Restaurants: The King

Before Henri Soule arrived in 1939, New York lacked a single restaurant that, by international standards, could be rated first-class. Today Manhattan boasts a dozen—two of them are his, and most of the others are owned or staffed by his proteges. When he died last week of a heart attack at 62, his Le Pavilion was still the best of them all, the undisputed exemplar of haute cuisine in the U.S. and, by the judgment of the incorruptible Guide Michelin's Pierre Lamalle, the equal of the five best restaurants of Paris—which is to say, of the world.

In a sense, Soule...

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