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Guy Savoy, Paris

Mervyn Rothstein
Posted: January 3, 2007

At Restaurant Guy Savoy, just north of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris's 17th arrondissement, the caviar comes in many colors. The foie gras and black truffles are sliced in abundance, seemingly to the musical accompaniment of a cash register's ka-ching.

Ordering two or three courses à la carte can run $200 to $225 a person, without wine. A six-course tasting menu is about $300 a person, not including wine, coffee or bottled water. A good wine can make the meal easily approach $800 for two -- and a very good wine can increase the tab to close to $1,000. That's a lot to pay for a meal.

And yet Guy Savoy (named for its eponymous chef) has three Michelin stars, the highest rating in the world of food, and a score of 18 out of 20 from the prestigious Gayot guide, whose critic declared that Monsieur Savoy "transforms traditional products into works of art."

So is Guy Savoy worth a visit?

Much has been written lately on whether any meal is worth as much as $1,000, and Restaurant Guy Savoy -- both in Paris and its new Las Vegas outpost -- has been part of the discussion. But these days, you can make that judgment for yourself, as you can visit this grand Parisian palace of haute cuisine without spending a grand, or anything close. The restaurant offers a little-known special, advertised only on its Web site (www.guysavoy.com): a three-course lunch for $130 a person, with a selection of fine wines available from $13 a glass. And afterward, you can top off your meal with an excellent Cuban cigar from the restaurant's cigar trolley.

When you arrive at the restaurant, you will be greeted by a uniformed doorman who has no need to open the door -- it's electronic. The dining area itself is strikingly modern, in grays and brown wood, and illustrates one of Savoy's other passions: the fine arts. The restaurant is a veritable museum, with colorful contemporary abstract paintings on the walls and showcases of African sculptures such as Yoruba statues, Bozo tribal masks and pieces from Bali, Cameroon and the Ivory Coast. These works of art complement the works of art the chef will create for your table.

Savoy has said that a restaurant "is the last civilized place on earth. No one can be indifferent to its calming aspect." Inner calm is what you will probably feel as you sit down, but it will be a calm mixed with anticipation and excitement. For Savoy has also said that "fine cuisine is festive, joyful and poetic." And he is true to his word.

The service at Guy Savoy effortlessly mixes precision with smiles, humor and even a touch of unself-conscious playfulness. The days of hauteur accompanying haute cuisine are long over.

Chef Savoy himself, if he's in Paris, will make several forays into the dining area -- a series of small rooms, four or five tables per room, an arrangement that makes everything seem intimate and personal. Savoy is the quintessence of geniality, greeting each table with a smile and often pausing to discuss a dish or an ingredient with any diner who asks.

Guy Savoy distills the essence of each ingredient, matching it with complementary and sometimes surprising tastes and combinations. If you visit in the fall, for example, you will invariably encounter a ballet of truffles and wild mushrooms.


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