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Hôtel Plaza Athénée's new menu

Rules are made to be broken at the Plaza.

By Sophie Dening
Hôtel Plaza Athénée

Rules are made to be broken at the Plaza.

Last year, Alain Ducasse's top lieutenants in Paris took part in a round of musical chairs, which saw Christophe Saintonge depart Plaza Athénée for Le Meurice, and 36-year-old Ducasse protégé Romain Meder arrive at the Plaza with permission to shred the hotel-dining rule book. Given how influential the kitchen-garden styles of Alain Passard and Pascal Barbot have become, Meder's mission - to skip the filet mignon, and get healthy/eco-conscious via pristine fish, vegetables and grains - isn't seriously radical, even if the buckwheat galette and fruit juice that arrive before the first glass of Champagne feel a bit like haute hippie health food.

The second snack of a cracker daintily loaded with mullet, bottarga and salsify sets the five-star planet back on its axis, and the fun really starts when a grilled sardine turns up served on grilled lettuce with its own crisp backbone arcing over as a garnish. Stockfish tripe "Monte Carlo style" is peasant food luxed up to the limit, or there's langoustine and caviar - no edible witticism needed. The killer dish of smoked cabbage, stacks of Breton lobster, bitter clementine and a wonderful jus gets halfway there with the "humble products" of the hairshirty premise, but who's quibbling. White-jacketed service is jolly on the surface, take-no-prisoners beneath the smiles, and the giant mirrored cloches, constellations of chandelier droplets and marble pepper grinders are - like the food - enough of a wow to awaken gratitude in even the most wealth-weary captain of industry. From around $355 without drinks; Hôtel Plaza Athénée, 25 Avenue Montaigne, Paris, +33 1 5367 6665