Restaurant review: Senderens Paris
Prandial Pleasure - Star Treatment.

To lose one Michelin star may be regarded as a misfortune, but to lose both looks like carelessness. But what about discarding three, quite deliberately? Well, it could be considered cool, like refusing an Oscar or a knighthood. Cool... but regrettable, surely?

But, if you listen carefully while dining at Alain Senderens' voluntarily de-starred restaurant in Paris's Place de la Madeleine, you may hear the chef humming: "Non, je ne regrette rien." The name may have changed (from Lucas Carton to Senderens), and Michelin stiffness replaced by groovy glass light-installations, but the clientele is still starry.

By shedding his stars, which he owned for 28 years, Senderens has been able to further his inventive cuisine while lightening his menu of three-starred ingredients. In addition, the cost per head has dropped (from €400 to a mere €100-€120). It clearly works: on a Sunday night, the restaurant was packed.
After a vial of watercress foam, we headed straight into a spring-like 2005 Pouilly Fumé (Senderens allows his sommelier to choose a wine first, and then the chef assembles flavours and textures to match).

In this case, the grassy white was set to a racy pile of cooked and raw asparagus, with delicious sliverettes of cuttlefish. Next came a coppery organic 2004 Chenin from Anjou, rich and pungent, and a perfect contender to take on a pillow of poached foie gras floating innocently in a piquant Chinese broth. Then a chunky 2001 Cotes du Rhone, which found hearty company in a succulent lamb shank with aubergine. Finally, the sweetness of a Chateau Doisy Daene Sauternes generously tempered a peppery meringue and a lively ginger ice cream.

We left feeling sprightly, and not surprised to hear that those pesky people at Michelin have bitten back: Senderens was reclassified with a mere two stars in the 2006 guide.

Senderens, 9 Place de la Madeleine, 75008 Paris. Tel: +33 142 65 22 90.