Restaurant review: L’Arpège, Paris

photo: Ngoc Minh Thu Le

The house of faith for vegetables.

Probably the most divisive restaurant, L’Arpège is a place where you’d either love or hate, no in-between. As a loyal fan of the popular series Chef’s Table I came across chef Alain Passard’s 3 Michelin-star restaurant for the first time. His passion for cooking could be easily noticed in the episode, which showed how he began gaining recognition with meat dishes and afterwards found his calling with vegetables. The restaurant and the chef received a lot of praises for creating a revolution on fine-vegetable-dining, and it is always fully-booked, even though the prices are very (very!) steep.

I managed to score a reservation for my best friend’s birthday. She’s a vegetarian and a foodie, so I knew chef Alain Passard’s restaurant would be the perfect gift. And perfect it was. The 15-course Vegetable tasting menu may not be considered affordable, but it is worth the splurge. Here is the meal in pictures:

Near the end of the meal, the chef came to thank us personally for travelling to enjoy his meal and wished my friend a happy birthday. He seemed to have a cheerful and humble personality, and age does him well. Going from 3 Michelin-star mouth-watering meats to happy greens was surely the best decision chef Passard has ever made. When asked what the transformation meant for him and his restaurant, he smiled at us and replied in one simple word: “Tout!” (meaning “Everything”).

Me and my friend with chef Alain Passard (photo: Ngoc Minh Thu Le)

Some practical information to help you navigate L’Arpège:

  • In 2001 Alain Passard closed the doors of L’Arpège, his grand and successful restaurant in Paris, and disappeared for a year. When he reopened it, he announced that he would only cook with vegetables.
  • Passard is now almost 60 years old and unlike many other French chefs of his status, he still cooks in the kitchen every day.
  • When he first decided to shift to vegetables, Passard abstained from all meat and fish, but he has since rescinded such fundamentalism.
  • Chef Passard never writes down a recipe, each day is a new inspiration, a new menu. Dishes are all improvised based on the chef’s daily preferences on the ingredients.


Address: 84 Rue de Varenne, 75007
Nearest transport: Varenne (13)
Hours: Open Monday-Friday for lunch & dinner. Closed Saturday & Sunday.
Reservations: Book many weeks in advance
Telephone: +33 1 45 51 47 33
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Words: Ngoc Minh Thu Le | Subbing: Debora Kirilova

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