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