Want a centrally located restaurant in Paris with a strong culinary reputation close to the city’s main attractions? Look no further than Citrus Etoile.
Situated on Avenue des Champs-Élysées, this fine-dining establishment lies almost in the shadow of the Arc de Triomphe, within easy walking distance of museums and brand-name stores along the famed wide boulevard.
Owner Gilles Epié holds the record of being the youngest chef to receive a Michelin star at the tender age of 22. Having lived in Japan, and the US, running l’Orangerie in Los Angeles, he then returned to his native Paris with his American wife, former model, Elizabeth, to create this trendy ‘Califorina-style’ dining establishment. He also runs Frenchy’s Bistro at Charles DeGaulle Airport and was a guest chef earlier this year at the New York Dining Club.
Having enjoyed pre-dinner a special exhibition on the history of culinary art at the Musée Dapper, I was even more curious to witness Epié’s innovative interpretations.
Citrus Etoile, opened 10 years ago for lunch and dinner and seating 60 people, extending to 80 for groups, reflects a chic, contemporary ambiance with Hermes orange upholstery and fresh flowers. Interior decor is light, with a pale gray batique design on the walls. Opaque window blinds grant semi-privacy while still providing a street view.
Crisp white linens cover the tables with a candle atop each and ceiling spotlights, with a sea-urchin-like decoration around each, providing added illumination. The presence of a fishbowl on each table with a live goldfish inside is a surprising touch of creativity.
Epié’s approach is to take classic French dishes, deconstruct them and serve them up with their signature flavors intact but less heavy, with reduced fat. He is also very much aware of trends sweeping through European cuisine, particularly the ample use of carpaccio-style dishes, examples being langoustine carpaccio with lychees vinaigrette, lemon jus and yuzu peel and carpaccio of coquilles St-Jacques nestling in its shell with a light dressing of soya, caviar and cucumber. The duck foie gras tempura in a beignet, caramelized with a touch of Porto sauce that followed was a gem of a dish, its umami flavors bursting forth in all their complexity after the crusty surface was broken.
Epié’s version of choucroute (sour cabbage), served with a barbecued octopus and black truffles, was also a delight.
As for dessert, the Air du Temps soufflé was best described poetically by my dining companion – as ‘a memory of chocolate clouds on my tongue.”
Service is commendable at Citrus Etoile with a warm personal welcome from Elizabeth followed by impeccable attention from restaurant manager, David Mouriau, and his young, friendly team.
For an elegant dining experience in the heart of the City of Lights with dishes that combine the classic with innovative twists, Citrus Etoile is indeed a well-considered choice.