There is nothing more delightful than dining in a historic restaurant in Paris and there are quite a few of them but one of the most charming is Benoit located in the heart of Les Halles quarter. Named after its founder Benoit Matray who opened the restaurant in 1912, the restaurant remained in the family for nearly three generations before Michel Petit his grandson handed it over to Alain Ducasse Entreprise in 2005. Entering Benoit with its typical Bistro ambiance is like stepping back in time, perhaps to the days of once popular wholesale food market of Les Halles prior to its destruction in the early 70’s. At Benoit you are sure to get pampered. Bruno Jousseaume will look after you during your epicurean journey, Pierre Charles Gandilhon the sommelier wine specialist will help you out with the selection of great names in French wines and you may even meet Eric Azoug, the chef of Benoit. If the team makes you feel at home the decoration too adds to the nice feeling of its bygone charm. Newspapers hanging along the lovely carved glass decoration, nicely drawn up menus aesthetically placed on the tables and in one corner an array of cheese and a huge lump of unpasteurized traditional butter just waiting to be devoured – and it was a real treat !
An authentic bistro, traditional French dishes have always been served at Benoit and are still being served to this day. For this, Alain Ducasse and chef Eric Azoug have selected some of the best recipes recreated after famous French cooks. This year Benoit pays homage to three great names in the French Gastronomy, Auguste Escoffier, Fernand Point and Alain Chapel. Fabulous dishes on the seasonal menu with cheese puffs and foie gras placed on thin wafer bread to begin with to whet the appetite. The savoury amuse-bouche are served with an exquisite Alain Ducasse champagne poured from a magnum bottle …
Still wildly intoxicated with the gougère cheese choux pastry, another yummy pâté en croûte Benoit style to taste, and fresh crisp lettuce leaves drizzle with walnut oil …
Followed by Auguste Escoffier delightful Vol-au-vent de sole à la Meunière (puff pastry with savoury sole seafood mixture and meunière sauce). Alain Ducasse and Eric Azoug chef of Benoit have recreated this dish in a more lighter version with smaller sized puff pastry alongside poached rolled sole fish garnished with mussels, shrimps, crayfish and sauce marinière. This delicious dish is served with Chablis white wine 1er Cru 2009.
Epicurean journey into the world’s great gastronomic chef continues. The long awaited moment finally arrives and I am on the threshold of discovering one of France most unique way of cooking chicken – the famous yellow farm chicken from Landes cooked in pig’s bladder. It might sound weird and maybe a little distasteful at first, but it finally turns to be a real delight. This special dish was apparently popular in the 30’s, and the three starred Michelin chef Fernand Point from Lyon, used to serve it at his restaurant Les Pyramide in Vienne (South East France). Cooking process can be tricky and precision is needed. The chicken is cooked in a pig’s bladder with truffles placed under the skin and with a touch of Armagnac and Madeira. It is then boiled in an aromatic chicken bouillon. Once cooked it is immediately brought on a silver platter to be served. Here it is the famous yellow farm chicken from Landes cooked in pig’s bladder.
The bladder is then punctured letting out an aromatic fragrance to be then carved and served with Escoffier’s classic Albufera sauce and crisp seasonal vegetables.
Here it is at its final stage “Volaille jaune des landes cuite en vessie, légumes primeurs sauce Albufera” A must try when visiting Paris and this particular dish is only served at Benoit.
Time for dessert and to give way for the sweet Jasmin Cream created by the three Michelin starred chef Alain Chapel from Lyon. He is also considered as one of the creators of the Nouvelle Cuisine.
More sweets to try out at Benoit, such as the irresistible profiteroles with hot chocolate and Alain Ducasse signature dish the cookpot of figs accompanied with blackcurrant sorbet and served with Banyuls sweet red wine.
20, rue St Martin
Tel 01 42 72 25 76
Categories: Benoit restaurant