Par Margaret Kemp
Until mid-September terrace of La Cour Jardin is "la campagne en ville" an "homage to nature" planted by vegetable growers Didier and Sandrine Pil. Their fragrant organic vegetable garden showcases tomatoes, peas, courgettes, pumpkins, Jerusalem artichokes, beetroot, borage, sage, pansies, begonias etc. The trees and shrubs have been moved and replanted, ready to take their place in the courtyard in the autunm.
In its November 4th 1913 issue, Le Figaro wrote: "Excellent fare just a few steps from the theatre, what better solution to the age old problem of where to dine after the show. Or so seems to be the opinion of elegant Parisian society who flock to the Hotel Plaza's delicious restaurant to savour the ingenious menus of master chef Colombier".
Excellent indeed. The Plaza Athenee's gastronomic restaurant's spectacular décor has been revised and corrected by Patrick Jouin, and incredible dishes are created by 3-star Michelin chef Christophe Moret with Alain Ducasse.
The sustainable concept came from Alain Ducasse who wants to turn the spotlight on produce and producers such as the Pils to promote healthy cuisine. Enter Bernadette Combette, sustainable development consultant who specialises in organic and biodynamic farming. "To-day, by taking the produce along the shortest possible route from producer to plate, choosing local, seasonal produce, we have created what I call the new VegeTable", explains Ms Combette. "With the chefs technical expertise the food at Cour Jardin combine visual pleasure with mouthwatering flavours where the produce reveals all its original complexity".
The Cour Jardin summer menu is by young Ducasse trained chef Sylvain Fouilleul, his "Vegetable Garden" opens with Quinori and Crisp Vegetables with Vegetable pistou. Didier Pil's Seasonal Stuffed Market Vegetables. Tomato carpaccio with goat cheese. Celery and beetroot consomm_, grilled duck liver. Brittany lobster, zucchini/millet piperade, coral vinaigrette or sucrine salad, tartare of caramelised mackeral fillets.
From "The Sea" choose Atlantic John Dory, saffron sauce. Seaweed steamed Pollack or "Della Zelata" risotto with green peas, cedrat lemon and squid, served in handsome black ceramic dishes from La Chamba, south-east of Bogota.
"The Land and the Farm" bring Shoulder of Lamb with simmered flageolets and broad beans. Yellow Landes chicken with crispy socca or Beef de Belle-Ile, simply grilled and paired with Noirmoutier potatoes. Follow with Ren_ Pellegrini's cheese, some herbs and leaves.
Desserts are "Fruits of the Season". Citrus Fruit Tart - from the tart to the most bitter or Christophe Michalak's Strawberry Tart with a drizzle of Olive Oil and Iced Fruit pearls.
There's a selection of non-alcoholic cocktails made with organic fruit and vegetable juices and cocktails combining organic champagne with organic fruit juices. One third of the wine list also comes from organic and/or biodynamic vineyards. The atmosphere is zen at lunch and dinner, at night photovoltaic candle jars provide lighting for the garden.
La Cour Jardin is donating 1% of its turnover to the "1% for the planet" foundation, www.1percentfortheplanet.org "to give back to Mother Nature some of the good that she does for us", says Alain Ducasse.
La Cour Jardin
25 avenue Montaigne Paris 8th - T: 01 53 67 66 02
Open 7/7 for lunch & dinner until mid-September
95€ + wine + A La Carte