Bruno Doucet, chef and owner of the famous La Régalade restaurant in the 14th Arrondissement, just opened his deuxième (second) restaurant, La Régalade Saint-Honoré, in the 1st Arrondissement on famed street Rue Saint-Honoré, which is as fabulous as his première restaurant. Smaller and in a more modern setting than le première restaurant, Chef Doucet hits on all of his main strengths: fabulous food, generous portions, intense and fresh flavors, heightened by seasonal dishes that bring the best to top-notch bistro cuisine in a city crowded with run of the mill bistros.
With a price-fix menu of only 32€ for dinner, it is one of the best values in Paris. It does not hurt that the staff is as efficient, as they are friendly. Chef Doucet is at the wheel in his open kitchen, and warmly greeted me as I took pictures of him at his craft. His kitchen is small – with shiny copper pots and pans as he spoons his fabulous sauces over his dishes. Doucet works his magic on every dish. He is not watching. He is cooking, furiously, on each and every dish, ensuring that each plate served is perfect. When ready, he would clap his hands twice, impatient that the dishes are not being served within seconds of being plated, so his customers enjoyed them fresh hot from his kitchen, which is just a few feet away in open view (this is not very common in Paris restaurants and a nice differentiator if you care to watch the plates come out in real-time).
The selection of dishes is equally fantastic. He serves up volaille (organic game chicken), boeuf (different varieties, including entrecote and a stew), plus some vegetarian starters, including a brilliant morille (morel mushrooms) in a cream sauce with crunchy tiny croutons, fresh green asperge (asparagus), and at least 3 different types of fish and seafood – roasted cod, sea bass, and scallops in the shell. You must order the desserts at the same time as when you order your starter and main dishes, which makes sense if you want the soufflé, which is superb.
Before our starters, we were served a large terrine of paté du canard, with a side of cornichons, helping ourselves to as much as we wanted. We just sliced piece by piece on a baguette, all of which is served as complimentary starters, a nice touch as with le première restaurant. The wine list offers great values for bottles in the 30-50€ range from all major regions in France, plus more stellar wines for those that want to splurge on something truly special. We had a Savigny-Les Baune première cru that, at 44€, was a great buy, perfectly complementing our porc, beef and suprème de volaille.
For starters, we had morilles and asperge (asparagus), both of which are in season. The portions for both were super generous. I had just been to the market the other day when a large handful of morilles cost 17€, so I cannot figure out how such a generous portion could be served given the supplemental cost was only 6€ beyond the price-fix menu of 32€. They were the best morilles I have had – as if they had been plucked from the forest the same morning. My wife’s asperge vertes was also brilliant – thick stems of succulent asparagus, served warm with a finely chopped tomato and onion.
For our main course, I had a slab of échine de porc, which is almost like thick bacon, on a bed of smoky lentils. Although “fatty”, that is the way the dish is and as the plat du jour it was quite good. My wife, Joy, had beef stew, served in a rich dark sauce, that was enough for two. Our friend Lisa, visiting us from Vienna, had the suprème de volaille (organic chicken), served with fresh green asparagus and peas. Each dish was a standout – bistro cooking at its very best.
Our desserts were equally fantastic, with Joy having the grand marnier soufflé, Lisa having two different pot de crème (white and dark chocolate), and I having mousse au chocolat with a crunchy deep chocolate cake.
If there is any downside to La Régalade Saint-Honoré it is that some dishes duplicate le première restaurant in the 14th, and that the portions are so generous you really need to come hungry. If you only have a couple nights in Paris, this should definitely be on your short list, as few places are as good, especially in terms of overall value.
Address: 123 rue Saint-Honoré, 75001
Phone: 01 42 21 92 40
Hours: Closed Sun & Mon, Tue – Fri 12pm–2:30pm, 7pm–11pm, Sat 7pm–11pm