It’s no big news anymore when a fashion designer decides to open a restaurant. Roberto Cavalli did it, so has Giorgio Armani and Versace. Ralph Lauren’s hip Parisian restaurant Ralph’s thus comes as no surprise. Much like the theme behind the legendary 1950s musical An American in Paris, Ralph’s has positioned itself within the exuberant echelons of the not-easy-to-impress French culinary landscape. Open since 2010, this elegant American bistro has stationed itself within the brand’s flagship store in Saint-Germain-des-Prés and succeeds at charming both expat and Parisian diners with gourmet American fare.
I was in town for Paris Fashion Week and Ralph’s seemed to be the appropriate dining option for the occasion. Situated within an old Parisian building which one must enter from a small walkway just off of Saint-Germain, Ralph’s boasts a cozy New England ambiance of dark wood paneling, plus animal-print pillows and leather saddles adorning the walls coupled with modern artwork depicting representations of hunting scenes. The feeling one has is that they’ve just retreated from a day out in the forest into an elegant and regal hunting lodge for refuge and a good meal. A cozy country house in the Hamptons might be a good comparison to the ambiance of Ralph’s.
As charming as the interior decor of the restaurant is, it is the outdoor patio which is the jewel of this unique eatery. Given the cold weather my guest and I could only imagine what it must be like come Spring time when diners can comfortably sit outside and enjoy a glass of wine with gourmet American fare. We nevertheless enjoyed our table inside snug next to a window and other reveling diners. We were served one of the location’s best aperitifs: Alexander Sour. Made with gin, lemon juice, cucumber and sugar syrup, the drink was at once sweet and slightly sour – a quick pick up before we began our meal. It was served with some delicious and addictive fried green olives.
For our starters we opted for the Crab Cake, a delicious slab of crab seasoned with celery, onions, mushrooms, mayonnaise and herbs and served with olive oil. Moist and chewy, well-seasoned and a tad on the rich side, we both enjoyed small morsels of this tasty starter. On a more healthy note, we also ordered a House Salad which came with a variety of fresh herbs, green beans, mushrooms, sautéed garlic, bacon and grilled endives.
We were advised to order burgers – the classic American meal and what Ralph’s is known for, but given that my guest and I were both vegetarians – we opted for fish dishes which didn’t fail to impress. The Grilled Sole was served with rice pilaf and a creamy and rich sauce made with butter, lemon and soya. A succulent dish, the sole’s velvety texture and sweet buttery taste made it an easy winner of the night. We also ordered a pavé of Grilled Salmon accompanied with a fondue of endives and spinach. The salmon was cooked medium rare and retained a silky, smooth flesh and juicy inside.
Venturing on to the dessert, once again favorite American sweets graced the line of mouth-watering specialties. We chose a cheesecake and peanut butter mousse creation with crunchy chocolate pieces atop its creamy consistency. It’s almost impossible to find fault with what was placed before us – the cheesecake was heavenly and rich as can be and the interesting peanut butter creation seemed to be a decadent reinterpretation of chocolate mousse. These were American favorites which were to be expected as was most of the dishes on the menu. While Ralph’s boasts traditional American fare, it does so with an upgrade – each dish was spiced up a bit, somehow more elegant and refined and slightly, if we can say, French. The charming interiors were a clear cross between a New England restaurant housed in a country club and a cozy French brasserie. The venue creates a lovely marriage between the two cultures while also paying homage to the designers all-American classic creations.
Ralph’s is located on 173 Boulevard Saint-Germain in the sixth arrondissement in Paris. Tel: +33 144777600