Restaurant Antoine Paris – A Star Shining Brightly, For A Moment In Time

If you're looking for the good life in Paris a great place to start is at the end of Pont de l'Alma, next to the Flamme de la Liberté, where the 8th Arrondissement meets the 16th. From here, you can head north on Avenue George V to reach the Hotel George V and Louis Vuitton's flagship store. Or choose Avenue Marceau to get to the fashion museum of Yves Saint Laurent. Alternatively, Avenue du Président Wilson takes you past the Musée d'Art Moderne de Paris and Palais Galliera, the City of Paris fashion museum.

But, if you're seeking great dining, turn onto Avenue de New York to arrive at Michelin-starred seafood restaurant Antoine, which is where we were found ourselves recently, seated at an enviable corner banquette overlooking the river, our backs supported by plush pillows, with a dazzling view of the Eiffel Tower in the near distance. [See below for a note on the current status of the restaurant.]

A Michelin Star on the Banks of the River Seine

Champagne at Antoine

While we were still busy fluffing our cushions, the champagne cart arrived. Along with the Baron Rothschild rosé champagne we selected amuse bouches were served — creamy lemony emulsions in a crisp tartlet; a single escargot in a shell topped with a drop of garlicky mayo; a savory cream puff with Parmesan to be taken in a single mouthful. There were also slender breadsticks rolled in fennel seeds to be dunked in a lemon/anchovy spread and pecan butter to be smeared on the house-made sourdough bread.

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Breadstick at Antoine

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The first official course, the entrée, was oyster carpaccio. A perfectly-composed tiny plate offered three, crisp kohlrabi slices, lightly pickled, then wrapped around fresh oysters on a bed of quivering oyster jelly. It was crunchy, tangy, refreshing and cleansing with an intense umami finish; bold and acidic, tasting of the sea.

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Mushroom with caviar

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As we slurped down… as we elegantly drank the last of the champagne the next course arrived, with the server wielding a sauceboat and ladle. The plate was a lesson in simplicity itself — a white mushroom carved into the shape of a rose, covering delicate cubes of diced cucumber and a sliver of white fish. As the server spooned smoked Petrossian caviar sauce into the mushroom rose, he explained that the only salt in the dish came from the caviar and the bottarga. (In case you've misplaced your Dictionary of Contemporary Culinary Terms, bottarga is a delicacy made of salted, cured fish roe).

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savoury custard

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We're happy to report that the sommelier chose the perfect white wine to complement the smoky, seafood flavors. A white Chinon from the Loire Valley was subtle, with notes of honeysuckle blossom.

Next up was a savory custard, shaped into a tomato, with a sprig of herbs to represent the stem. To complete the dish, our server poured a sweet-and-sour tomato consommé from a Japanese iron teapot.

Top Chef France

Antoine Dining Room

Antoine's dining room was airy and spacious with floor-to-ceiling windows along two sides. It was Fashion Week in Paris and since HQ was just next door at the Palais de Tokyo, a few fashionistas wandered past. Our fashion prediction? Shoulder pads would be making a comeback.

Chef Thibault Sombardier (who was a finalist in season 5 of Top Chef France, the top competitive cooking TV show in the country) hales from Lyon, the food capital of France; he advanced his culinary career in the kitchens of Marc Meneau in Burgundy and Alain Dutournier and Yannick Alleno in Paris. Part of the fashionable crop of Paris chefs Chef Sombardier is cut from the same cloth, with a fabulous hairdo, gleaming white teeth, and the confidence of a young prince. He was made for television.

By the time Chef stopped by our table for a quick greeting we were onto the fourth course, but Sombardier knows his portion sizes and the langoustine dish was another gift from Miniature World. Small though it may have been, the toothy, juicy seafood came with loads of clean, citrusy flavors. Chef also knows how to balance textures and flavors to make seafood as satisfying as beef. As the server spooned a fluffy emulsion onto the langoustine, he reminded us that each dish at Antoine comes with sauce, an essential in fine French dining.

Sea Bass & Snails

Sea Bass

We were not counting, but it was the fifth course and this time it was seared sea bass sitting on a bed of sea snails with crunchy elements from the Earth; accompanied by an Italian salad, crumbles of pomme de terre, and orange oil.

There was a shift in the wind when our white wine was replaced with red to signal the final course, roast suckling pig with boudin noir, roasted pear, and a side of whipped potatoes the color of Dijon mustard. It was a satisfying and surprising way to end a seafood extravaganza. Chef had shown us his culinary range and that he is comfortable with all the French classics.

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Dessert at Antoine

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At 3:30 PM we were finally ready for pre-dessert — that's right, there was a dessert before dessert, just to get our stomachs in the right frame of mind. In front of us was placed a pale pistachio-coloured ice cream with za'atar spice mix (a Middle Eastern blend, often containing dried oregano, thyme, or marjoram, with sumac and toasted sesame seeds, although we don't know what Antoine's exact mixture was), some mint and a soupçon of olive oil. The finale, the actual dessert, was chocolate soufflé — its top sliced off and placed on a quenelle of ice cream in a separate bowl to provide the best of two worlds, cold and warm.

After lunch, we wandered next door to the steps of Palais de Tokyo to watch models posing and photographers snapping.

Postscript

Fashion shoot at Palais de Tokyo

Our meal at Antoine took place only a few days before the Covid lockdown in France and most of of Europe. Like all other restaurants, Antoine was forced to close. By late summer 2020, this notice appeared on the restaurant's website —

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For the past few years, my partners and I have wanted to make important changes to the restaurant. We had planned to carry out renovation work this summer. The health crisis has turned our project upside down and prevents us from going any further. Therefore, it seems opportune to change location in order to offer a setting closer to what drives me today.

"Therefore, we do not wish to re-open Antoine in September and have decided to sell. Thank you for trusting me for all these years."

For the past few years, my partners and I have wanted to make important changes to the restaurant. We had planned to carry out renovation work this summer. The health crisis has turned our project upside down and prevents us from going any further. Therefore, it seems opportune to change location in order to offer a setting closer to what drives me today.

"Therefore, we do not wish to re-open Antoine in September and have decided to sell. Thank you for trusting me for all these years."

Restaurant Antoine Resources
  • 10 Avenue New York
  • 16th Arrondissement
  • Website

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