There are over 40,000 restaurants in Paris. Yet, with all of these choices, do you want to know where the chefs dine? Chefs dine at Drouant, one of Chef Antoine Westermann’s newest restaurants settled in a quiet section of the 2ème arrondissement. So, venez avec moi Chez Drouant (come with me to Drouant) and find out why.
Drouant: where chefs dine
joking around with Chef Michel Richard at Drouant
Parisian chefs. International chefs. Drouant is where they go. I know because I was there and I saw them gathering and dining. I shared time with some of them. Why Drouant? What is it about this restaurant that chefs migrate to and the Goncourt Academy calls its own? It is simple. Owner, Michelin-starred Chef Antoine Westermann and Director Chef Antony Clémot have combined the quality and elegance you would expect from a restaurant of this caliber with the devotion and love you could only expect from your own grandmother (your culinary-trained, Michelin-starred grandmother).
Elegant, but not fancy, Drouant’s focus is on the food. While the portions are generous (shockingly generous particularly given the reasonable prices) and the menu is diverse (ranging from traditional French fare to International tastes), Drouant understands that the key to excellent food is superior food prepared in a way that permits the quality of the food itself to take center stage. At Drouant, the food is the star.
You cannot truly appreciate superior food until you have had it. Once you have this “eureka” moment, the food you thought was good before you suddenly cannot remember. An example lies in the humble potato. It grows underground. It can be stored for months. Potatoes are around all year long, all over the world. We use them in a number of ways. However, have you ever had a really good potato? A potato freshly dug from the rich soil of France? Do you know what it tastes like? I thought I did, but I have never tasted anything like the potatoes at Drouant. Roasted or fried, these simple, humble tubers were bursting with an earthy, buttery depth of flavor. The texture was soft, creamy, and slightly granular. They were amazing. I have never tasted potatoes like that before. It was an “a-ha” moment.
Importantly, the potatoes were not unique. I dined at Drouant several times and everything I ate, from the ground up, animal or vegetable, savory or sweet, burst with flavor. The freshness and quality of the product was beyond compare.
Yet, it is not the superior quality of food alone that makes Drouant. It is the passion and generosity-of-self that every person at Drouant puts into their work that separates Drouant from the thousands of other restaurants in Paris (and elsewhere). In his book The Prophet, Kahlil Gibran said that “to work with love … is to charge all things you fashion with a breath of your own spirit. … [and] [that] work is love made visible.” As I sat one night on Drouant’s large patio under the Paris stars, looking at the signatures of famous French authors on the façade, I thought of this quote. It reminded me of Drouant because of the honest enthusiasm and care that the Drouant staff exhibited in their work, whether it be preparing my meal, plating my meal, serving my meal, or selecting the perfect wine. One night, unbeknownst to Chef Clémot, I observed him watch other guests to see their reactions to their meal. He did so because he cared about their dining experience. It was endearing to witness. To welcome guests into your restaurant and feed and care for them as if they are your family is rare. But that is how you will feel dining at Drouant, chef or no chef.
I am not a food critic nor a travel journalist. However, I am a chef and I do know food. I know where chefs go to dine. I know I cannot wait to return to Drouant the next time I am in Paris. Now, you know too.
chefs joking around at Drouant