I met a man on the elevator to Gigi, on the 6 th floor of Théâtre des Champs Elysées, who had been there before and he said that on a day like this the place would be spectacular but is a little noisy. He was right all the way and my excitement to discover the new Laurent Gourcuff Paris Society group spot in Paris was not deterred. The decor by Hugo Toro is very theatrical with yellow marble from Sienna and travertine from Rome for a fabulous floor. But of course, it is a little noisy. The menu is Italian, the customers very mixed but young (30 to 40), and obviously very trendy because, wearing jeans and T shirts for the men and high heels for the girls seems to be the rule. The food was good except for my favorite dessert, the Monte Bianco (Mont Blanc) which looked like the mountain in the Alps but did not taste like anything.
I loved the plates which all come from Gien, the traditional faience manufacture, and there are a few very good ideas on the menu. A section of carpaccio, sea bass, red tuna, beef or scallops. But beware they are appetizers and tiny. There are pasta and risotto of course, Fusilli al pomodoro, Trofie al pesto, Linguine alle vongole, Spaghetti with lobster and truffled mafaldine. The pizza my friend chose, gorgonzola, speck, butternut, was (to me) not very good but she loved it. I thought the crust was too thick. There was sea bass as fish of the day, veal alla Milanese (37€) and lamb shoulder (140€ for three). Also grilled octopus or grilled lobster. Something for every taste and every purse.
The service was excellent and when I dropped my fork by mistake, a young waiter jumped to give me another one. How he saw it or heard it? I have no idea but he was efficient… The views are wonderful whether on the first floor overlooking avenue Montaigne or on the top one facing the Eiffel Tower. It is hard to decide which space to book because, at least at lunch time, there was no difference in the public. We did not spot any celebrities but then now, it is very hard to make the difference… between two jeans and two black T shirts. At night the scene is probably more animated with live performances. Gigi is open seven days a week.
The menu is very flexible and you can eat just a pizza (19€ to 48€) or order caviar (545€ to 1300€) and lobster. It’s a very clever way to have customers as varied as “X-ray” ladies, as Tom Wolfe used to call New York socialites in “The Bonfire of Vanities”, or show off eaters, regular girlfriends catching up on each other’s love life, or Oriental ladies who were eating a very pretty platter of fresh exotic fruit, mango, grapes, passion fruit, etc…( 42€). It is so rare to find fruit in a restaurant! We did not taste the waffles alla nociollata nor the Mascarpone cream puffs, but I’ll have to go back for these.
The magic of the place are the views which old Parisians discovered when the elevation was built on top of Théâtre des Champs Elysées thirty years ago. Everyone was terribly chocked when in 1988, Jacques Chirac authorized the president of Caisse des Depôts, Robert Lion, a good friend of President Mitterrand, to build an 8 meter high extra floor on avenue Montaigne, above a listed building designed by Auguste Perret and Antoine Bourdelle. This became a fancy restaurant, La Maison Blanche, and Gigi has now inherited the premises but transformed it into a much larger space on two floors.
There is a special energy which grows from this decor and the beautiful light coming from South and East is obviously an asset. The restaurant is large and serves 100 people but you don’t have the feeling to be in a cantine, for every area is careful delimited. The South terrace is beautiful and some customers were having their coffee outside. There was almost a feeling of being in a ski resort. The Franco Mexican designer Hugo Toro has decorated two more Gigi restaurants in Ramatuelle near St Tropez and in Val d’Isère in the Alps. This could become a new brand for the trendies, a bit like Soho house without the membership?
So don’t expect a gargantuan dinner French style but you will have a very decent Italian meal with nice service and lovely plates and cutlery. We did not drink so I can’t tell you how the wine list is? but expect a bill for 80-100€ for a normal three course meal. And at the Bellini bar, you can come and grab little things to eat with your cocktails.
Gigi, 15 avenue Montaigne. Booking is mandatory, at night at least. Tel: 01 47 23 55 99