A dessert of palatial proportions: The Crazy Pot.
Le Mini Palais
In the Grand Palais, ave Winston Churchill, in the 8th Arrondissement.
01 42 56 42 42.
There is nothing small about Le Mini Palais, the newly reopened restaurant at the Grand Palais.
The vast, high-ceilinged room feels like an artist’s studio or perhaps a storage wing in a very chic museum, with shelves of busts and urns on one wall, canvases hanging on another and large metal domed lamps illuminating it all. An inviting lounge offers a glimpse into the main exhibition space of the building, and along the other side, floor-to-ceiling windows open onto a pillared and tiled terrace that is surely one of the most splendid in the city.
Consulting chef Eric Frechon, of the three-Michelin-starred Bristol, has designed a cosmopolitan menu. Coconut, tandoori, pan con tomate, tempura, curry, lemongrass, chips (as in “fish and”) and burrata are all part of the lexicon here.
Escargot-stuffed cherry tomatoes.
La Belle France is well represented, too. Escargots got the Provençal treatment, stuffed into cherry tomatoes and roasted with loads of garlic and herbs. A savory clafoutis with cèpes was earthy and smoky. A fillet of St. Pierre (John Dory) with glazed skin sat atop an unusual mix of eggplant and cèpes that left us unsatisfied, but the sweetbreads were delicious. With a crisp Comté coating, a dash of vin jaune and a luxe potato purée, the dish bolstered the “you can never be too rich” philosophy.
You won’t get too thin by ordering dessert. The baba au rhum is described as “géant” (giant), and they weren’t kidding. The Crazy Pot, a mishmash of ice cream, bonbons, whipped cream and chocolate, seems to have been plucked from the mind of an eight-year-old.
Think big: Le Mini Palais.
Such fashionable addresses often come with attitude, but the welcome was warm, the service was efficient and I even witnessed a few smiles from the staff. The prices were a bit gentler than expected, too, especially the 28 euro lunch menu.
In the spirit of a brasserie, Le Mini Palais is open every day with continuous service, which makes it an elegant choice for a late lunch, a snack, an afternoon tea or an apéro.
In a nutshell: Le Mini Palais offers a cool cosmopolitan vibe at a Parisian landmark.
Price check: First courses, 8–17 euros; mains, 14–35 euros; desserts, 7–12 euros. Wines by the glass are 6–9 euros; bottles start at 26 euros.
If you like the sound of Le Mini Palais but want to lose the landmark:
2, rue Cambon, in the 1st.
01 42 60 80 89.