Sunday, May 6, 2007

Paris: La Tour D'Argent

Next up on the eating tour was our first dinner in Paris at La Tour D'Argent which traces its origins back to 1582 and where the canard (duck) is its specialty. Since the late 1800s, every duck served has borne a number with the first being served to Edward VII in 1890 and the millionth duck served in 2003. Although its reputation as being the best restaurant in Paris (it has the longest holding record of 51 years for a three star Michelin rating until falling to one star in 2006) has long been overshadowed by the emergence of more modern restaurants like Pierre Gagnaire offering haute cuisine, it is indeed a national institution and when you enter its doors, it is almost like stepping back in time. On the walls are signed cards and photos of JFK, the Emperor of Japan, and various other heads of state. I was advised to request a table with a view, which was wonderful advice; once we were escorted up to the dining room in the elevator, we were seated at our table overlooking the Seine River and Notre Dame which offered breathtaking views of Paris in the evening.

As for the food, the amuse-bouches got me excited as they were absolutely delicious. Because I can't think of duck being prepared any better than a Peking Duck in Chinatown, we forewent the duck and tried the sole and the beef filet (pictured) with artichoke and onions. The fish wasn't anything spectacular; the beef was well prepared and fairly decent. I had forgotten the advice I was given to order the chocolate souffle there and instead ordered the Belle Epoque crepes and the profiteroles. The former was laden with a heavy dose of orange liqueor which was not to my liking, but the latter was spectacular. Instead of being filled with ice cream, the puffs were filled with custard, drenched in chocolate sauce and served with ice cream on the side.

In hindsight, I probably should have tried the duck. Our neighboring tables had ordered the duck and when they were wheeled out, they looked remarkable, and judging by the empty plates on our fellow diners' tables, I can only surmise that they were quite delicious as well.

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