Mad About Paris, Much more than a guide
If Queen Elizabeth II invited you for dinner at Buckingham Palace, the quality of the food would most probably be the least of your concerns. In a way, it’s the same with La Tour d’Argent and its splendid view of Notre-Dame. This restaurant, founded as early as 1582 and operational throughout the centuries ever since, cannot be measured just by the tastiness of a soup or how crunchy the bread is. It’s more than just another eatery.
You’ll be blown away by the panorama up there. You’ll feel like you’re flying over the silvery rooftops of “la capitale“, the view of the cathedral tucked on its island in the Seine might make you want to cry because, indeed, this is deeply touching, it is Paris, very much so, and everybody says: I love you.
Yes, it hurts that this place has not had the great chef it deserved in a long time. And it is also true that it desparately needed a complete make-over. In fact, when you enter the restaurant these days, you feel like you’re arriving in a youth hostel or something, nothing really matches, it’s a complete feng-shui-disaster. There’s a bar somewhere in the center of the dining room that could be used as a backdrop for a James Bond movie scene playing in Soviet-time Romania, the general furnishing is cheap, the table decoration close to pathetic, the colour chart reminds you of a slice of rye bread smeared with liverwurst, and still…who are YOU to judge it?
La Tour d’Argent has overcome the French revolution and the July revolution 50 years later. It survived wars, fires, even the German occupation – and kept on serving roast duck and foie gras, truffles and caviar, turbot and oysters, just like this. The menu hasn’t changed a lot. It still holds the positions mentioned above and it cares about old-fashioned names: the foie gras is prepared in the fashion of „the three emperors“ (whatever that means), the Challans duck is served in a „Marco Polo“-version (with Sichuan pepper, you know) and à la Tour d’Argent, the signature aristocratic don’t-try-this-at-home recipe.
So, what about the food? Well, we had lunch there recently and paid the 65 Euro flat-rate for three courses (80 US$). It came with a not-too-bad „pâté en croute“, the main course was a slice of pan-fried duck without any interest, and I forgot what the dessert was. The chef’s name at La Tour d’Argent is Laurent Delarbre, he obviously likes working in museums, he has served at the Ritz and Lassere before, two other Parisian dinosaurs. Delarbre has been in charge since early 2010, his cooking is not yet up to the standard that this restaurant deserves.
So it might feel wrong that the Tour d’Argent still holds one Michelin-star. I’d call it a just and wise assessment: 429 years of service are a most stunning achievement. In such a time span, there’s ups and downs, inevitably, but the hope that greatness returns cannot completely fade away, or can it? We’re waiting for the handsome prince to kiss this sleeping beauty awake again.Restaurant de La Tour d’Argent 15, quai de la Tournelle 75005 Paris Tél : +33 (0)1 43 54 23 31 firstname.lastname@example.org Pont Marie Closed on Sundays and Mondays