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The Man Who Fell from the Sky: Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée

Jack Smith

Paris

Thousands of tiny crystals orbit the chandeliers, bathing the dining room at Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée in a Milky Way of lights. The initial sense of awe at this celestial display gradually gives way to an awareness that the restaurant is as fun as it is elegant. Like the amiable host of a soigné cocktail party, maître d’hôtel Denis Courtiade constantly circulates throughout the room, cracking jokes here and proffering a box of truffles there to guarantee his guests a memorable evening.

As at Le Louis XV, the flavors of the native ingredients are given pride of place. "I don’t use much aubergine and peppers," says chef Christophe Moret. "These are not authentic to Paris; they belong in the south of France. We are based more on Escoffier. We use butter and cream, not olive oil."

Morel also may prepare such specialties as cock’s comb, served with or without the bird’s head. This is a delicacy in Paris, but the waiters rarely bother to suggest it to Americans.

+33.1.53.67.65.00, www.alain-ducasse.com

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