An intriguing if imperfect recent meal at the new version of Les Fables de la Fontaine, an expensive Michelin starred fish house founded by chef Christian Constant in its previous incarnation, made me more wiltingly aware of the pernicious effects of listification (if I might invent, I think, a new word) on food writing and the restaurant world than ever before. To wit, if you look at almost any of the lists of the top 50 or top 100 restaurants in the world that are out there, and there are more than you can count, you’ll find Paris invariably does rather poorly in these rankings.
But what does this really mean? That Paris chefs and restaurants are less interesting or innovative than those in other cities? Well, unfortunately that is the take away from these lists, when the reality is that Paris has never been as gastronomically exhilarating as it is today. Why? The city is brimming with new talent from all over the world, and the whole experience of a French meal is being more intensely and incisively scrutinized, tweaked, revised and reinvented than at any time since the last raft of great Gallic chefs, i.e. people like Michel Guérard or Roger Vergé, came on the scene in the early seventies. The new chefs of Paris are obsessively interested in good produce and healthy eating, too.
This demure renaissance ranges from the emergence of a new generation of star chefs like David Toutain (Restaurant David Toutain), Bertrand Bertrand Grébaut (Septime), and Jean-François Piège (Le Grand Restaurant), to the fact that there isn’t a neighborhood in the city that doesn’t have a constellation of small excellent and intelligently inventive new tables, or places like A Mere in the 10th Arrondissement, Le Servan in the 11th Arrondissement (both reviewed on this site) or, somewhat surprisingly, Les Fables de la Fontaine in the 7th Arrondissement.