Located just a champagne cork pop away from the Champs-Élysées, and housed in a magnificent townhouse at the heart of Paris’ triangle d’or, Le Clarence is every inch the temple of French decadence you could ever wish to find in the world’s most elegant capital.
Before you read on, allow me to begin this feature with a disclaimer: Le Clarence can offer nothing for the dry January devotee, the diner who has made a well-intentioned resolution to abstain from over-indulging, and the Instagrammer hoping for a fashionably minimalistic interior.
At 31 Avenue Franklin Delano Roosevelt, you will find no under-filled sharing plates, no cocktails served in enamel mugs, and no waiters in rolled shirt sleeves memorising your order without the aid of a notepad.
What you will find, should you enter behind the beautiful façade of this 19th Century building, is an unabashed celebration of an (elsewhere dwindling) delight in decadence.
In early December, as the first flushes of Christmas brightened the Parisian streets and instilled in us all a sense that we somehow deserved to indulge ourselves — I headed to sample the delights of this two Michelin-starred restaurant, and left feeling as though I’d stepped back in time.
A royal affair...
Upon entrance at Le Clarence, you are faced with an imposing stone spiral staircase, luxurious furnishings and the unshakeable feeling that you may have inadvertently trespassed upon a Royal residence. And, in a way, your hunch would be well-founded.
The restaurant’s CEO is none other than Prince Robert of Luxembourg, whose family empire is one of the most prolific in Paris — encompassing Bordeaux First Growth, Château Haut-Brion, Château La Mission Haut-Brion, Saint-Émilion’s Château Quintus and Clarandelle.
Whilst myself and my dining party missed out on any royal sightings, I am reliably informed that His Highness regularly frequents the restaurant — and his hands-on approach to the running of his establishment has proven an asset to the business.
A dose of decadence…
At the helm of La Clarence is head chef Christophe Pele — and his ship is not so much tightly run as expertly navigated. With an ever-changing menu and an unapologetic rejection of all things understated, to savour a seven course tasting menu by Pele is to experience the craft of a true master.
Highlights from the (frankly obscenely large) list of dishes I sampled, included a melt-in-the-mouth brioche feuilletée, sea urchin with bluefin tuna offal and the single best chocolate soufflé I have ever eaten — served with lashings of black truffle.
A dive into the cellars…
Lavish interiors, a criminally good food menu and impeccable service aside, the real star of the show at La Clarence resides in the form of a temperature-controlled room underground.
A tour of this cellar alone will make the Eurostar trip worthwhile. Even the most extravagant superlatives will not do my tasting experience justice — but suffice it to say that a taste of Le Clarté de Haut Brion may have ruined my hopes of ever enjoying another wine quite so much.
The Inspiration menu at Le Clarence costs €320 per person
Le Clarence Paris
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