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Breton-born Alain Passard, one of the most respected chefs in Paris, famously shocked the French culinary world by declaring that he was bored with meat. Though his vegetarianism is more theoretical than practical—L'Arpège still caters to fish and poultry eaters—he does cultivate his own vegetables outside Paris, which are then zipped into the city by high-speed train. His dishes elevate the humblest vegetables to sublime heights: salt-roasted beets with aged balsamic vinegar, leeks with black truffles, black radishes, and cardon, a kind of thistle related to the artichoke, with parmigiano-reggiano. Seafood dishes such as turbot cooked at a low temperature for three hours or lobster braised in vin jaune from the Jura are also extraordinary—as are the prices. A €130 lunch menu, while still pricey, gives access to this revered cuisine. The understated decor places the emphasis firmly on the food, but try to avoid the gloomy cellar room.
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