This Is The Healthiest Fine Dining Restaurant In Paris

Amber Gibson

In 2019, L'Orangerie, the smallest of the three Michelin-starred restaurants at Four Seasons Hotel George V, Paris launched a colorful new menu focused on vegetables and seafood. The ethereal food here is an entirely new direction for Parisian fine dining, a detox from traditional French haute cuisine and its heavy sauces and game meats.

“I was very keen on bringing a new culinary expression to L’Orangerie, shifting the way that cooking is perceived by offering dishes with a nod to the future,” chef Alan Taudon explains. “Balanced and feminine, my cuisine has fish and greens at its heart.”

Taudon nails every detail, including a sprinkle of sweet, rehydrated goji berries to garnish a plate of dill ravioli served with an earthy, forest green herb sauce. I sop up the extra sauce with buckwheat brioche and sea salt milk bread. The bread here is just as good as the selection at Le Cinq next door (pastry chef Maxime Frédéric works across all restaurants) but served without butter. I'm sure they would happily oblige if I asked for butter, but the parmesan seeded cracker is so tasty on its own that it needs no accompaniment.

Frédéric's signature dessert, a delicate meringue flower, is as ethereal as fairy food. Fifty individual meringue petals are tweezered in an impeccable spiral over a dome of creamy raspberries perfumed with peppermint. This kind of labor-intensive precision is only possible in a restaurant of this size – seven tables and 20 seats overlooking Four Seasons' iconic courtyard. With natural light streaming in and the blossoming array of flowers outside, the ambiance at L'Orangerie is like dining in a secret garden in the heart of Paris.

Perhaps the most memorable dish of all though, is slow-roasted mango with olives and black truffle in a crisp milk crust. Carved and plated tableside, this remarkable balance of sweet and savory is unlike anything I've ever tasted. It reminds me a touch of Noma's vegetarian shawarma served during the summer vegetable menu, consisting of celeriac and black truffle. Taudon's inspiration for this inventive dish was a streetside barbecue in Argentina.

“I went on a trip in South-America with my wife and one day we were walking on the side of the road and we saw a group of people having a barbecue, which they call asado,” Taudon recalls. “In the midst of the embers, they put some mango in foil liner. When we came back to France, I wanted to try this cooking method. I imagined working the product just like a potato, which led us to two months of testing and research to finally find a proper way of cooking those. In fact, we actually need a green mango long before it is ripe, in order to keep a perfect texture and also the perfect taste. I managed to find a monochrome garnish to go with it, composed of black olives, cocoa and truffle. The slow-roasted mango is one of my favorite dishes on the menu, first because of the surprise effect that it gives to our guests but also because of the great memory that I have while I’m preparing it.”

Superfoods are incorporated effortlessly throughout the menu, from the turmeric pizza puff and sardine and seaweed cracker amuse bouche to a seemingly simple avocado and charred cabbage dish, brightened with heat from Réunion Island chilies.

Pre-dessert is simple but pure – strawberries and cherries at the peak of ripeness hanging from a bonsai tree. There's a rich chocolate dessert too, but made with the best single-origin Peruvian dark chocolate from Valrhona. Even the drink list has a thoughtful approach to health, with a half dozen non-alcoholic cocktails made with shrubs, Seedlip non-alcoholic spirits, infused teas and fresh-pressed juices, often using the same ingredients you'll find in Taudon and Frédéric's dishes. For example, one Viva la Vida cocktail is made with cucumber, black rice and rhubarb to resonate with the menu.

Vegetarian fine dining certainly isn't new to Paris – vegetables have been the centerpiece for chef Alain Passard at his three-star Michelin restaurant L'Arpege since 2001 and Passard uses vegetables from his own garden extensively in his menu. However, L'Orangerie has a style all its own. There's fish and cheese on the menu and they're given equal opportunity to shine, but there's a lightness and effervescence to all of Taudon's food that's apparent in the way he layers his sauces and constructs each plate.

“The type of cuisine that we offer at L’Orangerie is making a real difference in Paris,” Taudon says. “Even though a lot of restaurants have decided to follow the sustainability pathway, we promote true healthy minded dishes with a sustainable future for our products.”

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Amber Gibson specializes in luxury travel, food, wine and wellness. Her work has appeared in Travel + Leisure, Conde Nast Traveler, National Geographic Traveler, Robb Report, Departures, Hemispheres, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Fodor's, NPR, NBC and more. Champagne, dark chocolate and gelato are her biggest weaknesses.

Los Angeles, CA

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