Duck No 1108912
So, I’ve got this overcoat, Heidi thinks its paedophilic but I’m leaning more towards Inspector Gadget. I don’t know where I got it but I suspect it was in Melbourne in the early 90’s when Milli Vanilli were still deemed to be authentic and I wore suits. I haven’t worn it for years but as we packed for our April Paris jaunt this year I noticed that it was cold as a witch’s tit in the city of light and if I was going to wear a suit to some of its swankier restaurants I may require an extra layer.
As we entered the lower level of La Tour d’Argent I had to draw on every last fibre of decorum within my warped being not to say that I had a reservation under Gadget, but decorum prevailed. God however punished me throughout our delicious luncheon as the song from Inspector Gadget looped incessantly through my subconscious..duh duh duh duh duh, inspector gadget, duh duh duh duh duh oo oo!
La Tour d’Argent has a remarkable wine list. You would have to arrive several hours before service to wade through it properly but I happened upon a couple of relative bargains quite quickly which turned out to be sublime. Our white selection of a 1985 Comte Lafon Meursault-Perrieres 1er Cru was presented at the table as the 95, which I quickly shooed away. The correct vintage arrived and the wine was brilliant. It slowly built in the glass, throwing off some mushroom scents with a little honey at first. It was complex yet restrained with notes of hazelnut and almond. In the mouth it had near perfect shape, with a fruit sweet heart and typical ‘Perrieres’ minerally precision. It was so focussed with every flavour clean and bright and superb length of flavour driven along by grapefruit acidity.
Some nibbles were extremely tasty but I was more absorbed in the swapping of the 95 for the 85 so I can’t go into much detail but I can tell you that an amuse of fresh peas with pesto, mint and spring onion and a parmesan chip was fresh, energetic and opened the gastric juice floodgates for what was to follow.
My entrée of pike quenelles were classic, rich and hearty. The fluffy quenelles of loveliness sat upon flavoursome champignons de Paris and the whole dish was triumphant with the aged Meursault. Heidi’s asparagus with truffle sauce was, well, kind of ‘apsparagussy’ but not very ‘truffley’, I guess when truffle is out of season you can’t get on your ‘haut cheval’ and decry a lack of truffle flavour but….
The famous dish here is pressed duck and we shared number 1 108 912 (you get a postcard letting you know what number duck you have had since the restaurants inception). A perfectly roasted whole bird is presented to you by the man in charge of ducks (he has his own very posh area) and then is taken off to have breast and legs stripped whilst the bones are pressed to provide some jus for the sauce upon which the breast meat is presented. The duck breast was moist, and rich with a velvety texture, just perfect to be matched with an aged ‘Amoureuses’. Lucky I had spied and ordered such a beast and in our red glass sat the 1979 Clair-Dau Chambolle-Musigny ‘Les Amoureuses’ 1er Cru. A beast it was not, titillating with its elegant, perfumed and savoury nuance. There were notes of sous bois, freshly tiled earth, pine needle sap and juniper. It was fine and lacy in the mouth, developed but lively and fresh with a rigid mineral spine. The second part of the duck was its leg, served with a hollandaise sauce infused with a little grainy mustard, very tasty.
Cheese offering here is good with a relatively compact selection that had been perfectly ‘affinaged’. Comte was rich and nutty, Reblochon mild yet imposing and great with both colours of Burgundy and a wedge of Livarot that filled the room with sweaty socks and tasted of luscious cream and nuts.
We skipped dessert, had an outrageously expensive coffee (10 euros with two small chocolates).
The view is incredible here as you sit over the Seine, absorbing some of the great Parisian landmarks. Service is silver, you’ll feel more at home if you are dressed up, it is expensive but the wine selection is brilliant and there are still some bargains. I reckon you have to take on La Tour d’Argent first and foremost as a wine lover. What is a fair price to have a bottle or two of perfectly aged wine? Keep that number in your head, add the food costs on top and you are probably still under the number in your head…you’ll have a good experience if you approach it this way.
Thank you for such a wonderful descriptive post. I feel absolutely ancient. Went there in 1979 and our number for the Caneton Tour d'Argent was 561040. I love the whole tableside service, the ceremonial presentation of the semi-roasted duck, the pressing, the legs sent back for further roasting and served as a separate course. Just curious, did the captain steered you into ordering the quenelles and asparagus with truffles? I remembered our captain suggested what we should ordered for our entrees: the quenelles and scrambled eggs with truffles.