THE trend of three-star chefs’ opening casual restaurants has spread from the United States – where the process is now taken for granted – to France, where until recently the tenet that a great chef must remain in his restaurant has held sway. No one exemplifies this better than Alain Ducasse, the superchef who has nine Michelin stars (three stars each in Paris, Monte Carlo and New York), and what amounts to a miniempire.
Casual dining in Paris has needed something of a boost. The city is well known for restaurants where casual means cramped quarters, challenging service and predictable if sometimes wonderful food, and everyone – especially Americans, it seems – has been willing to put up with it. This new wave, however, is decidedly French but still creative, and occasionally even boasts relatively comfortable surroundings.
-Mark Bittman, The New York Times
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