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Sunday, June 26, 2016

Jean Chauvel's Restaurant 3B - On the Rise in Billancourt

Is it a brasserie? A neobistrot?  A cozy bar and lounge for a relaxing drink and aperatif?  Oui, oui, and oui. Jean and Nelly Chauvel's new establishment in the heart of Boulogne Billancourt is finally here, after a two-year hiatus following the sale of their Michelin-starred Les Magnolias in the Paris suburbs.  I'm not sure the name is the best choice, but it is quasi-efficient in a functional sense, highlighting the location (Boulogne Billancourt) and the more welcoming, low-key Brasserie aspect... not necessarily in that order.  The name misses the lounge and neobistrot pieces of a grander Gestalt, but perhaps you get the idea when you recognize that Jean Chauvel is the driving force of the enterprise.

The elegant new address boasts an accessible brasserie that is open all day long, Mon. - Sat., offering breakfast, lunch, or dinner highlighted by a lunch menu of 26€ (2 plates) or 34€ ( 3 plates).  Things get serious in the evening in the back room, offering high cuisine a la Les Magnolias.  There you have two options: a menu confiance priced at 76€ and a more formidable menu degustation at 98€.  Take the latter if you haven't eaten for a couple days; Co. and I found the lower-priced alternative to be more than ample, especially in light of M. Chauvel's penchant for bringing out surprises along the way.  In fact, it is all surprises for dinner - unlike the brasserie, which does actually boast a descriptive carte, the most you are told regarding the high-class dinners is 'you'll find out.' If you don't like surprises, stick to the brasserie.

I had a sneak preview of 3B back in March after accepting an invite to attend a pre-opening open house.  The Chauvel's have a lot of friends and the warm atmosphere sensed then has apparently carried over to the new restaurant.  It's the early days for the back room, but Co. and I were eager to try.

from the March open house
You don't find this much space in your typical Paris restaurant.  In the elegant back room, it's nice to know that you can have an intimate meal without revealing your secrets to the diners sitting at the next table.  Nelly Chauvel is present throughout, amiably overseeing the operation.  The wine list offers a number of reasonably-priced alternatives and thankfully is pared down from the monumental and overwhelming tome one was handed at Les Magnolias.  I don't know how much of the cave stayed at Les Magnolias when the Chauvels parted, but the current cave certainly is not lacking.  We opted for the 45€ Chateau Moulin Cantelaude 2009. 


And check out the size of  the kitchen - I want one like that.

The 3B kitchen

As for dinner, the menu confiance included some Les Magnolias souveniers along with some new inventive twists:

mise en bouche1

mise en bouche 2 - cucumbers

The homard entree - without question, a highlight

One of those surprises I was talking about - to accompany the homard, an amazing plate of Asian noodles covering some caille eggs, along with a sweet potato to drink

If you're familiar with Les Magnolias, this is probably a favorite - M. Chauvel's famous ham and cheese sandwich in a glass

For the main plate you choose - fish or meat.  This is meat (beef)

And this would be the fish - St. Pierre, along with anisette-flavored asparagus

A couple familiar accompaniments for the plate - the mustard macaroon and mashed potatoes - two more favorite carry-overs from Les Magnolias

A nice little cheese interlude leading up to dessert

Dessert, part 1

Dessert, part 2, and yes, that is mint-flavored cotton candy

A closer look at dessert, part 2

Overall, a great meal.  It would have been nice to see fewer Les Magnolias favorites - even though they are favorites - and some new novelties, especially for the main plates, which were more conservative offerings than I have come to expect from a Jean Chauvel kitchen.  It's early and it will be interesting to see how the restaurant evolves over the next year.  Unfortunately, I can't comment on the brasserie, though a friend who works in the bustling neighborhood mentioned that the place is plenty busy at lunch time.  Whichever option you choose, other than the bar and lounge - you should be attentive to the 3Rs - reserve, reserve, reserve.  It's going to get tough once word gets around.

Restaurant Jean Chauvel  
3B Brasserie Boulogne Billancourt
33 ave du General Leclerc
92100 Boulogne Billancourt

tel: 01 55 60 79 95
website: http://www.jeanchauvel.fr/#first

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