star, diners will benefit from better prices for as long as that’s withheld, and meanwhile food, service and enjoyment pretty well hard to better are guaranteed.
Tell me more about the L’Abeille Restaurant
10 avenue d’Iena
+33 1 5367 1990