19, quai de la Tournelle (5)
Renamed La Rotisserie
On the quai beyond Notre Dame. Casual, something less than crisp décor, but good menu and very fine food. Warm welcome. Professionally run. Open Sunday.
My 2010 write-up omitted what wasn’t clear to me at the time: La Rotisserie (they dropped “du Beaujolais” several years ago) was started and is owned by the venerable and still legendary La Tour d’Argent (See 5th) across the street. Except for website bragging rights and house-branded wines prominently featured on its list, you wouldn’t know it otherwise, and I didn’t five years ago.
Interesting as history, but every restaurant must stand on its own. We returned because we had heard good comments following our pleasant, but otherwise unmemorable meal, also on a Sunday night.
A successful and entirely satisfactory dinner, roasted shoulder of lamb for two. Exactly the type of food we hoped for – a lesson in itself. Few Paris restaurants aspire to be everything to everyone at every service. It is hard when you book far ahead for a full week or more, but keep in mind when planning that variety/diversity is no less desirable in Paris than at home. Sometimes you feel like one thing, sometimes something else.
Two rooms, an enclosed sidewalk terrace and a cozy dining room, of which one side is an open kitchen focused on a gas-fired rotisserie. A chef and two helpers, 3 waiters and a manager.
A name change, this time more than name only.
Long-owned by La Tour d’Argent, it is now edging closer in several highly positive ways. Completely redone; brighter, fresher, but clearly casual. The Tour d’Argent wine and memorabilia shop on the corner has become a bakery serving both restaurants with wonderful bread. Dessert pastries from the staff across the street (supposedly – but very nice). Best of all, menu additions including a superb quenelle de brochet “Andre Terrail” (founder of La Tour). Not clear whether sourced from that kitchen or a third party, but an entrée worth going for if nothing more. But there is more and always was, including 5 hour lamb shoulder for two which was our main course. Otherwise menu of mostly meats, many prepared on rotisserie, continues.
On a Monday night nearly full, more full than on any of our previous visits, suggesting the May, 2016 re-do is working.
Service was entirely friendly, but rushed and without polish as the staff struggled to keep up with what must have been an unexpected crowd.
Fair prices still, including several wine selections from the La Tour d’Argent once vast cellar.
Quite good, focusing on roasted meats and poultry. Roast chicken at 15€ ranging to duck, lamb, beef for two at 50€. Simple desserts.
Grilled/roasted food, mostly meat, foul and game. Lamb beautifully sliced over a heaping mound of roasted potatoes, preceded by a mélange of mushrooms provencale and ceps with boiled egg to break into a sauce. Chocolate mousse to share. A perfect fall dinner.
Like the décor, quite relaxed, but warm and professional.
Friendly, helpful, bilingual, informal, but largely efficient.
Wide-range, low to moderate.
A la carte. Reasonable wines within a broad range from a short list. Starters 9€ – 19€. Plats 22€ (roast chicken) – 87€ (sliced steak for 2 with béarnaise). Our dinner: 148€.
A note following our most recent 2019 Sunday night dinner: the website boasts caneton for 2 in 2 services (roasted whole duck). The menu lists it. The blackboard menu of daily specials above the kitchen pass includes it.
Of our 3 most recent meals here, including this one, “Out of duck”. To be fair, all were Sundays. Of course, they are open on Sunday (one reason, in addition to the promise of duck, we go there). Two times of 3 is not just bad luck. Could anyone imagine eating at the parent restaurant across the street, La Tour D’Argent, and not ordering – and being served – pressed duck?
For our Sunday night dinner this time we called ahead and reserved a duck. (The table next to us was served one too, the last, without reserving). It was good, but a rotisserie duck is not the same, and to my taste, not in the same league as a traditional roast duck with orange or cherry sauce carved tableside, memories of which represent the quintessential French meals (in New York and Paris) of my high school (NYC) and college years. Now pretty much unavailable in either city, in favor of (invariably inferior) sautéed duck breast (magret) sliced and fanned over plate. A concession to cost, prep time, skill level in the kitchen and on the part of front of the house staff now without carving skills.
Still, we got our duck.
Surprisingly, on our normal Sunday night, a large banquet style birthday party for a well-dressed French group, plus more Americans than we had seen anywhere on this off season November trip.