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Arpège restaurant in Paris

The most divisive of the three-star restaurants, Arpège is a place you’ll either love or hate. I’m in the former camp, through I acknowledge a worrying amount of repetition in Alain Passard’s tasting menu and the fact that his acolytes (David Toutain, Bertrand Grébaut) are working similar magic for a fraction of the price. Before booking Arpège, ask yourself this: are you more likely to focus on the amount of pleasure that Passard can tease from an onion, or on the stratospheric markup of that ingredient? If you answered the latter, better to seek out caviar somewhere else.

There seems to be more improvisation happening in Passard’s kitchen than among any of the other three-star restaurants. While certain vegetable dishes (the sushi, raviolis, couscous) have been a feature of the menu for years, plenty of other dishes (the sole with cabbage, the baby boar with turnips) seem to have been made up on the spot. I tend to enjoy a spontaneous riff, but others might prefer to have more composed and perfected dishes. Passard’s flavors are easy to love, but his forms – purée after mousse after velouté, can get a little lazy.

Read more about Our Favorite Three Star Restaurants in Paris

84 rue de Varenne, 75007
Open Monday-Friday for lunch & dinner
Closed Saturday & Sunday
Reservations online or at +33 1 45 51 47 33


Photos by Meg Zimbeck © Paris by Mouth


Patricia Wells (2011) “A big disappointment, once again. We sampled the 120 euro garden luncheon, and Passard turns out to be a real Johnny one note in the potager… course after monotonous, unimaginative course turned out a little more than I could bear of carrots, beets, turnips, onions. Dish after dish I kept waiting for Passard to finish the sentence. But he never did.”

Simon Says (2010) “… Passard… cultive lui-même ses légumes non loin de Paris, travaille le thème dans tous les sens, son restaurant est sans doute l’un des meilleurs observatoires sur le thème.”

Chez Ptipois (2009) “… le poème végétal d’Alain Passard s’élève désormais avec une délicatesse infinie, une maîtrise arrivée au stade du jeu permanent.”

Ulterior Epicure (2009) “… Rarely does a chef cook vegetables well. Even scarcer is a chef who can cook vegetables well AND do something interesting with them… Passard does both, and more.”

Food Snob (2009) “… there is Passard’s panache and flair, his creative and culinary genius to contend with. This is most keenly felt via his valuable vegetables.”

3 thoughts on “Arpège”

  1. Wow, some folks really have it in for this restaurant. Strange. I loved my lunch at L’arpege. It was one of the best meals I have had, period. While I am not a vegetarian, I was thrilled by the bounty of tastes and textures, almost all of which were meat free. Out of approximately 20 courses, there were two fish courses and one meat course. I also chose the wine pairing option and was delighted with the selections. The service was impeccable and the setting was simple/elegant with art deco touches. The bill was hefty, to be sure, setting me back about $400 when all was said, done and eaten, but for folks interested in experiencing the haut life without the rich meat and cream sauce blitz, L’Arpege is a fine choice. Bonus points for the presence on the floor of chef Passard and his welcoming persona. This is a fellow that embodies the essence of that which he cooks. And you can walk around the Rodin museum and sculpture garden across the street post-meal.

  2. After reading so many poor reviews for L’Arpege, I wanted to cancel my reservation there with my sister. My sister was inviting me to dine there for my birthday. She agreed that although there were so many poor reviews for this restaurant, we should try our luck. Well, guess what, the poor reviews were right on. The food is so expensive. The food was bland. Guy Savoy is expensive too but one is dazzled and amazed by the many flavors and textures found in just one bite. At least at Guy Savoy, one is indulging in delicate, tasteful food. L’Arpege was just one disappointment after another one. My risotto with truffles ( 124 euros) tasted like bland white rice soaked in dish water. The truffles saved the dish. Then when I ordered cheese, they carted over a wood cutting board with only 3 hard cheeses on it. I was given several shavings of my cheese of choice for 40 euros. Another thing that really hit me as being very unprofessional was the amount of help in their dining room. There were over 15 waiters, busboys…etc.all bumping into each other..with only a few of them that really knew what they were doing. So, if I am in this school like cafeteria, then why am I paying such high prices? L’Arpege is a scam. Read the reviews…Do not go there. If you want to have an excellent meal…go to Michel Troisgos in Roanne..or Guy Savoy, Gaya…or my favorite, L’Ami Jean. The only good thing about L’ Arpege was the sommelier who knew what he was pouring. I am sad that my sister was left with a hearty 780 euro bill…for such a disappointing experience. Shame on you ALain Passard. You give vegetables a bad name.

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