When my friends Caroline and Olivier asked where I would like to have dinner on this mild August evening, I told them I was dying to try the new restaurant at Hôtel de Crillon which has been closed for four years for restoration. With its 124 rooms and suites and remodeling of the 18 th century building by Gabriel, the hotel has managed to keep its elegance with a modern twist. There are two restaurants, a gastronomical one, “L’Ecrin” for 24 guests and “brasserie d’Aumont” with courtyard dining.
We were a little surprised by the small straw hat worn by the chasseur at the entrance but everyone including the discreet security man, was charming and smiling and relaxed, welcoming us with a smile in the new « temple » of the Rosewood hotels. Great efforts have been put in the uniforms to make modern billionaire customers feel at home in this palatial home.
We walked through the small hall with a reception desk on the left where the gift shop used to be. The different salons in the lobby are intimate and different in style, with the Ambassadeurs bar and the tea room or Jardin d’hiver to the right, overlooking the interior courtyard.
Everything is geared at being not intimidating and it works. We were shown into the brasserie d’Aumont, which is not on rue Boissy d’Anglas anymore but inside the building and were led into the garden designed by Louis Benech. The beige armchairs and tables are very confortable, but when I asked to lift the awning which blocked the table from the evening light, a slight crisis erupted…
The charming waitress with a bright red lipstick and a bow tie, called her maitre d’ who went looking for a golden key that would roll up the umbrella. He started joking in poor taste about the key being in real gold because of the rich owners of the hotel and was not wearing a tie but a neck scarf ” to look more casual” we were told. Not a good idea! The very heavy umbrella refused to fold entirely, so after my friend Caroline got brushed off by the fabric, we decided to stick to the awning
We ordered a very good Saint Estèphe Haut Marbuzet 2012 from the sommelier dressed in a becoming purple velvet smoking jacket. And the menu was perfect. A selection of Callot oysters which can also be tasted at the oyster bar inside, some delicious frog legs and a green pea soufflé. I had the œuf mimosa which was out of this world, dressed like a little sandwich of white and yokes with a sauce. But hesitated to choose the Pâté en croûte, a specialty of chef Justin Schmitt. Then came the sweetbreads, which I try in every restaurant, and they were very good and served with cauliflower and broccoli, two nice healthy vegetable. My friends had sole and seemed happy with it.
Desserts were slightly disappointing. A good “two chocolate tart” was fine but a huge Baba au rhum to share, tasted more like an excellent home cooked lemon sponge cake, with no rum and no wipped cream.
Mostly the atmosphere was a winner. The temperature was ideal, there were little things happening all the time like two Russian 10 year old girls running around with a teckel on leash that they had borrowed from a trendy gay couple. The staff did not budge, it was charming. And the beautiful camelia trees and climbing jasmine were light by lamps that roll around the plants like a snake. There is a little bit too much of « did you enjoy this dish? » or « is everything to your taste? », but unfortunately this is inevitable nowadays.
We walked around after dinner and visited the Cour Gabriel where one can see the underground swimming pool in a clever trompe l’œil and were told that the space is usually reserved to hotel residents. A lovely place for lunch though !
There are many little intimate sitting areas in the lobby and armagnac tasting spaces, backgammon table, books on Hotels particuliers of Paris, and I recognised a beautiful brass sculpture by Nathanael Le Berre, which had won the Prix de l’Intelligence de la Main of Fondation Bettencourt Schueller. Objects and artworks are all interesting without being overpowering.
We finished at the bar which is grand. It is located in the former 18 th century dining room of Les Ambassadeurs facing place de la Concorde. The horseshoe shaped bar reminded me of the Palio in New York in the eighties. It is definitely a place you want to hang around and there is music at night.
I did not visit the bedrooms but from the pictures I saw, they seem fun especially the suite Bernstein with a private terrace on the Concorde. If you have something to celebrate take advantage of the summer months to have dinner at Brasserie d’Aumont, it is quite an exquisite place (appr. 130€ and lunch menu at 44€). The 24 room Ecrin dining room is discreetly hidden from public view. The Chef Christopher Hoche reigns over it. You can also have tea in the Salon d’hiver and taste Jérôme Chaucesse’s pastries. My feeling is that the Crillon got everything right except maybe some of the uniforms. But that can be improved over time!
Share this Post