I remember visiting Paris as a young man, and trying to avoid the metro station Rer de Chatelet-Les Halles as much as I could, for the bustle of the thousands of people crossing or the suspicious environment of the Les Halles area.
Gone were the times that area was the “womb” of the city, being home of the main food marked in the region of Paris, that moved to Rungis almost 50 years ago.

Fortunately, nowadays, everything’s changed! A few years after starting the construction, and many millions of euros after, Les Halles is revitalized, appealing for international brands to install; and with its Canopée, an architectural structure covering the Forum des Halles, with over 18000 glass roof tiles, it’s a touristic attraction as well.

And below the Canopée, the master Ducasse decided to make his foray into the renewed world of the station Brasseries, similarly to Eric Frechon or Thierry Marx, creating a democratic idea of the signature cuisine, available to all (or almost!).

Opposite to what he’s been doing at Aux Lyonnais and at Benoit, Ducasse and his associate Olivier Maurey wanted to modernize the Brasserie, and adapt it to the ambiance of Les Halles. The atelier Ciguë was in charge of the decoration, creating a minimalist atmosphere, with some touches of the 70’s industrial era, allied to a contemporary design that leads to mixed opinions – you either love it or hate it!

A key piece in this decoration is the giant panel on the wall, reminding us an airport or station display, but instead of flight info or schedules, shows the menu and the chef’s suggestions. An irresistible detail!

But let us begin our gastronomic journey then, starting with a toast of Champagne Baron of Rothschild Extra Brut, a classic in Paris.

Followed a classic and delicious au levain baguette, crunchy outside, nice aroma, light and airy inside, always nicely paired with butter and the delicacies to follow.

Confit Duck Foie Gras and fig jam 
Wishing all the beginnings could be like this! Perfect tureen, rich, unctuous, of great flavor! The Foie went perfectly with the fig jam, slightly spicy. Very good!

Croaker, carrot, lime, and ginger 
The picture is not the best of the illustrations of this tartar, aka marinated fish with carrot, ginger, and lime. Delicate fish, right texture, nicely seasoned, and good sweet and sour balance.

“Grand Mère” Pate, pickles 
Continuing the saga of good dishes and sides to the great bread arriving continuously at the table (the anti-gluten brigade forgive me!). Classic pate, nicely prepared, great balance of fat and meat. Perfect were the homemade pickles, not only giving beauty to the dish but also taking it to another level.

Steak tartar
Then came the steak tartar and with it the first disappointment of the evening. Perfect looks, a preview of good flavor by the hands of the Ducasse team. But that was the flaw, no flavor of the seasoning, and mostly the quality of the meat. To compensate the blandness of the tartar, the chips were really addictive.

Coquilletttes with ham, comté, and black truffle
One of the famous dishes of the restaurant, also an allusion to children’s food, transporting it to luxury ingredients and haute cuisine techniques. Who never ate pasta with cheese and ham? And those who did, won’t ever go back after this combo. A dish that makes us smile, giving us the comfort of simplicity, raising the flavor bar for its ingredient combination. Delicious!

Entrecôte, chips, and Béarnaise 
And back to trouble, and with the same ingredient. The medium rare came to well cooked, and the flavor and texture of the meat also didn’t please us. A small flaw, paid for with the brilliant Béarnaise and the potatoes, worthy of a meal themselves.

Apricot Soufflé, almond ice cream
“After the sun comes the calm”, and so it was! After a less accomplished dish, a moment that’s been making the restaurant famous, the soufflés, here in a fantastic version of apricot, very well paired with the almond ice cream. Excellent technique and ingredient combination. A beautiful ending!

The wine list, without the extension of the great houses, contemplates a bit from all the French territory, with special emphasis on Bordeaux and Burgundy, of course. And the latter we chose for wines by the glass.

To say also, the service is great, nice and helpful, making us feel welcomed, even with all the rules and standards the Ducasse group must impose.

Final Remarks 
The Champeaux is part of a new wave of brasseries, where the great names of the French cuisine present more down to earth proposals, comfort food based in French traditions, and affordable by the majority wanting to visit a signature space, in this case, of the master Ducasse. The space and decoration were a nice surprise, with modern details and very tasteful. The cuisine had some flaws, namely the meats, but fortunately overcome by the quality of everything else we ate.

Therefore, and considering the many restaurant options in Les Halles, despite the slightly higher prices of the Champeaux, we recommend the visit, mostly for those searching for delicious classics like the soufllé or the foie gras, in a cosmopolitan and modern environment. See you soon!

Average price: 50€ per person without wines 
La Canopée – Forum des Halles, Porte Rambuteau – Paris
+33 01 53 45 84 50

Versão Portuguesa

Photos: Flavors & Senses

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