The difference in appearance alone could not be greater. Think of the dining rooms of the Meurice, Crillon, Ritz, Plaza or Bristol and contrast their looks with the one of La Cuisine at the Royal Monceau. Whilst the former are heavy on the marble, gold, silver and the likes, the latter is more playful, unconventional and modern. Certain similarities to the design of the Meurice are apparent, as both are the creation of Philippe Starck, but there really isn’t that much that La Cuisine’s dining room has in common with other Parisian ‘palace‘ restaurants.
The service is most polite, efficient and friendly, in line with this idea of a more relaxed dining experience. The prices too, are far lower than those practised in other establishments, making it all the more accessible and perhaps also contributing to the lively atmosphere that reigns in the dining room here.
The food here, is Laurent André’s; this charismatic and passionate chef has worked with legends such as Alain Chapel and Alain Ducasse. Having spent some time a bit all over the world, he has come back to Paris, to produce a resolutely French cuisine. After having spent 18 years with Ducasse, the influence of his mentor is certainly visible, but André is carefully building his own ideas, both in the kitchen and the dining room.
The food here is best described as being product-based, simple and gutsy. There is no unnecessary garnish on the dishes, no complications that seem superfluous. Take an oeuf en meurette. This classical dish from Burgundy is served in a most convincing manner here: The egg is marinated in red wine for 24 hours, before being poached perfectly. Served with a rich red wine sauce, lardons, grelot onions, and mushrooms you have a plate full of earthy, dark flavours that add an element of sophistication to this fairly rustic dish.
More delicate and even simpler is a sea bream. Cooked whole, it is carved tableside and showcases not only the product-quality, but also the precise timing on the side of the kitchen. Simply presented with a rich veal jus and a cocotte of spring vegetables, this is the kind of dish that doesn’t try to impress, but is oh so satisfying. It is not often that restaurants serve such dishes these days, and even more rare that the fish or meat is prepared by a skilful maitre, which deserves to be mentioned.
Instead of proposing its own desserts, the sweet side of the kitchen of La Cuisine is in the hands of Pierre Hermé. One thing one really ought to try is the millefeuille, which is made to order in front of your eyes. You walk up to the comptoir and choose your cream, pastry, and topping, with which the pastry chefs then prepare your own bespoke-millefeuille. The result is more than convincing, and would probably be not far off being one of Paris’ best millefeuilles. Even though some might find it a tad gimmicky, such an idea fits in with the concept of La Cuisine, namely making the experience a bit more informal and breaking a few rules here and there. Add to this the quality of the desserts, and you will certainly not be complaining anytime soon!
La Cuisine is certainly the most atypical restaurant of any of the Parisian grand hotels. It is more casual, more affordable and seems to have quite a few things up its sleeve, waiting to be unleashed. A chef such as André clearly knows food, and is someone who lets his dishes speak for themselves, which is more than respectable.