Balagan

Prized by Parisian gas­tronomes, the Rue Mont-Thabor, a small street par­al­lel to Saint-Honoré and two steps from the Jardin des Tuileries and the Place Vendôme, houses a for­mi­da­ble den­sity of qual­ity restau­rants. It is in this very Parisian land­scape that the three founders of the Experimental Group – Romée de Goriainoff, Pierre-Charles Cros, and Olivier Bon – chose to open a new restau­rant in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Assaf Granit and Uri Navon, two of the most famous Israeli chefs.


Emblematic fig­ures in the renewal of Israeli cui­sine, Assaf and Uri first came onto the scene with their restau­rant in Machne-Yehuda, the great Jerusalem mar­ket. Their approach is sim­ple: with pre­ci­sion, pre­pare dishes that are tasty, ener­getic, col­or­ful, and inven­tive, and that bring life back to this cos­mopoli­tan and joy­ful gas­tron­omy, born from the adap­ta­tion of every tra­di­tion brought from the dias­pora. What soon fol­lowed were: yodale, wine bar, The Culinary Workshop and Talbiye, in Jerusalem, and then the award win­ning restau­rants Palomar and the Barbary, in London. Head chef of Balagan will be Dan Yosha, a young tal­ent from Machne-Yehuda in Jerusalem.

It is on the ground floor of the Renaissance Paris-Vendôme hotel, at the cor­ner of the Rues d’Alger and du Mont-Thabor, and only a few steps from Colette and the fash­ion bou­tiques of the Rue Saint-Honoré, where they will open their first Parisian restau­rant – Balagan – a Hebrew name mean­ing Joyful Bazar.” It is a name that rings like a show and says a great deal about Assaf Granit’s will to shake up the habits of the capital’s food­ies in a décor cus­tom-​designed by Dorothée Meilichzon.

The Parisian designer was inspired by the graphic forms of the Rue de Rivoli and Tuileries (arcades, street­lights, bor­ders), a range of Mediterranean ref­er­ences (sand­stone, ceram­ics, ochre, green tapes­tries), and the wel­com­ing and emblem­atic blue of Assaf Granit’s restau­rants. Together, she imag­ined a joy­ful fan­tasy sur­round­ing the counter of a long, open kitchen. Matt col­ors, tri­an­gu­lar shapes, unfin­ished wood, cop­per and brass, the silky touch of stone, and the bril­liance of enam­eled ceramics…the rich pro­fu­sion of spaces accom­pa­nied by impres­sive ser­vice con­soles seem to announce the equally rich cui­sine being devised under the gaze of all, a lumi­nous gas­tron­omy echoed by the sun-shaped mir­rors designed by Alexandre Girard.

A col­lec­tion of play­ful Meze, Levantine Shish Barak, wood-grilled egg­plant, sautéed cala­mari, grilled veal sweet­breads, Moroccan-Israeli arti­choke ragout, fes­tive Mansaf lamb, Jerusalem-style sea bass, cous­cous, Gormeh Sabzi. At all hours of the day, res­i­dents and tourists come with delight to immerse them­selves in this invit­ing bazar of fla­vors orig­i­nat­ing from the amaz­ing culi­nary rich­ness of the Middle East.

There is no doubt that the cos­mopoli­tan Epicureans will take up res­i­dence in this new Eldorado, con­ceived for the plea­sure of the senses, spilling even into the bar – an adjoin­ing boudoir with sur­pris­ing English accents – where the menu offers unprece­dented cre­ations such as the Algue Colada (Paratti cachaça infused with wakama and green corian­der seeds, coconut, and lime and pineap­ple juice) or the Tomu (pisco infused with pink berries, yel­low char­treuse, Saint Germain liqueur, pressed lime juice, Ginger Ale, and car­damom bit­ters), a reminder that the Experimental Group’s bar­tenders are among the great­est mas­ters of the Parisian cock­tail.