Alain Ducasse has done it again – this time distinguishing himself as own the only brasserie in Paris that has a Michelin star. Benoit is surprisingly small for such a big reputation –there are only a few tables in this brasserie – all full of course, as reservations days in advance are essential to earn a spot at this Ducasse destination.
The restaurant is a little difficult to find, as it is on a tiny corner street just off of Rue de Rivoli, yet that means it is generally quiet, except for the chatter that hums inside the restaurant (it is not so loud, except if Americans are in the room talking in their usual very loud manner). The décor is stellar, with big bulb lamps, laced curtains draping the windows, and a small bar with gleaming glass and brass giving the restaurant the atmosphere everyone hopes will accompany their brasserie experience.. The menu is more up-scale than a traditional brasserie, which explains the Michelin star rating. I had foie grois poêlé, seared and served on a port reduction sauce with fig – perfect and delicious – if not pricey for an appetizer (28€).
The wine menu is equally top-notch, with a great selection of wines from Bordeaux and Bourgogne. As the waiter is very knowledgeable about the wines, don’t hesitate to ask for a recommendation or two. For dinner I tried something different – seared scallops with leeks and truffles – a dish that was good, though I would have expected better execution with a Michelin star rating (the scallops came warm, and while cooked correctly, slightly rare, the leeks seemed a bit mushy to qualify as a stellar dish). My wife had salmon in a sorrel sauce, that was fine – such are the challenges when Alain Ducasse raises such great expectations for his clientele.
In short, Benoit is a brasserie whose reputation may supersede itself, but remains in the upper crust of brasseries in Paris, not only with its Michelin star but also with its prices.
The restaurant is open seven days a week, for lunch and dinner (except for July 24-August 24 for its annual summer closing).
Address: 20 rue St Martin, 75004
Métro: Hôtel de Ville or Châtelet
Tél. + 33 (0)1 42 72 25 76