Paris’ Tour d’Argent reinvents itself to keep its history alive
Paris, Mar 26 (EFE).- Paris’ centuries-old Tour d’Argent restaurant, which once boasted three Michelin stars, is undergoing a profound regeneration as it looks to the future.
The restaurant, which first opened in 1582 and is one of the French capital’s oldest establishments, is looking to “join the 21st century” by renovating and reorganizing its space, which has a privileged view of the Seine river and Notre Dame cathedral, owner André Terrail tells Efe.
The new Tour d’Argent “will of course respect the heritage of the house, with some strong contemporary touches,” Terrail says.
In 2006, Terrail took over the reins of this family business from his grandfather, who bought it in 1914 from Frédéric Delair, who came up with the famous pressed duck recipe, which has been served over 1.17 million times.
The restaurant is steeped in tradition and history. It was here that King Henry IV first discovered the fork when he saw Italian noblemen using it to avoid staining their ruff, and it grew in popularity.
Legend says that knights dueled on the banks of the Seine for a table at the restaurant. “Tour is present at different times throughout French history,” Terrail says.
Most of the clientele admit they go to the restaurant to taste the famous dish, renamed in 2016 as the ‘Frédéric Delair duck’. Its carcass is pressed and the sauce is made with the resulting blood and a little alcohol.
“It is an iconic recipe. The sauce is adapted depending on the years and the season, perhaps to reduce the flavor a little, but it is still the original recipe and our idea is to keep it,” chef Yannick Franques says.
As remarkable as this dish is the restaurant’s extensive wine cellar, with some 300,000 bottles and 14,000 references grouped in a large booklet weighing eight kilos, known internally as the ‘encyclopedia’ or ‘the Bible’.
In 1940, during the Nazi occupation of Paris, André’s father, Claude, hid a large part of that cache by erecting a wall so that the treasured bottles would not be looted.
The closure of the restaurant for remodeling, from April 30 to February 2023, will not see it close down completely.
The Tour d’Argent has a rotisserie, a bakery and a delicatessen and in the coming months will go on a “tour” to offer its unique gastronomic experience in other places.
It will be its largest restoration and promises a strong comeback: “We are going to write the next chapter of this house so that the clientele of tomorrow continue to find something consistent,” its owner says. EFE