What oh what do you wear to one of the coolest places you’ve ever read about, let alone contemplated going?

I thought it was a difficult task when one of the brideslaves, heading a significant group of very generous friends asked me to nominate a restaurant in Paris. You see, they’d like to club in and buy u for our wedding present s a dinner we’d always remember.

There were a range of choices that instantly presented themselves- do you go classic, to Guy Savoy for his use of only three ingredients on a plate? Do you try and push your luck for a booking at L’Astrance, and see how much Pascal Barbot absorbed from his time with Tony Bilson at Ampersand in Sydney?

Or do you choose somewhere that is so different, to anywhere you’ve ever been, or likely to go again?

In 2005 Alain Senderens gave up his three Michelin stars at Lucas Carton and opened a place where style and flavor favoured over formality. You’re just as welcome in jeans as you are in a jacket , and the food takes inspiration from all over the world.

The interior is designed by Noe Duchafour Lawrance and the restaurant is housed in a beautiful heritage listed building in the Place de la Madeline.

The interior is a cross between a space station, with aerodynamically smooth seats and booths and, to me aJapanese, electro funk bordello. The seats and tables are white and grey, the light fittings are ornate and the two mid sized rooms are flanked by mirrors, etched with cherry blossom and blackjack cards which are illuminated to change from pink, to orange, to red.

The newly acquired Louis Vuitton 2008 Paris city guide ( the new style bible, a wedding present in itself from one of my gurus for all that is good) says ‘Senderens is a triumph.. for one of the finest chefs of his generation. He now draws a younger, less conventional, almost fashionista crowd).

Knowing all of this, what do you wear? It was about treading a fine line between funky and frou frou. It was about a grey tuxedo style shirt for the Hungry One and a grey suit, with the jacket quickly abandoned on arrival. For me it was a black pencil skirt, flat Robin Hood style pointy boots, a black boat neck jumper and a charcoal, (very good) Bangkok copy of a linen Chanel high collared fluted jacket. There are turquoise earrings to provide colour and interest.

The four hours fly by. There’s a glass of Pommery champagne to start, which is so cracklingly dry that by the time the amouse bouche of a shot of green bean soup with a mandolined vegetable samosa is delivered the oiliness of the fried pastry triangle is a relief for your palate, rather than a burden.

Then we’re faced with a fat finger of Scottish smoked salmon, with a tiny dice of celery, granny smith apple and a circle of flat ravioli, glossed with a sprinkling of wasabi. Under normal circumstances, the Hungry One and smoked salmon aren’t friends. These are not normal circumstances. The combination of the crunch of the apple and celery plays perfectly against the soft salmon. Every now and again you get a whiff of wasabi and it makes your eyes pop. There’s something a bit Waldorf salad about it all, and it’s great. There’s a 2006 Kabinett Riesling from Mosel Saar Ruwer that’s crisp and clean and goes down a bit too easily.

What then follows blows your mind, and your waist. Two terrific looking tails of langoustines arrive, crusted like a Kentucky fried Stegosaurus. Over the surface of each are cross sections of almonds that have been anchored to the shelfish with a crispy batter. Underneath there’s some curlings of bok choi that look like creatures that have been dredged from the deep. You’re instructed by the incredibly genial waiters to use your fingers- pick the tails and plunge them into a small beaker of dipping sauce. Where as we’d usually, with our gentle, fresh sensibilities assume it to be something light, and refreshing, here you’re hurtled in the other direction. The richness of the shellfish, almonds, batter, oil is then coated in a coriander beurre blanc. Sure you can taste the ginger and a touch of chili too- but it’s unmistakably butter and cream as the baseline heroes.

The wine choice here is interesting as well- continuing with the Space Mountain descent into total mouth coat. It’s a rich, voluptuous Anjou Bonnes Blanches which has vanilla, honey, raisin playing along. There is nothing casual and tripping about these flavours.

The baby lamb that follows is like no baby lamb I’ve ever encountered. I don’t really want to know how young it is. I think we have laws against it back home. We don’t stop eating, we just briefly pause and thank the lamb for giving its ( presumably very very brief) life for our dinner. In the centre of the circle of protien is a large coin of marrow, that is so pliable it almost feels wrong to eat. Almost, but not quite.

Marrow to me is what marshmallow is to others…. It’s so good I go shopping around the plate for similar delights. The small towers of poached eggplant are puddling in a light veloute that foams around them and a quenelle of capsicum puree. Capping it all is a crisped strip of dehydrated eggplant- almost like eggplant jerky. The glass of Bandol from Domaine de Terrebune is a clean addition- though the Hungry One is slightly disappointed that despite the ever shifting shapes and colours of the food on the plate the stemware remains constant for all the different wines. It’s hard being him in this world sometimes.

The pre dessert continues the coriander campaign of the entree. In a small glass there’s a teeny tiny Barbie doll sized dice of pineapple, suspended in a coriander jelly, with a light foam bedding it all down.

There’s no wine with the pre dessert. This could be a good thing- In this tasting menu, every glass is a full serve. Every plate is significant. I’m slowing down by this stage.

Dessert comes on a rippled glass platter that I’d be tempted to pilfer for my own collection back home, if I could find a way for the swirls of caramel and crumblings of pistachio not to stick to my handbag.

I’ve read that the French believe that there are four artforms- patisserie being one. Architecture fits beneath patisserie. The structural integrity of this dessert deserves to be lauded in itself.

It comes as a walled city made of pistachio tuille protecting poached pear with a praline icecream. Piped ontop are clouds of caramel mousse. There’s a moat of thick, almost bitter caramel encircling it all. It’s overwhelming, and then so is the lake of Madeira Boal that is served wash it down.

In the glass it plays tricks on you, the pale pink reminding you of a crisp rose. It should not be underestimated. It has a kick to it that brings out a slur in the Hungry One that is rarely seen. I can only manage two sips before I start to get silly.

The night is slowing down. The Hungry One is deeply impressed that the waiters are familiar with a ristretto, and he doesn’t have to mime how we would like his espresso.. The petit fours are like jewels- a passion fruit jelly, chocolate macaroon and a hazelnut and chocolate truffle cup.

There’s no bill to pay, there’s just the cold air and a walk to the metro as a final digestif. As we walk out I survey the rest of the patrons. There’s everything from jeans, to semi ball gowns. Everyone seems to be wearing a similar look of contented, stuffed wonder.

I think we got it right- both in where to come and what to wear.
But the most important part of my outfit selection..? The stretchy elastic that encircles the waist of my black pencil skirt.

Restaurant Senderens
9 Place de Madeline,
8th, Paris

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