La Tour d’Argent

It is one of the oldest restaurants in Paris, founded in 1582 to be exact and was frequented by King Henri IV who liked to taste the game meat served here during winter time. La Tour d’Argent, though, has had a rocky past with the loss of a Michelin star and the death of the legendary owner of 60 years, Claude Terrail. In 1996, the Guide Michelin reduced the restaurant’s grade from three stars to two, and in 2006, to one. However, this is not a mirror to the quality and service of the restaurant. And now, times have changed and with Claude’s son André Terrail (27 years) at the helm and Chef Laurent Delarbre (a past commis of the restaurant and M.O.F 2004) in the kitchen, both bring back the splendor you would expect at La Tour d’Argent. 

Entrance

The success and fame of La Tour d’Argent spread under owner Frédéric Delair, who in the 1890s started the practice of issuing certificates to diners who ordered caneton (pressed duckling). The birds are numbered: The first was served to Edward VII in 1890, and now the number has surpassed 1.2 million.Please view my own number below. As you can expect from such a famous restaurant, the menu is pricey. But instead of splashing out on dinner, the 3-course lunch menu for a reduced price of €65 entitles you to taste not only the restaurant’s classics but the French classics as well. 

As you enter the restaurant that lies in front of the Seine river, you’re immediately transported back in time. You enter in a world of aristocracy as it was centuries before. The main exhibit on the ground floor is a table laid out (and protected) as it was in 1867 at Café Anglais when Tsar Alexander II and the King of Prussia dined together. 

Mme de Sévigné refers to a cafe here in her letters, and famous author Alexandre Dumas used it in one of his novels. Other leading figured of Paris have frequented the restaurant: international politicians, visiting nobility, film stars, sports stars and the likes.  

Inside the gastronomic room, glass cabinets are filled with memorabilia, letters from the great and the good and walls of photographs.

You are then led to an elevator where a gentleman inside brings you up to the 6th floor. I felt like a queen as a sea of tailcoated waiters parted in front of me. 

The vast wine list showcasing vintage wines from every region of France. The extraordinary wine cellar below (holding about 400,000 bottles) keep them cool (and has been doing so for hundreds of years – even surviving World War II). 

Panoramic view of Cite Island and Notre Dame – every table has its own private viewing.

Every table adorned with a crystal duck.

On the lunch menu:

Bread and butter (doux and demi-sel)

With the Apéritif:

Moelleux d’olives vertes et creme de chevre frais

Caviar d’aubergines, creme de persil, crouton a l’encre de seiche


Amuse-Bouche: Queue de boeuf, sauce tomate, persil

Entrée:

Ballotine de Canard et fois gras a la truffe d’été – Ballotine of duckling and foie gras with summer truffles

Quenelle de Brochet “André Terrail” – Poached pike mousse, mushroom purée in a mornay sauce

Plats:

Travers de “Monsieur” au gingembre, pomme purée – Ribs flavored with ginger, pomme purée. Melt in your mouth ribs with a dangerously addictive sweet jus. 

Showing the entire piece of meat before slicing and serving it. Here it’s old-school style. 

Canette de Vendée aux abricots– Roasted duckling with apricots. The duck is in slices and and covered in a jus containing the blood and juices from the crushed duckling. Crispy skin with a tender interior.

One of the restaurant’s specialty, it raises its own ducks in a farm. Every diner who feasts on a duck receives a postcard with the bird’s unique serial number. Here’s mine: 

Desserts:

Glaces et sorbet aux parfums de saison – Ice-cream and sorbet of the season

Allumette chocolat-framboises, parfum gingembre – Chocolate and raspberries matchstick with fresh ginger

Some more chocolate on the go: milk and with pralines.

Alongside the cheque, the waiters bring you silver bowls to wash your hands before you leave. 

Want to be swept away to a restaurant frozen in time (18th century to be exact)? La Tour d’Argent will make you feel like a King as waiters walk quietly and smoothly around you; a legendary institution that will hopefully remain as one of the relics of Paris and classic French cuisine that has now evolved. 

La Tour d’Argent

15-17 Quai de la Tournelle, 75005

Metro: Cardinal Lemoine (Ligne 10)

Tel: 01 43 54 23 31

Website: http://www.latourdargent.com

Closed: Sunday, Monday

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