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One late afternoon at Saint Germain, we chanced upon this restaurant like a dream comes true. The Ralph Lauren Restaurant – an all-American sanctuary in a classical Parisian home. It’s a very intimate space hidden in the courtyard of Ralph Lauren’s Left Bank shop.
We walked through a short grand passage and came to a petite French receptionist, who appeared rather calm despite the endless incoming calls. Everyone wants a piece of Ralph’s and she was definitely very well trained to handle that.
Imagine big umbrellas, white tablecloths, wrought-iron chairs and linen cushions amidst lush plants and fresh flowers. The upscale Hamptons style.
Dressy diners lounged around like they own the place, clinking glasses and tossing the lettuce leaves on their plates. A woman in her fifties wore a crisp tailored white shirt, dark jeans and a brass-buckle belt, while her younger companion looked so effortlessly suave in cotton-blend windbreaker and matching cream shorts. Straightforward, simple and immaculately casual – the influence of Ralph Lauren perforated every inch of their style.
We were led to a table at the corner of the restaurant which was perfect for people-watching. We ordered our drinks and quickly sank into the pile of soft pillows.
This place used to be an old Parisian family home and Ralph Lauren had it carefully and painfully restored to house his business. And indeed, when we stepped into his shop, it felt like we were given special permission to visit a private home. The four-storey limestone building is a space filled with glamorous designs and furniture. It is also pleasantly scented with quality garments hung neatly on the racks. The cerulean blue vases, fancy flowers, framed paintings and memorable pictures on the wall all came together perfectly and added a luxurious yet personal touch to the room.
Unlike his café in Chicago, the restaurant in St Germain retains a strong sense of French heritage to reflect Ralph’s long-established attachment to France.
Many years ago Ralph Lauren was awarded Chevalier de la Legion d’honneur by President Nicolas Sarkozy. He told the press that the first time he stepped foot in Paris was more than 30 years ago and he was only a poor man with big dreams. 30 years later he’s at the Elysée Palace to receive one of France’s most prestigious distinctions.
Film stills from the website of Ralph’s.
A cliched but true success story – he is the American in Paris.
We only had a few drinks and the waiter was kind enough to bring us this monster of caramelised popcorn with generous dots of raw peanuts.
A peek into the menu revealed a list of quintessential American comfort fare – burger, steak, club sandwich and cobb salad.
Safe to say, the influence of the Ralph Lauren empire has not only reached the F&B industry, it has reached far and deep. Even the hard-to-please Parisians adore it.
How could you say no to this?
With love x