Everyone deserves one special meal in Paris.
And for us, that meal was at Le Violon d’Ingres.
This restaurant is the fanciest of those run by Christian Constant, the Parisian sensation who owns casual establishments, made his name at The Crillon, and indulges his luxurious side at his small Eiffel Tower neighborhood restaurant Le Violon d’Ingres.
Le Violon d’Ingres looks to be any normal, nice restaurant. It is small, with restrained décor and a kitchen whose door is constantly opened so that the flawless servers can run food back and forth to tables. It seems like a place that you might come with business colleagues.
But don’t go there with them. Go there with family or dear, dear friends who you haven’t seen for years.
The food at this restaurant is truly unreal.
Take, for example, the butter. It’s cut with a wire from a large, pale pallet, and is so creamy and soft that it can’t be formed into anything but a large, craggy mountain. It’s good enough to be what my sister calls “Dessert butter.” On the truly exemplary tangy peasant bread, it’s an ideal meal in and of itself.
Don’t forget the flammekuchen either.
These miniaturized bacon, onion, and cheese pies are not too small. They are so rich and flaky, with crispy, pork lardons and gooey, tangy cheese, that more than just a bite would be too much.
Poached eggs with truffles
Are you surprised that this is a specialty? Eggs poached whole, so they look hardboiled until you cut into them and a pale yellow yolk slowly spills out, made thick and rich from its gentle cooking. It’s tossed in buttered breadcrumbs, adding a crunchy element. Drag the truffle buttered toast through that rich yolk, savoring the heady, intoxicating slices of truffle that top the eggs themselves.
Seared foie gras
One of the best renditions of foie in Paris. Beautifully seared, with a very light, delicately crackling exterior instead of the rock-hard sheath that covers most of these delicate meats. It’s cooked with aromatics like ginger and stone fruits and then served with carrots so soft and sweet that you might not believe they are healthy for you. The foie is a perfect medium, with a barely rosy color at the interior. It is one of the lightest foies I have ever had, and it dissipates like a cloud, while the meaty, almost sugary taste resonates on your palate. This will have you wiping the plate with your finger.
Don’t worry, they let you do that here.
Pig trotter and foie gras pie
It’s a pork egg roll. That’s really what it is. Juicy, salty, faintly sweet pieces of pork mixed with buttery, melting foie gras plopped inside a crispy egg roll wrapper. Instead of soy sauce there is a rich wine demiglace that is sweet and dense, complementing the meant and adding another layer of flavor. Instead of the fried wontons, expect light and buttery mashed potatoes that are perfect for sopping up the rich meaty sauce and any errant bites of foie.
That’s rather misleading. There won’t be any errant foie.
This is peasant food at its best – hearty but refined with delicate flavors like sage and thyme peeking through tender bits of meat and crispy pastry. It’s incredibly filling and entirely unforgettable.
It may be the smallest cheese plate in town, but the cheese you get is sure to be special. This one was a cow’s mil that was a double crème, I think. Soft but not runny with a pleasantly ashy, bitter rind and a sweet, creamy interior. Spread it on bread for a savory end to the night.
Or spread it on bread with butter.
Or get this very sweet, nutty caramel soufflé that is both airy and so intensely sugary that it may shock you. Pour all of the accompanying buttery caramel sauce in there. Go for it.
Did you notice how many times I said “buttery” in this review? That’s how all of the food felt. Luxurious. Cozy. Indulgent, yet familiar. The staff was unbelievably sweet and accommodating, telling us which dishes we should get and directing us towards a celebratory champagne.
The price is high – you pay for the lovely service and the unstuffy atmosphere. But you really pay for the outstanding food. That foie. Those eggs. That SOUFFLE.
You might have to pay your rent late one month. But it will be worth it.
After all, everyone deserves one special meal in Paris.