NOTE: This restaurant is closed for renovations until April 2, 2016. The bustling Saint-Lazare train station is home to this eagerly anticipated new restaurant from chef Eric Fréchon (L’Epicure and Mini Palais). Open seven days a week but requiring advance reservations and suffering, by many accounts, from atrocious service that undermines Fréchon’s delicious Norman-inflected cooking.
Among the hundreds of debuts in 2013, we added more than 50 new openings to our guide to Paris restaurants. But what did we really love? To narrow it down, we asked our contributing editors – a diverse group of Paris-based food and wine writers – to nominate their favorite new openings of 2013. Among their top picks, a few trends are clear: half are helmed by young foreigners (Canadian, Australian, Japanese, Italian), more than half include a bar for drinks and nibbles, and most are second or third offerings from an already-popular restaurant group.
Lazare was the biggest opening of the rentrée 2013 – a splashy restaurant from a three-star chef inside the Gare Saint-Lazare. Eric Fréchon, who has been branching out from his home base of L’Epicure (formerly Le Bristol) ever since he opened Le Mini Palais in 2010, was purportedly serving Normandy-inflected comfort food to travelers en route to that region or arriving from the other side of Paris. Reviews had been ecstatic, praising the menu as “glorieusement française,” (Gaudry), noting the “friendly, professional service” (Moore) and celebrating the casual openness of the place (Rubin).
In nine years of dining in Paris and writing about its restaurants, this was the worst service I have ever experienced. It was shockingly, almost comically bad.