When the much-anticipated luxury hotel The Peninsula Paris opened last summer, I couldn’t wait to get back to Paris to take a peek inside.
On my recent trip to Paris, I happily had the chance to visit the five star hotel for dinner at its stunning rooftop restaurant, L’Oiseau Blanc.
This first Peninsula Hotel in Europe is housed in a grand 19th century Haussmannian former palace (also once the Hotel Majestic) on the prestigious Avenue Kléber, close to the Champs-Élysées and Arc de Triomphe.
The historic building has been beautifully-restored and is perfectly complemented by contemporary luxury interiors and Far Eastern design details referencing the origins of the exclusive hotel group (its iconic flagship hotel is The Peninsula Hong Kong).
On arrival, we were greeted by two stone lions guarding the entrance to the hotel, which leads on to the opulent white and gold Lobby.
Inside The Peninsula Paris is truly breathtaking with an elegant white marble promenade, sweeping black and gold-trimmed staircase and exquisite artworks. At the heart of the hotel is the Lobby’s ethereal Dancing Leaves installation, made with over 800 hand-blown glass leaves by Lasvit.
The Peninsula Paris is a delight for foodies with authentic Chinese fine dining at LiLi, the gilded Lobby serving The Peninsula’s famed afternoon tea and The Kléber Terrace offering international dishes including the all-important Club Sandwich and typical Parisian steak.
L’Oiseau Blanc restaurant, bar and terrace on the sixth floor is the jewel in the hotel’s crown with spectacular 360 degree views over the city.
The restaurant has an aviation theme and even boasts a custom-made biplane hovering above the courtyard as though en route towards the Eiffel Tower. It is in fact a replica of the ill-fated biplane flown by flying aces Charles Nungesser and Francois Coli who attempted to cross the Atlantic in 1927 from Le Bourget.
Peninsula Hotels are known for their love of motor vehicles, such as the fleet of Rolls Royces at The Peninsula Hong Kong, and L’Oiseau Blanc extends its tribute to aviation with flying objects and artefacts in glass cases and biplane motifs on the menu and tableware.
At the helm of L’Oiseau Blanc is acclaimed Alsatian Chef Sidney Redel, who previously worked for Pierre Gagnaire in Paris and Courchevel.
He brings Paris’ hip ‘bistronomy’ concept to L’Oiseau Blanc, celebrating France’s finest produce and seasonal ingredients with a daily-changing set menu. This offering is a refreshing change from Michelin-style fine dining that you might expect from a restaurant in a five star luxury hotel.
The chic restaurant feels spacious yet intimate with leather banquettes, crisp white table cloths and red roses adorning the tables. It also has a retractable roof, so you can enjoy dinner in the open air during the warmer months.
We started with a glass of crisp, refreshing Peninsula Paris Champagne and were swiftly treated to the dazzling light show from the Eiffel Tower. It was a very memorable moment – what could be more romantic than sipping Champagne against the backdrop of one of the world’s most iconic monuments twinkling away?
We ordered from the three-course Sierra Menu (€99 per person), which offers two choices for each course, however the chefs are happy to present other options if there’s something else that takes your fancy.
To start, I ordered Carabineros – tandoori, bitter citrus marmalade. This was a very satisfying Asian-inspired starter with complex, malty flavours from the mellow tandoori spices and intense citrus bitterness cut through with a flash of freshness from the cucumber.
Carabineros prawns are known for their bright red colour and robust flavours and these ones were tender, plump and utterly moreish.
Steven went for the Duck foie gras – terrine, smoked breast, beetroots and raspberries. The high quality foie gras had a smooth texture and its rich flavour was lightened with the acidity and sweetness of the raspberries. It was an interesting, modern way to serve a classic French dish.
I followed this with a typically French Matured beef chuck from Limousin, bone marrow, anchovies and spring onions. The flavoursome beef was cooked medium as requested with a tender pink centre and was nicely browned on the outside.
It was served atop a smooth potato purée with paper-thin golden potato crisps, small pieces of soft bonemarrow, a wilted whole spring onion and a rich, meaty jus. I didn’t actually detect the anchovies, but perhaps they were subtly blended with the potato.
Steven tried the John Dory seasoned with Iberian chorizo, carrots and turnips with curcuma. The succulent, substantial fillet of John Dory had a clean, fresh taste and was complemented by the bold, slightly spicy chorizo. The beautifully-presented vegetables added some colour and tasted lovely and market fresh.
Desserts at The Peninsula Paris are by Executive Pastry Chef Julien Alvarez – winner of the Coupe du Monde de la Patisserie in 2011 – and we were excited to see what he had designed for that evening.
Since we were so close to the Charle de Gaulle Étoile and gazing at the little stars adorning the Eiffel Tower, it seemed only right to try the Chocolate star, crunchy praline, macae ice cream.
This gorgeous dessert was everything that I’d hoped for. The glossy dark chocolate dome was filled with a velvety chocolate mousse and ganache with a crunchy praline biscuit base. The delicious macae ice cream was served atop a chocolate cookie and the delicate gold-painted star biscuit made it even more special.
Fruity freshness, almond biscuit, mango yuzu cream, strawberry sorbet was bursting with juiciness and exotic fruit flavours. The soft almond sponge and fine biscuit was topped with fragrant, smooth mango and yuzu cream and fresh raspberries with flecks of gold leaf.
The strawberry sorbet was a real highlight and the mango and lime compote finished the dessert perfectly.
To round off our meal, we were served pots of Earl Grey tea and some decadent white chocolate nut clusters with a slightly iridescent sheen. The rain started beating against the glass, but it did nothing to dampen our spirits as we couldn’t be more content sipping tea in front of the Eiffel Tower.
L’Oiseau Blanc at The Peninsula Paris is the perfect place to experience the magic of Paris from above with stylish surroundings, exceptional service and a creative yet unpretentious menu. I’d love to visit again in the summer to make the most of the city views over a cocktail, however dinner in the evening with the Eiffel Tower light show is unmissable.
For more information and booking, visit: www.peninsula.com
Chérie City was a guest of The Peninsula Paris
Photos by The Peninsula Paris and Chérie City