The perfect spot: Located on the first floor of the five-star Cheval Blanc Paris hotel, Plénitude boasts stunning views of the Seine. The room is an intimate white and yellow cocoon, with cream bubbles on the wall and just 26 seats. Add to that the embroidered towels, vintage silverware and the white-glove service, and all the codes of French haute cuisine are there – with an extra touch of emotion and kindness.
A word on the chef: Arnaud Donckele, who was born in Normandy, is as modest as he is gifted. He also runs a fine-dining restaurant in Saint-Tropez, La Vague d’Or, that has held three Michelin stars since 2013. Plénitude became one of the few French restaurants to be awarded a coveted three stars just seven months after it opened.
Sauces are everything: The chef is passionate about broth, velvet, consommé, sabayon, coulis, cream, virgin… If you think that sauces are the essence of the French cuisine, then you have come to the right place: Donckele has a recipe book with 200 different examples. Each one is like a perfume or a liquid painting. At Plénitude, the meat and fish complement the sauces, not the other way round.
The sweetest part: Donckele and Maxime Frederic – one of the best pastry chefs in France today – make a close team. When a rose-shaped pear ice cream is served with another pear poached in warm wine and chocolate, you can feel the same sensibility.
Attention to detail: It took two years to choose the crockery, the artisans, the ceramist and the fabrics. And there is a cheese cellar to discover (open only before dessert).