L’Angle du Faubourg
195 rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, Paris
Of all the temples of gastronomy in Paris, Taillevent is perhaps the most revered. First opened in 1946 by André Vrinat, the restaurant is named after the medieval cook and cookbook author Guillaume Tirel, known to history as Taillevent (meaning “wind carver,” evidently a reference to Tirel’s rather prominent Gallic nose). By royal command, Taillevent wrote the founding text of French cuisine, Le Viandier, in 1379. For what it’s worth, Tirel is also the supposed inventor of sausage.
Vrinat served a different French provincial menu each day at Taillevent, and by 1948 the restaurant had earned its first Michelin star. In 1950, Vrinat relocated to the splendid former hôtel particulier (town house) of the Duc de Morny, just around the corner from the Arc de Triomphe. A second Michelin star appeared on Taillevent’s horizon in 1956.
In 1962, Vrinat’s son Jean-Claude, a passionate wine connoisseur, joined his father in the business. Under Jean-Claude’s direction, Taillevent became a meeting place for the world’s most demanding gastronomes. Aristotle Onassis and Maria Callas were regulars. Salvador Dali liked to order off the menu (he once had a peacock cooked in its own feathers). Perhaps partially in recognition of the younger Vrinat’s grace and aplomb under such international pressure, Michelin awarded Taillevent its third star in 1973.
Today, his passion for wine and cuisine unabated, Jean-Claude Vrinat is still at the helm of this culinary bastion. Seeking the best bottles for his clients, he opened one of Paris’ best wine shops, Les Caves Taillevent, in 1987. And, as if helming two businesses weren’t enough, several years ago — just to keep himself on the cutting edge — Vrinat decided to take a whole new angle. In April 2001, the smart, younger sibling to Taillevent, L’Angle du Faubourg, opened. As opposed to Taillevent’s boiserie-clad luxe, the new restaurant is a study in understated modernism, with clean, simple lines and warm hues.
Domaine L’Aiguelière Coteaux du Languedoc Montpeyroux Côte Dorée 2000 ($42)
This intense, 100 percent Syrah is a favorite at L’Angle du Faubourg.
The wine list at L’Angle du Faubourg not only incorporates choice French selections, but handpicked bottles from South Africa to Santa Cruz. Here are a few bottles that help prove Vrinat’s point that wines don’t have to be famous to be good.
Babich Wines Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2002 ($12)
Rich gooseberry fruit and crisp acidity, from a family-owned New Zealand winery.
Carina Cellars Viognier Santa Barbara 2001 ($16)
A small-quantity producer making excellent Rhone-style wines; fresh, racy flavors of peach and a long finish.
Handley Cellars Pinot Gris Anderson Valley 2002 ($25)
Tangy acidity and bright, green-apple fruit in a lovely Pinot Gris from Mendocino.
Palandri Shiraz Western Australia 2001 ($16)
Lush blackberry and cherry fruit with explosive, juicy flavors; a new Aussie winery in the up-and-coming Margaret River area.
DeRose Vineyards Negrette Miller Family Vineyard Cienega Valley 2000 ($15)
One of the few California producers of Negrette, a rare varietal originally from the Toulouse region; big, ripe fruit and smooth texture.
Roshambo Winery Syrah Dry Creek Valley 2000 ($18)
Brisk with Rhone flavors of berry fruit, spice, oak, and pepper notes.
Valpiculata Tinta de Toro 2000 ($27)
The Tempranillo vines may be a century old, but this new Spanish red is modern in style: racy, meaty, rich.
Madrigal Wines Merlot Napa 2000 ($28)
Lush and spicy, excellent depth of flavor, and great complexity.
Miner Family Vineyards Chardonnay Napa Valley 2000 ($30)
Dark and thick Chard with toasty oak flavors and a pure core of acidity.