Brave are those who open a restaurant around the corner from the legendary Les Deux Magots and the Cafe Flore on le rive gauche in Paris, an area that the French revere as much as champagne, couture, and the right to bear cigarettes.
LA SOCIÉTÉ / ULTRA PRIVE
But when those fearless enough are Alex Denis and Jean-Louis Costes, then their latest enterprise, La Société, doesn't seem so foolhardy. Between the pair of them, they've racked up a list of successful hangouts as long as their menus: Denis with L'Avenue (John Galliano's canteen since Dior HQ is across la rue); Costes with the hip decor + gorgeous staff + nightclub ambience formula perfected at his namesake hotel and a slew of restaurants across Paris.
The day before it opened Denis gave a quick tour of the place, pointing out the Christian Liaigre interior (dark, sculpted wood, chocolate leather upholstery), the artwork (by Marc Rebello, Sophie Lafont, Peter Lindbergh), and the space on the floor where the right antique rugs would go when they finally turn up. (The wrong ones had already been sent back; they didn't deliver on the desired dusty-British-private members-club-vibe.) There is more light than the restaurateurs other ventures, by virtue of the fact that the original windows can't, by law, be changed, which is a good thing, since their other venues can be a little difficult for the optically challenged.
And the food? A continuation of what they already do well—classic French brasserie cuisine often enlivened with asian spicing. The old area won't know what has hit it, especially when this success (it was packed all weekend) is joined by the hotel Le Baron's Andre plans to open above La Montana lounge, an old is new again sixties-era boite that la jeuness doree flocked to back in the day, and which reopened last week.
And two other places worth trying, both organic: Bread & Roses, a delicious bakery/cafe a croissant's throw away from the Luxembourg Gardens and APC, and Glou, the Marais restaurant owned by Marion Cotillard. However, don't expect to see this patron mange icithat much; she is busy finishing her new movie Nine.
La Société, 4 place Saint-Germain-des-Pres, 75006 Paris. Telephone: +33 1 53 63 60 60.
Bread & Roses, 7 rue Fleurus, 75006 Paris. Telephone + 33 1 42 22 06 06.
Glou, 101 rue Vieille du Temple, 75003 Paris. Telephone: +33 1 42 74 44 32.