At La Halle aux Grains, the first Paris restaurant for father-son chef duo Michel and Sébastien Bras of Le Suquet fame in southwest France, grains, cereals, legumes and seeds are the common denominator in every dish.
It’s an unexpected concept for a fine dining restaurant. But at the Bourse de la Commerce art gallery, which opened last spring to much fanfare in Paris and the international art world, the menu is in perfect alignment with the building’s historic heritage.
Before it was restored and converted into an exhibition space for French billionaire François Pinault’s modern art collection, the 18th century rotunda building had served as the city’s storehouse for grains. (François is head of the Kering group which owns luxury brands like Gucci, Saint Laurent, Bottega Veneta and Balenciaga.)
In order to pay tribute to the site’s past, the chefs threw themselves into the untapped potential of cereals, legumes, pulses and seeds, planting, grilling, puffing, infusing and fermenting more than 50 varieties to write the new restaurant menu.
“What we liked about this project was the singular history of the building and the chance to continue the story of this unique place, ” the younger Bras told Robb Report.
While the gallery’s high profile opening shook up the contemporary art scene in Paris, the arrival of the Bras family’s first restaurant in the city likewise generated no small amount of buzz.
In recent years, collaborations between cultural destinations in Paris, both new and old, and star-powered chefs and restaurateurs have become increasingly common. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship: Trendy dining destinations have potential for bringing more traffic to museums, while on-site restaurants offer gastronomic respite for tired, thirsty and hungry museum goers.
“Museum restaurants today add a lot of value because they can offer a unique identity,” Bras adds.
Along with the Bourse de la Commerce, the Hôtel de la Marine—which houses royal furnishings and opened last spring—has also been drawing crowds to the hotly anticipated on-site restaurants.
And the collaborations don’t stop there. Here’s a look at some of the recently opened museum restaurants in Paris that go beyond simple concession stands that sell overpriced sandwiches, and are dining destinations in and of themselves.