Soule planned to open a restaurant
in Manhattan that would continue to present the same quality
of French haute cuisine that was available at the restaurant
at the French Pavilion. An empty restaurant space was found on
East 55th Street, near Fifth Avenue, across the street from the
St. Regis Hotel. Soule obtained financing from Drouant and others,
signed a lease, and named his new restaurant Le Pavillon. Le
Pavillon was to be a purely French restaurant, serving haute
cuisine just as it was served in the best restaurants in France.
There were no shortcuts and no concessions to American expectations.
Le Pavillon opened on October
15, 1941 with a gala party for the most influential people in
New York. The names on the invitation list included Cabot, Kennedy,
Vanderbilt, and Rockefeller. The menu that night consisted of
caviar, sole bonne femme, poulet braise au champagne, cheese,
and strawberries and cream for desert. The publicity generated
by this event fed the public's interest and soon Le Pavillon
was serving capacity crowds almost every night. The food was
classic, the service was impeccable, and the patrons were appreciative.
Le Pavillon became the premier
French restaurant in New York almost immediately. The wealthy,
the merely rich, and the famous were welcomed by Henri Soule
himself, acting as maitre d'hotel and host. Those who did not
fit into the jet-set crowd, including average citizens and those
whom Soule disliked, were either dissuaded from dining at Le
Pavillon or were relegated to the back room where they were isolated.
For some reason, Soule disliked his landlord, Harry Cohn, and
always gave Cohn the worst tables. Cohn insisted that his position
as Le Pavillon's landlord entitled him to the best tables, and
the ensuing argument went on for years. Both men were stubborn,
and when Cohn tripled the rent in 1957, Soule moved Le Pavillon
several blocks away to 57th and Park Avenue. After Cohn died,
Soule reclaimed his former space, opening a second restaurant
called La Cote Basque. Both restaurants continued to serve flawless
Sadly, Henri Soule died in
1966. Le Pavillon survived until 1971, when it closed for good.
La Cote Basque still exists, keeping alive the spirit of the
old Le Pavillon and the 1939-1940 World's Fair.