Scoring High at Palais Royal

February 9, 2015By Heidi EllisonArchive, Restaurants


The new restaurant’s interior is bright, spacious and elegant.

A few weeks ago, I reviewed Pirouette, a great little bistro near the Forum des Halles, and now I have tried its new baby sister, Zébulon, in another part of town where it’s often hard to find a reliably good meal, near the Palais Royal.

The friendly reception was the same, while the prices were a tad higher and the interior a bit more elegant: clean, modern and spacious, all in light-colored wood with handsome dark wood chairs. The restaurant stretches from the Rue de Richelieu to the Rue Montpensier, with a glassed-in kitchen between the two dining rooms, a bar in one room and a baby grand in the other.

At lunchtime, you can have two courses for €20, but you get no choice, or you can order anything you want for €45 for three courses.

I chose the first option, with dishes that are not my usual preferences, but I was curious to see what was available for the lower price. As at Pirouette, both dishes were of top quality, satisfying and gastronomically interesting. The first was a dish of cooked romaine lettuce and Swiss chard in a lovely sauce topped with


succulent morsels of pork and a surprise layer of Parmesan cheese, which had a nice balancing effect. For my main course I had the mullet with tiny grenaille potatoes, Romanesco


broccoli and beurre blanc sauce. Each element was cooked just right and together they sang in harmony.

My friend the food blogger went à la carte and, as he put it, really “scored,” starting with the “dorade confite” (French food people have recently been using the word “confit” in new ways; in this case, it meant marinated in olive


oil and lemon). It was encrusted with toasted sesame seeds and served with persimmon. Divine! Yet perhaps even more divine was his luscious, meaty pigeon, its legs stuffed with


the giblets, cooked with 11 spices and served with pommes Anna (sliced potatoes baked in butter) and purée of celery. Wow!

My less-expensive dishes were not as sophisticated, but they were so delicious that I did not feel at all cheated.

Continuing the adventure, we had two desserts. The charming co-owner Thomas, who waited on us, reminded us that his chef was originally a pastry chef, so we had to try his creations. I went for the mandarin-orange cookie base


topped with fresh mandarin sections and crème chiboust (pastry cream with meringue), browned under the grill, with a side of basil/mandarin ice cream. Delicious, with one little drawback: the orange sections were nearly tasteless. Could just have been the bad one in the bunch, so I won’t hold it against the chef. The other dessert was a poached pear with honey, marjoram, almonds and lemon/marjoram ice cream. While they were both fine, I was a tiny bit disappointed that they didn’t send me over the moon.

That is a very small complaint about a very fine meal. I can wholeheartedly recommend Zébulon, apparently named after a cartoon character who hops around on a spring, a reference to the restaurant’s country-hopping chef, Yannick Lahopgnou, who is from Cameroon and has worked in Japan and was trained at the Meurice by three-star chef Yannick Alléno.


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