Ledoyen, Paris

July 2, 2009

Le Pavillon Ledoyen was built in 1792 in this still green spot alongside the Champs-Elysées. It has had many incarnations since. The arrival of Christian Le Squer as chef in 1998 set Ledoyen on track for its current three Michelin star ranking. So it was with great anticipation that Christine, Karyn, Blair, Linda and I went for dinner on June 30, 2009. 


We were seated at a round table at one end of the long, formal dining room. The apéritif trolley arrived right away. Three of us ordered the Billecart-Salmon “Blanc de blancs” Champagne and two the 2004 Veuve Cliquot Champagne Rosé.

There were four little hors d’oeuvres for each of us.

A “tomato rock” flavored meringue, a poached quail egg, a smoked haddock square and a filled kumquat. Excellent.

The menu offered many à la carte possibilities, but we decided to have the Menu Découverte, which included three of the well-known specialties of the house. It is not a tasting menu as the portions are ample. There was no printed version of this. Each course was explained to us in English and French, but details were missing. In my descriptions below I have relied on other upscale bloggers for details. Most of them tried the same dishes, but there are seasonal variations. Thank you Adam, Food SnobChuck, Julot, and Laurent.

We ordered a bottle of 2005 Domaine Remizières, Philippe Desmeure “Emilie” Hermitage Blanc and a bottle of 2002 Domaine Marquis d’Angerville “Les Fremiets” Volnay. Both were excellent and appropriate for the cuisine.

The first course was a dish of mixed spring vegetables on a vegetable gel. On top was a foam which tasted slightly citric.


The second course was langoustines done two ways. There was a large one, butterflied and cooked quite simply served with an emulsion of citrus and olive oil. Another had been rolled up into a ball and fried inside a crust of crispy shreds.

I enjoyed the simpler version as it let the high quality of the langoustine shine through. The frothy version of mayonnaise was an excellent garnish. Linda thought that the crispy one was superb. Christine wrote:

I particularly enjoyed the lightly coated and fried “ball” on top of the prawn tail. It had a slight Asian feel to it (a very light seaweed taste) but that was not the reason I liked it. The taste and texture was just fabulous. The prawn taste was distinct and it was cooked just perfectly so the flesh was plump and warm. The coating was light and crunchy with the seaweed taste just emerging.

The next course was a thick rectangular block of turbot which had been lightly steamed. There were diagonal strips on top which Food Snob says are black truffles, breadcrumbs and squid ink. Little tips of celery leaves add to the decor. A foam hides the base of a truffle emulsion and mashed ratte potatoes.

I found this dish to be disappointingly bland. Perhaps the turbot needs rougher treatment to bring out its flavor and gelatinous texture. The unassertiveness of the truffles was probably not due to the summer season, but more that they are pre-prepared for this dish which is undoubtedly served every day at Ledoyen.

The meat course was a large veal sweetbread which had been impaled in both directions with a lemongrass stalk and roasted. It was served with peas and fava beans and a sauce of green herbs.

Food Snob informs us that the sweetbread had been marinated in soy sauce, which gave it the umami caramelization outside that contrasted so nicely with the creamy, lemongrass-infused inside. He also says that the little bits on top are roasted crumbs of sweetbread from the trimmings. We thought that this dish was excellent.

Christine asked for a substitution for the sweetbread and received this chicken dish.

There were chicken breasts with wild mushrooms and potatoes. She enjoyed it.

The cheese trolley was surprisingly restrained in its selections, which makes sense. There was a good variety of types and all seemed to be in perfect condition. The fig bread served with it was excellent. As we had finished our Volnay, the sommelier proposed glasses of forty year old Quinta da Romaneira Port, which were excellent.

The predessert was a sorbet of bakers’ yeast on top of a base of white chocolate and almond.

I really liked the yeasty flavor.

The first dessert was a caramel wafer on grapefruit sorbet tubes, on a layer of fresh grapefruit on a base of candied grapefruit.

There was just the right amount of sugar to balance the citric acidity.

The second dessert was a smoked caramel sorbet on top of chocolate shards topped with frozen milk.

I really liked the smokiness of the sorbet.

There were four migardises for each of us.


Pineapple lollipops with coconut and lime zest.

Caramel eclairs

Orange mousse cubes with bitter orange drops.

We had a very good time. The cuisine was generally superb with just the right size portions. The ambience in the old dining room was traditional and relaxing. The service was formal, but still friendly and helpful.

And so we went back out into the Paris night with a good feeling.



4 Responses to “Ledoyen, Paris”

  1. ChuckEats Says:

    Isn’t it wonderful when a meal of that caliber, and expense, actually meets expectations? I wonder how that turbot dish became a classic b/c I’ve never read a good review of it. Ledoyen is at the top of my list to return to in Paris; and i think i will go all-seafood next time.

  2. Elaine Says:

    Thank you for sharing another wonderful evening with me. The food, ambience, and classic setting are memorable.

    Happy Fourth of July!


  3. I agree with Chuck. I recently wrote up my meal at Ledoyen on my blog. Chuck, if you read my review, I gave the turbot thumbs up. But next time, I have a date with those sweetbreads.

  4. S Lloyd Says:

    Just had lunch at Ledoyen this past March 25th. On this lunch, I was less taken by their savories (a bit discrete as far as gustatory enjoyment goes, I thought), but the dessert was delicious. For the affordable menu dejeuner (88 euros), the sublime service and pleasant classic decor, I’d highly recommend Ledoyen. My full detailed photo & text report on this lunch: http://tinyurl.com/6bgjpjs

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