The Hôtel de Crillon’s Latest Restaurant Nonos is All Grill and Bones – WWD

What’s Parisian than snails, onion soup and a juicy steak?

Nothing when it comes to the Hôtel de Crillon and Michelin-star chef Paul Pairet. And that’s exactly what Nonos offers, the newly opened, more relaxed palace-side eatery on Place de la Concorde.

As a follow-up to the brasserie that opened in 2017 after the hotel’s extensive renovation, the team wanted to introduce a retro-style French grill concept. Pairet felt like the right partner, particularly for Managing Director Vincent Billiard, who had lived in Shanghai and met the chef at the three-star Ultraviolet, having eaten regularly at his Mr. & Mrs. Bund Steakhouse, which has a large seafood counter.

Pairet, who has long admired the Palace Hotel, envisioned this “retro grill that could be from the 1950s or 1970s with the hallmarks of these international restaurants,” right down to the carving cart that brings a beef tenderloin to the table to be sliced , nestled in the back of the hotel and accessible from Rue Boissy d’Anglas.

The starred chef liked the idea of ​​”common things – dishes that are familiar, that many people offer [on their menu] – done with care” and offering things “as easy as a green salad” as a kind of comfort food for Francophiles.

The menu features everything from fresh radishes served with a generous dollop of butter, slices of freshly baked quiche, pepper steak, all manner of pies from across France, and snails bathed in garlic butter. Mimosa eggs, seafood platters and more follow, thrown on the grill to be served with house sauces. It’s mostly European dishes spiced up with influences from elsewhere.

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But before you dive into what Pairet has to offer, there’s one more very French ritual: a basket of warm, thick-sliced ​​loaves from master baker Benoît Castel, complete with a slice of his trash-crunching ‘Pain d’Hier et de Demain’ (or ‘Bread of yesterday and tomorrow”, in French), which uses leftover bread as the starting flour for freshly baked ones. There is also a thick dash of Pairet’s spread, a mixture of butter, soy sauce, cream and a touch of olive oil.

Nonos owes its name to the cute word French children use instead of saying “bone” or “os” in French, which Pairet chose as “carnivore and friend of dogs” to express the new eatery’s no-frills personality and star chef ingredient , meat on the bone.

Nonos & Paul Pairet

The carving wagon and its star, the roast beef.

Virginie Garnier/Courtesy of Hôtel de Crillon

Taking on the ‘second restaurant’ of such a hotel was a challenge that Pairet was particularly interested in, not least because it was an opportunity to balance the sharply chiseled gastronomic experience of his Michelin-starred gourmet restaurant, L’Écrin.

“If you want to talk to your clientele in a hotel, but also to external customers, it’s very good to have an unusual one [gastronomic] Offering with maximum risk-taking or strong theme, but offering a secondary offering that is almost an extension of in-room dining,” he explains, characterizing such a menu as a broad and enduring selection of enticing crowd-pleasers, classics, or seasonal choices alike.

The menu at Nonos “is an exercise in simplicity, almost home cooking. So don’t expect gastronomic pirouettes,” says Pairet, laughing.

But how else to describe a deceptively simple cheese soufflé served there? A recipe that took 10 years to develop arrives piping hot in its bowl, only to be transformed into an elegantly simple bowl and topped with a culinary siphon’s worth of fluffy cheese foam, for a result that’s as decadent as more it sounds.

Simplicity also seemed like a way to demystify the Hôtel de Crillon, a legendary address and long-standing luxury property, and transform it into “a place you can walk in and linger in just by stepping in,” he says, like himself in reflects the menu and prices.

The menu was elaborated democratically enough, starting under 10 euros for its ‘distractions’, entrees and hot or cold entrees under 20 euros, all served in portions large enough to be shared and up to 250 euros for a 2nd person .5 pound Black Angus Porterhouse, indicated to serve two – or more.

Paul Paart

Paul Pairet on the balcony of the Hôtel de Crillon.

Virginie Garnier/Courtesy of Hôtel de Crillon

Three weeks after and the proof is in a room full of guests, where waiters are efficiently dispatching orders, pushing the carving trolley and cheese trolley, or flambéing a chocolate soufflé for those who still have room for dessert.

The linchpin of a restaurant, according to him, is whether it’s good or not. “That’s ultimately what matters. I like this adjective that defines a restaurant. I’ve been very binary about that to keep things simple,” he jokes.

Must-try options on the Nonos menu include Dover sole, with both sides of the skin still on and crisped before searing; an onion soup “so rich you could imagine it being made with beef broth,” and of course this roast on his carving cart.

“It’s not grilled, it’s slow cooked for 12 hours and then rested American or British style. You don’t see that very often in France,” he notes.

But Grill Pairet and he finally admits he would take rack of lamb with aioli sauce – “because I’m Catalan so aioli sticks everywhere, I’m happy,” he jokes.

The study of contrasts is central to Pairet’s career as a chef. He comes from the southern French city of Perpignan, which lies between the Mediterranean Sea and the foothills of the Pyrenees. Initially attracted to science and chemistry, he eventually turned to another form of chemistry – cooking.

After making a name for himself with Alain Ducasse’s Café Mosaic in Paris in the late 1990s, Pairet worked in Hong Kong; Sydney and Jakarta, Indonesia before moving to Shanghai in 2005 to open an avant-garde restaurant at the five-star Pudong Shangri-La Hotel.

Then came Ultraviolet, a restaurant he opened and conceived in a former garage in 2012, even before leaving Paris over a decade earlier.

Nonos & Paul Pairet

Flambéed chocolate soufflé from Nonos.

Virginie Garnier/Courtesy of Hôtel de Crillon

Equipped with scent projectors, UV lighting and the latest speaker systems to provide context for each of the 20 dishes served over the course of an evening, the 10-seat restaurant soon became the talk of the town for the development of Pairet’s theory of “psychotaste”. . “ the connection between taste, the other senses and the emotions triggered before eating. Accolades kept piling up, culminating in the three Michelin stars in 2017, which the restaurant retained.

After such a frenzy, his follow-up act was an all-day cafe called Polux in Shanghai’s hip Xintiandi district.

And Pairet is far from done with dichotomies.

At a time when plant-based dishes are all the rage, it might come as a surprise that a restaurant would bring meat to the table so unabashedly, but the fact that Nonos “isn’t in the zeitgeist doesn’t bother me,” says Pairet.

The same applies to the origin of the products sourced in France “if it is better”. Pairet did not limit himself to any particular territory, preferring taste to the habits of the “priority of territory” of the time.

Case in point: the cooked ham, which is usually considered a Parisian specialty, but here comes from a Spanish producer. “It happened to be the one that did best in the tastings,” he explains.

The same goes for a beef tenderloin, sourced from a French producer specializing in raising an Aubrac Wagyu breed, and one of the few vestiges of the former Brasserie d’Aumont concept that took the place now ceded to Nonos became. Out of dozens of options from across the country and beyond, it stood out – and stayed.

Nonos & Paul Pairet

This is how Pairet sees a table: full and ready to be shared.

Victor Bellot/Courtesy of the Hôtel de Crillon

In addition to Nonos, he has also imagined Comestibles (or edibles in French). Think of this as a hybrid between the restaurant’s pantry and an upscale convenience store where a range of produce will be available, either to take away or to snack on-site.

There are three seats at the counter but the plan is to serve this quick and easy fare alongside Nono’s greatest hits in the courtyard overlooking the underground swimming pool in warmer weather.

If Nonos & Comestibles, as the twin establishments are known, marks Pairet’s return to Paris, he won’t be staying — physically, at least.

Although he will soon return to French TV screens with the 14thth He is already back in Shanghai for the season of the “Top Chef” culinary competition. After three years on hold due to the pandemic, particularly the harsh lockdowns of 2022, the chef has entered 2023 with cooking torches blazing.

Prior to the opening of Nonos in late January, there was the opening of Charbon by Paul Pairet, an affordable and casual skewers and sundae restaurant at the IAPM mall. Next up is a pastry shop, also in the Chinese metropolis.

At 48 and a recipient of multiple awards, Pairet is all about “something that tastes good and works well,” he says. “I enjoy making restaurants that are simpler. That cultivates my passion for cooking.”


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