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Tour d'Argent


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Zagat's December 2002 newsletter reported the following:

"Roast duck number one million will be served at a gala dinner on April 29, 2003. Since 1880, every duck served in this famous dining room has been numbered, with King Edward VII of England eating duck No. 328, and his granddaughter Queen Elizabeth II tucking into No. 185,387. Owner Claude Terrail will select the 110 guests who will see this tradition into seven digits."

I have my certificate in a photo album. :smile:

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Below is additional information on the Tour d'Argent duck:


(restaurant's site)

Below is an excerpt from Joseph Wechsberg's "Blue Trout and Black Truffles" on the Tour d'Argent canard (duck):

"It was premiered in 1890 by the great chef Federic Delair . . . The ducks come from large duck farms in the Vendee region, near Nantes, where the soil and the climate cooperate in creating half-wild ducks suited for the recipe. At the age of six weeks the ducks are smothered, to prevent loss of blood, packed in paper and crushed ice, and shipped by rail to Paris . . . . The carcass of the duck is put through a silver press and the blood (the 'juice') is caught in a special dish. Added to it are the mashed-up raw liver of the duck, a glass of port, a little Madeira, and Fine Champagne, a few drops of lemon juice, salt, pepper, and spices. The sauce is started on a hot fire, which is slowed down after a while. It must have the thickness and color of melted chocolate. The slices of the underdone meat are cooked in the sauce, under constant stirring, for twenty-five minutes, and served very hot from the silver plate."

Below are rough notes on my lunch at La Tour d'Argent a while ago:

Huitres chaudes de Belon a la Brolatti (Hot Belon oysters, Brolatti style)

Caneton Tour d'Argent (Duckling Tour d'Argent style)

Beignets (donut-like desserts)

      Champagne, Tour d'Argent private label (Blanc de

      Blancs; there is also a rose version)

      Grands Echezeux, Gouroux or Garoux 1976

      Verbena Infusion

A glorious day for lunch at this restaurant -- the view is indeed impeccable against the powder blue/grey light, brimming with sunshine and initially muted.  The banks of the river and the buildings down below appealed. While our table was not the closest to the window area, it was still in the lower, main part of the restaurant and was, in fact, subjectively preferable because it was next to the little platformed area where the blood duck was prepared in view of customers. That platformed area is in front of a large mural, which is featured on the numbered postcards (numbered for the duckling eaten at the restaurant) offered to customers (they can be mailed by the restaurant, or received after the meal).  The duck press was, of course, prominent in this area, and apparently only one dining room staff member ever operated the press for any given service. An older duck press can be viewed in the bar/seating area that has a semi-museum function on the entry level.

The oysters were mediocre -- the cheese-like sauce was starchy and mundane. More disturbingly, the temperature of the oysters was less than warm and this significantly diminished the dish. The oysters were also devoid of any iodine flavors.

The duck was quite good, and satisfied my curiosity as one of those famous plates that I'd like to sample at least once. The first serving was in aiguilettes (thin-ish slices). The meat was tender and flavorful, and there was a dark greyish sauce (with only limited hints of maroon) that was granular (fine grains), and that had connotations of blood and inner organs only if one knew blood had been utilized in the dish. The main characteristic of this greyish sauce was its texture and a certain density/consistency. This was a very unusual preparation of duck, and the meat felt different in the mouth (due to having been passed through the duck press).

The second service was nice. Grilled, two pieces of duck -- the upper thigh and another dark meat piece. Tender, flavorful, but with good utilization of the crispiness of the skin and the lusciousness of fat. On the side was a salad with a light vinaigrette and little potato cubes. The meat was simply prepared in this service. Brought to the table was salt (fleur de sel) with parsley bits and dried leeks -- the seasoning was necessary and was put to good use.

The Grand Echezeux recommended by the sommelier was a decent match, although I should have adhered to my choice of an H Jayer Echezeux in hindsight. The bottle we did take had the interesting feature of having the look and color of blood -- a matte maroon that was a nice visual and cerebral play.

The dessert was unfortunate. Although apple, banana and pineapple had been included in the various donuts (different shapes), the execution of the donuts themselves was very poor. Dense, thick batter was used, and an ugly mush of green apple puree was horrible.

Overall, it was worthwhile to have visited La Tour d'Argent for the first time and to have sampled the blood duck made using the duck press there. I'm not eager to return, but there are certain restaurants that have to experienced at least once in view of their history and their reknown dishes.  :confused:

like yourself cabrales i wanted to visit la tour d'argent out of curiosity rather than expecting a great foodie experience.

I had dinner there over easter and had the quenelles, the duck and the beignets, many of these are available on the set lunch which having paid one of the largest bills of my eating career would heartily recommend! (however it is one of only a handful of starred places open on sundays).

The quenelles were nothing special and certainly under-delivered for the £20 or £30 i seem to remember they cost (and certainly not vastly better than the ones i had a few days later at 'la rottisserie de beaujolais' virtually next door). The duck was, well interesting, but the sauce not only very intense was also v spicy. At £80-odd for 2 i was very pleased with my celebratory postcard!

beignets were just boring....

Edited by cabrales (log)
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My first time in France and Paris was 1970. Wechsberg's description of Sole Sully was the great enticement to me. And so lunch at the Tour d'Argent was a must. I had quenelles which had no pike flavor and paste for a sauce. The main dish was the noisettes of lamb also described in Wechsberg. Nothing special to it. I don't remember dessert. Wine was a Nuits-St. Georges. Another time many years later I had quenelles de brochet Nantua at Nandron in Lyon, then 2 rosettes, and they were mediocre. Taillevent served slices of a loaf of brochet with a beurre blanc sauce at that time. At least there was pike in it, but the beurre blanc was poorly executed. Actually far and away the best quenelles de brochet Nantua I've had was at La Caravelle in New York back when they had classic cuisine. Getting back to the Tour d'Argent, I have never returned because I had been ripped off. Now Cabrales may hunt for Coq au Vin, but my quest would be for Sole Sully. That's authentic haute cuisine for me.

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pirate -- If you wouldn't mind discussing it, why does Sole Sully mandate a visit to Tour d'Argent? Is it a TA creation as well? Is Sole Sully the same as the "Filets de sole Cardinal, riz blanc de Camargue", the "Goujonnettes de sole aux deux sauces" or the "Sole belle meuniere et pommes grenailles" listed below? :blink:

Below is the La Tour d'Argent menu of Autumn-Winter 2000-2001. Due to the need for translation of all items, I'm going to hold off on providing the same for Taillevent at this point.  


-- Bisque Cafe Anglais (Bisque, Cafe Anglais style)

-- Saumon fume d'Ecosse, crepe au poivre noir, creme a l'herbe des vikings (Scottish smoked salmon, crepe with black pepper, herbed cream of the vikings?)

-- Brouillade aux truffes Vincent Bollore (scrambled eggs with truffles, Vincent Bollore style)

-- Caviar oscietre, blinis tiede (oscetra caviar, lukewarm blinis)

**Quenelles de brochet, Andre Terrail (pike quenelles, Andre Terrail style; A Terrail is a former chef at the restaurant and a member of the family that operates it)**

-- Salade de Saint-Jacques a la vinaigrette de truffes (Scallops salad with a vinaigrette of truffles)

-- Foie gras d'oie des Trois Empereurs, brioche tiede, gelees de Porto et de Sauternes (Goose foie gras Three Emperor style, lukewarm brioche, gelee of port and Sauternes)

-- Feuillette de champignons et homard aux aromes du Perigord (Feuillette of mushroom and lobster scented with truffles)

-- Huitres chaudes de Belon a la Brolatti (Hot Belon oysters, Brolatti style)


** Filets de sole Cardinal, riz blanc de Camargue (Filet of sole, Cardinal style, with a white rice from Camargue)**

-- Rouget poeles aux supions, mariniere anisee, sauce a l'encre (Pan-fried red mullet with a relative of squid (?), mariniere with anise, a sauce of [squid] ink)

-- Goujonnettes de sole aux deux sauces (Sole with two sauces)

-- Turbot etuve au Jurancon, pommes Roseval au beurre demi-sel (Turbot with Jurancon, potatoes Roseval style with half-salted butter)

-- Homard a la Winterthur (Lobster, Winterthur style)

Seasonal offerings

-- **Sole belle meuniere et pommes grenailles (Sole _)**

-- Feuillete d'asperges et de morilles (Feuillete of asparagus and morels)

-- Salade de Saint-Jacques aux truffes (Scallops salad with truffles)

-- Croustade de Barbue Lagrene (Croustade of brill, Lagrene)

Ducklings (all 2 person dishes)

-- Caneton Mazarine a l'orange (Duckling Mazarine with orange)

-- Caneton Tour d'Argent (this is with blood sauce, in two servings)

-- Caneton Claude Foussier

-- Caneton Marco Polo au poivre vert (Duckling Marco Polo with green pepper)

-- Caneton de l'An 2000 au vin de Bourgogne (Duckling of the year 2000 with Burgundy wine)

-- Caneton Elie de Rothschild

Upon Special Request

-- Gigot d'agneau du Grand Seize (2 persons) (Leg of lamb of )

-- Cote de veau de lait, puree truffee (2 persons) (Side of milk-fed veal, puree of truffles potatoes)

-- Filet de boeuf de Salers, a la fondue d'echalotes, pommes aux amandes, flan aux epinards (Filet of Salers beef, with a fondue of shallots, potatoes with almonds, a spinach flan)

-- Vegetables

-- Cheese


-- Valse de sorbets, tuile craquante a l'orange (Waltz of sorbets, a crunchy veil of orange)

-- Profiteroles au chocolat chaud (Profiteroles of chocolate)

-- Poires caramelise "Vie Parisienne" (Caramelised pear, Vie Parisienne style)

-- Flambee de peche, a l'esprit de fromboises sauvages, glace vanille et gateau a la fleur d'oranger (Flambeed peaches, with sensations of wild rasberries, vanilla ice cream, and a cake of orange flower blossom)

-- Souffle aux liquers d'orange (20 min) (Souffle with orange liquer)

-- Douceur au carmel et aux noisettes (Caramel and hazelnut dessert)

-- Millefeuille au chocolat (Chocolate millefeuille)

-- Crepes "Belle Epoque" (Crepes, Belle Epoque style)


Edited by cabrales (log)
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The description of sole Sully was given in Wechsberg's book (page 233)as being served at the Tour d"argent. It seemed the place to go for it. Even in 1970 it was probably too costly to make. To quote Wechsberg:

"Our lunch began with sole Sully, a creation of the late chef Cathelin, and one of the most elaborately prepared dishes we've eaten anywhere."

I would also like to quote Wechsberg again.

"At La Tour d'Argent they frown at such vulgar ingredients as cream or flour for sauces"

That was no longer true when I ate there.

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Does anyone else see Stone's image or do we all see the "Sorry ..." message? Presumably all of us are trying to access the image from outside of imageStation.com.

Robert Buxbaum


Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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Can you see me now?

Can you see me now?

Can you see me now?

Can you see me now?

Can you see me now?

Can you see me now?

Can you see me now?

Can you see me now?

Can you see me now?

Can you see me now?

(By the way, that's not my image. It's an image of a duck press. I'm much taller.)

Edited by Dstone001 (log)
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Roast duck number one million will be served at a gala dinner on April 29, 2003.

.Owner Claude Terrail will select the 110 guests who will see this tradition into seven digits."

the only way i'd go back was if he invited me!

and i can't remember where i've put my card :raz:

you don't win friends with salad

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The description of sole Sully was given in Wechsberg's book (page 233)as being served at the Tour d"argent.

pirate -- I reviewed the Wechsberg excerpt -- 50 pounds of sole flesh being cooked down into 1 pound for the essence. Now, that's a dish I might consider asking La Tour d'Argent to recreate on my next visit to Paris (not that the restaurant would be receptive). :blink:

On the 2000 duck in Burgundy, it's hard to tell whether it would be the "duck" iteration of a coq au vin. My dining companion and I both sampled the blood duck on my only visit to the restaurant.

On the duck press, I believe tour d'argent utilizes silver-colored ones. There is at least another (older) duck press in the bar/lounge which is towards the back of the ground floor (after one would turn right to access the elevator) and which is a "museum" of sorts for Tour d'Argent-relevant items. There are other duck-themed items in the "museum" and certain very old unopened bottles of wine as well. In DStone001's picture, the duck press does not appear to contain certain of its parts (?), relative to other duck presses I have seen.

Other numbered ducklings went to:

-- Duck #328 to King Edouard VII


(article in French)

-- Duck #112,151 to Franklin D. Roosevelt (1929)

Edited by cabrales (log)
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Well, the ducks destined for the Tour d'Argent have to be handled a certain way both during their lives and with respect to their termination, for them to meet the restaurant's specifications. I do not know why the ducks were originally numbered, but the ducks are sourced very particularly. Perhaps there might have been a marketing component to the numbering and postcard follow-up (??). I don't know.

"Shortly after having invented the recipe he started a tradition: the Ducks were numbered and a post-card is given attesting the number. If tomorrow you order a duck ­ au Sang ­ à l'Orange ­ with Pepper,... it will be served to you accompanied with a card stating the number of your Duck: in the **guest book of the famous ducks**, one can learn that the n° 328 was served to King EDOUARD VII in 1890, the n° 40 312 was served to King Alphonse XIII in 1914 and the n° 53 211 was served to the Emperor Hiro Hito in 1921."

The image on the current postcards resembles the image below, but the edges and certain visual representations are somewhat different. The central, bearded figure is still on the current postcards, which are multi-colored and not sepia in visual representation. That figure is also shown (large size) on the wall of the restaurant's dining room -- the wall that is behind the duck press station.


I wonder if all ducks served at the restaurant are numbered, or just those that are made with the blood preparation. Probably the former (?). :blink:

Below is the recipe for the duck:


The duck have since become one of the restaurant's central themes. For example, one of the major pieces of decoration in the restaurant (sometimes placed in the corridor leading to the escalator on the ground floor) is a "metal" representation of a man with playing cards adorning his clothing. On the statue, one can see various references to ducks if one is careful.

Below is another description of the duck:


Edited by cabrales (log)
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  • 1 month later...

I suggest you do a search on "argent." For some reason I don't know why "tour d'argent" or "d'argent" does not bring the same results or any results. Here's one thread of interest.

Tour d'Argent Duck #1 M.

It's very famous for its duck press. I suspect one should order the duck if only for the history. The restaurant has been reduced to two stars, still a mighty significant rating in Michelin, but it's rarely on the lips of gastronomes for it's current offerenings and more spoken of for its place in the history of gastronomy.

Whenever I am asked for a recommendation of a restaurant of a dish, I want to know something of the person who is getting that recommendation as I don't think it's entirely reasonable that my tastes should dictate their tastes or that what pleases me, should please them. As this is a very well known, elegant and expensive restaurant, I'm curious to know how or why it was chosen if the person in question seems less than familiar with what it has to offer. I suppose it may well be a business luncheon or that he's (she's?) an invited guest.

Robert Buxbaum


Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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they have a comprehensive web site on www.tourdargent.com.

although it does not appear to have the menu online?

the duck is the most obvious house dish and is on the lunch menu, as are many of their specialities i believe. It is good value compared to the evening a la carte.

from memory the quenelles de brochet and poached peaches are highlighted as specialities for starter and desert.



you don't win friends with salad

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Go for lunch as the view on a nice day is really memorable (it's also a bit cheaper than dinner - another way to keep the cost down is watch the booze as it is VERY expensive).

If you can somehow manage it get a table at the window.

It may have 'only' two stars but it is still an incredible experience. Many restaurants have signed photos of past-their-sell by-date-if-not-dead celebrities. Not so here, as you get on the lift you'll see their collection of signatures only (including a Mrs Elizabeth Regina) which can't be bad.

Edited by peterpumkino (log)
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  • 1 month later...

(I worked at the "Tour" for two years in 1980-81 as a cook.)

Claude Terrail, 85, will hand over the helm to his 22-year-old son, Andre on April 29.

Also, on April 29 there will be a celebration of the millionth pressed duck served. Famous duck-eaters include: Japanese emperor Hirohito (twice, fifty years apart) received duck No. 53,211 on June 21, 1921, and duck No. 423,900 on October 3, 1971. King Edward VII downed duck number 328 in 1890 and Theodore Roosevelt 33,642 in 1910.

The restaurant is 411 years-old -- serving in the same location since 1582.

Terrail has had a pretty good time of it:

He once was married to Barbara Warner and, to mention but one, had an affair with Ava Gardner. He fed a lot of Hollywood talent, Europe's royals, and people in high political office through much of the 20th century. Orson Welles was a friend, as were Errol Flynn and Jane Mansfield.

The entrance hall at the Tour d'Argent has photographs and letters left by the powerful and the wealthy, from John F Kennedy to a tableful of Nobel prizewinners. His favorites guests were Winston Churchill and Sir Alexander Fleming.

Of course, being able to father a son at sixty-three...

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They need some new blood.... if only they'd change that cranky Maitre d' as well...

Anti-alcoholics are unfortunates in the grip of water, that terrible poison, so corrosive that out of all substances it has been chosen for washing and scouring, and a drop of water added to a clear liquid like Absinthe, muddles it." ALFRED JARRY


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  • 8 months later...

Hi All

This is my first post - most impressed by some of the writing on this website - some real word smiths are in the house... Anyhoo, I am planning my delayed honeymoon with my wife to Europe in May and wanted to get some advice on restaurants in Paris. I have had a look through many of the topics in this part of the forum already and found reams (Reims?) of useful information - sorry, bad pun, couldn't resist.

I read about Tour d'Argent a few years back in a high-follutin' magazine of some type and it does sound highly romanticised and old world. I am an Australia native and have not had the pleasure of dining in truly ancient eating emporiums much at all, so the historical significance of this place appeals immensely. One of my favourite meals ever was at New York's One if By Land, Two If By Sea, although it was not simply the building being steeped in history that one us over, the brilliant degustation menu was the real key.

Now obviously there are some more highly fancied restaurants on Paris - Lucas Carton seems to be a favourite among forum posters - so I was wanting a fank opinion on whether tour d'Argent is more "showy" and my money would find a better experience at another 2 or 3 starred Parisian eatery.

Feedback would be highly appreciated.


Edited by DJOblong (log)
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Actually, my wife and I ate at Tour d'argent on our honeymoon, and I think it's a good occasion restaurant. There's much pomp and history. There's a wonderful view of Notre Dame, etc. It has an enormous wine list. The food is good but basically you only go to order the duck, served in 2 courses. It's not the least bit cutting edge as you have already sensed. It's not cheap in the evening though there is a cheaper lunch available. http://www.tourdargent.com/uk/indexbis.html

Edited by hollywood (log)

I'm hollywood and I approve this message.

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Unfortunately, the Tour D'Argent is only a shadow of its former self, both from a culinary standpoint and a sense of palpable excitement in the dining room. Although it continues to receive 2 stars from Michelin, this relates largely to its historic importance, and it really barely deserves one, the Gault Millau rating of 15/20 is probably right on target. The winelist remains important, although it has been picked over, lots of verticals with key years missing. The wine pricing is very inconsistent versus current market values, and there are bargains as well way overpriced wines, so some advance research would be well advised.

The Paris 3 stars getting the most positive attention these days are Arpege, Ambroisie and Pierre Gagnaire, the latter if you're looking for cutting edge. I found the food at a recent dinner at ADPA to be genuinely outstanding, but there were significant service problems.

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