A friend recently commented that we never waste our appetite, and so, when we found ourselves in Paris for a whole afternoon before a late flight back home, it was the perfect opportunity for lunch. Being the Fete de Maman in France I decided to take Heidi out for a special Mother’s Day treat (I didn’t really, I had this meal booked several weeks before but don’t tell Heidi), so it was off to Christian Constant’s Violon d’Ingress.
The place is smart and comfortable and service is impeccably drilled and understated. A glass of Perrier Jouet Grand Brut was just the trick with ‘light as a feather’ Gougeres whilst we perused the menu and wine list. The wine list is quite limited but they do have a big range of Daniel Rion wines. As Rion’s Australian importer we blew a bit of vent up our Sommelier’s derriere, noting his remarkable ability to find well priced, quality Burgundy. We eventually settled on the 80 euro degustation menu and a bottle of 2010 Marcel Lapierre Morgon. The Lapierre is not as full throttle or concentrated as the 2009 but no less beguiling. There’s a light herbal scent countered nicely by bright raspberry and cherry fruits. It is leafy, stalky, sappy, mossy and slightly peppery and is fine and lacy in the mouth with that gentle texture that so many of these natural, low sulphur numbers possess. It finishes with crisp acidity and is deceptively long.
First course of crab with caviar, and fennel cream was rich, textured and damn sexy. To follow, a wickedly adult version of dippy egg. A single, beautifully poached egg was coated with black truffles and served with toy soldiers that had been slathered with butter and truffle. On the side was a salad with a shallot vinaigrette. This dish is the new definition of comfort food. Next, perfectly cooked Sea bass with capers, cornichons, olive oil, lemon.
A couple of game bird dishes rounded out the savoury courses. The first a large slab of Duck foie gras that had been rolled in pain d’epices crumbs, pan fried with honey and served with a fruit glaze, absolutely heavenly. Followed by roasted Pigeon that remained quite pink throughout. A strip of crispy pancetta adorned the silky bird and a warm salad of peas, broad beans, lettuce and shallots was a great accompaniment.
The equal best dessert of the trip (along with L’Ami Jean’s rice pudding) was the Souffle with caramel. Wonderfully eggy, but light soufflé stood as proud as a honeymooner’s appendage and was served with a small jug of perfect caramel. I would have thought a rich Barsac or Sauternes to have made the perfect match to this perfect dessert but our sommelier poured us a glass of 2007 Domaine Cachau ‘Mas Castello’ Muscat de Rivesaltes. It had some spiced pear, musk and honey traits and finished quite dry and worked remarkably well with the soufflé.
The coffee here is close to the best we’ve had in Paris, in fact the whole package is quality. The food is classic French food prepared with a lighter hand. The ambiance is formal without being stuffy and all staff are informative, friendly and passionate.