With the launch of Café Pouchkine, on Paris’ Place de la Madeleine, the French need not worry if the winter is severe, for restaurateur Andrei Dellos’ Chekhovian-style dacha-cum-restaurant, bar and tearoom is a warming escape brimming with comforting hot chocolate, champagne, caviar and sublime pâtisserie.
Dellos’ Moscow restaurant of the same name, which he opened in 1999, celebrated the bicentenary of poet, novelist and playwright Alexandre Pushkin with its 18th- and 19th-century salon-style decor. Here in Paris, three floors of salon rooms take the style further, mixing Dellos’ designs with furniture and antiques sourced in boutiques, auction houses, shops and flea markets – each with a story to tell.
The decor may be from centuries past, but the kitchens – where Chef Patrick Pailler works in tandem with 2017 pâtissier of the year Nina Métayer – are state of the art. “Our repertoire is a Franco-Russian dialogue celebrating fresh seasonal products,” says Métayer.
An all-day menu begins with breakfasts of hot chocolate Pouchkine (€6), warm blackberry bostock (€3.50), scrambled eggs with caviar (€43), eggs Bénedicte with smoked salmon and two types of caviar (from €73-€430). Lunch and dinner dishes sent out by chef Yohann Paran – who learned the techniques of the perfect beef stroganoff at Dellos’ Moscow café – include sturgeon in caviar d’Aquitaine (€16), classic borscht (€12-€16), crayfish and cèpes tart (€25), blini club sandwiches of sarrasin and salmon (€15) and the Ivan the Terrible burger (€21). But it’s the dizzying collection of desserts and ice creams that are really worth crossing town for: red berry or chestnut pavlova (from €8.70) and a shiny, three-texture triple-chocolate confection, the César (€8.70) – perfect with a flute of Duval Leroy Cuvée Femme 2000 (€30 for a glass or €175 bottle).
The epicerie-cum-deli Russe is filled with everything needed to stock up the festive pantry, from Nina Métayer’s made-to-order chocolate, mandarin, mango, spice and pecan matryoshka doll (€8.40 for a slice or €78 for an entire cake) and the signature koulitch or panettone (€22), to smoked salmon, house-made taramasalata, caviar and an extensive selection of vodkas.