Talented young chef Jean Imbert takes the helm at Hôtel Plaza Athénée’s Le Relais Plaza.
A Parisian institution, Le Relais Plaza restaurant first opened in 1936. Now, 85+ years later, chef Jean Imbert is making his mark on the iconic brasserie. Overseeing the culinary direction of Hôtel Plaza Athénée and its restaurants, at Le Relais Imbert’s efforts err toward the understated.
We stopped by the Art Deco institution for lunch to test out Imbert’s new menu, which honours the heritage of Le Relais, and takes inspiration from his grandmother and traditional cooking – all with an innovative kick, of course.
Open every day for lunch and dinner, Le Relais has proven exceedingly popular since its reopening in September 2021. In short: booking is essential.
In line with Imbert’s inauguration, the Art Deco interior of this classic Parisian brasserie has been added to by design duo Bruno Moinard and Claire Bétaille. On entry, you’ll instantly spot Diane Chasseresse’s original frescoes, which are lightened by an array of palms, ferns, and other greenery, and jar perfectly with the fan-clad patterned carpet under foot. Once seated, inspect the unique tableware, imagined by Imbert, at your place setting – certain to be a point of conversation, the delft has been specially designed for the restaurant.
What To Order
A short and confident menu makes for a strong start. We suggest ordering the terrine and Porto jelly for the table, followed by a medley of starters, including the fresh scallops with walnuts and cider sabayon and the delightful goats’ cheese tartine. Vegetarian diners should opt for the sucrine grilled on the barbecue – side note: ingredients have been carefully sourced by Imbert, who has collaborated with trusted French producers, including Jacky Mercier for his lettuce from the Ferme du Perches.
The main courses are where things get particularly toothsome. The signature gratin of sea bream 1962, which pays tribute to Imbert’s grandmother, is a popular choice, and is accompanied by stuffed tomato and pilaf rice. The sole meunière is another classic. For something light and fresh, the steamed yellow pollock with artichoke and clementine is just the ticket, while at the other end of the scale there’s the staggering beef fillet/foie gras in brioche pastry and dauphinois to defeat (or be defeated by).
If dining at Le Relais becomes a regular occurrence (and by all accounts, we’d like it to), the weekly menu is sure to appeal. Sausage in brioche is served on Thursdays, while Mont-Saint-Michel mussels with potato sticks are Fridays’ dish of the day. Plan your booking accordingly.
For dessert, choose from a classic selection of dishes prepared by Angelo Musa and Elisabeth Hot. The minute île flottante is a knockout and is designed for sharing. Meanwhile, chocolate lovers will declare the luscious chocolate soufflé served with vanilla ice-cream ‘the clear winner’ and ‘sweetest of them all’.
Who To Bring
Your significant other, your mother, your business partner… there is no plus one that won’t be impressed by Le Relais.
The Dress Code
Le Relais is the ultimate Avenue Montaigne address, so best to dress accordingly. Style notes: simple, chic, and polished.