Le Jules Verne

bread

Alain Ducasse recently took over la direction of Le Jules Verne, the high-end restaurant in the Eiffel Tower that had lost its reputation and luster as a fine dining destination during the past several years. I hadn’t ever eaten there, since its reputation had preceded it. But this week, I finally got my chance to dine there.

foie gras

We waited patiently for the private elevator of the Tour Eiffel to lift us up to mid-tower, over four hundred feet in the air, above Paris.


Once you embark from the elevator, it’s a short walk through a dark alcove and into the bright, updated dining room.

My lunch menu degustation started with a mosaic of foie gras and chicken, which was served with a choice of bread from a copious basket. A little poofy brioche was also brought to spread with foie gras and since we opted for the wine pairing, the sommelier poured a silky, rich Viogner from the Loire-sur-Rhône served alongside, which was perfect.

brioche

For my main course, I chose the bar, a delicate, yet meaty fish that was gently cooked and served on a bed of leeks with clams and tiny shrimp tails tossed around. But everyone at the table who’d ordered the blanquette de veau, reinterpreted here in a very light cream sauce with roasted morsels of veal and accents of fresh herbs, raved. The partnered wine was a pinot noir from Burgundy that was young and serviceable, but without much flair.

fish

The new Jules Verne kept the original Pininfarina chairs, the same company which designed the seating in some Ferrari automobiles, which were quite comfortable for dining and looking at the views of Paris. I was smitten and think they should sell them in the gift shop. When they do, I’ll take four.

chairspastries

For dessert, I chose the Savarin; a yeasted dome of cake soaked tableside with a choice of Armagnac and a cascade of very softly-whipped cream. It needed perhaps a spoonful of honey to accent the flavor. But the plate of mingnardese—little pastries to go along with coffee, featured clotted cream and jam-filled macarons and delicious little chocolate praline rectangles sitting on a piece of nutty meringue.

A cool, slender glass of sauternes was poured, which was exquisite. Enough to seal the sweet end of the meal off in highly-polished form. The café express, usually the bane of Paris dining, was terrific.

The only off-kilter part of the experience was the service, which was curiously awkward. I think they’re still trying to find a balance between friendly and formal, which is especially challenging when waiting on Americans, who tend to be looser and generally like to be on friendlier terms with waiters.

french butter

One of my dining companions ordered a cappuccino after dessert and the waiter jokingly replied, “Sorry, the coffee machine is closed.” When he came back with her coffee, I asked why it wasn’t in a paper cup, like a cappuccino is supposed to be served in. My joke was met with a frosty silence. It wasn’t until I turned around and realized it was a different waiter, who from the expression on his face, made it obvious he didn’t get, or appreciate, my humor.

Gulp.

But when I told the Maître d’hôtel that the butter was astoundingly good, he came back with a handwritten note with the name of the person who made it along with describing to us how the butter was made.

There’s a fixed price lunch menu for 70€, with which you can add a wine pairing. A dinner menu is available as well, or you can order à la carte. I think it was a step in the right direction to get the restaurant in shape and would like to return in the evening, when the lights of Paris are twinkling. Once they hit their stride, and hopefully they will, I hope they combine the well-prepared food with perfectly-polished service, worthy of such a dramatic setting. And I’m looking forward to having some more of that superlative butter, which is my new obsession. But in case I don’t make it back, I’m definitely working on tracking down the source.

Le Jules Verne
The Eiffel Tower
Tél: 01 45 55 61 44

(The Eiffel Tower Restaurants)

25 comments

  • Oooh, lovely. What a nice report on their updates. I’d like to hear more about that butter, too.

  • You have made me deeply happy, David. All except that I will never find that butter.

    Sometimes I forget to make French food. No one pays me to do so, so I don’t. But although other things can be as good, nothing in better.

  • The presentation of the food is much more relaxed and casual than I would have predicted. Glad to hear the restaurant has been revitalized!

  • It’s good to hear it’s getting good again. I ate there, I do believe, with my grandmother and mother when I was 15 and it was memorable only in how forgettable it was. If you know what I mean.

  • I ate lunch there back in 2000. I wasn’t thrilled about going, but my friends wanted to eat there. I thought of it as too touristy, but it’s actually a very beautiful memory. The view, being in the Eiffel Tower… I would love to try it again, now under Alain Ducasse’s le direction.

  • There’s also more moderate restaurant in the Eiffel Tower that M. Ducasse took over la direction of that might be worth trying as well. I’m glad they updated the place, but kept the chairs. And from what some of you have said, that only confirms what I heard about the previous incarnation.

  • the photos are lovely… especially the mosaic.

  • I too would like to hear more about the butter, please … :)

  • David,

    The food looks incredible. But I’d love to hear your opinion of the china. So… white. Is it me or does it seem IKEA-ish?

  • David. I found you like a month ago and feel as if Im in Paree with you.Your latest, the Jules Verne adventure was fabulous. I linked up with the Verne home page and after lookin around, nearly dropped dead (like Plotz, yuh know?). When you press the
    “Offrir” link a 5 second bit of a 1930s chanteuse comes on. I would be sooo grateful if you might know the song/chanteuse.I heard it years ago and would be so grateful.Thank you very much. Leo Greer

  • I wonder how Ducasse is going to fare here in New York at the reincarnation of the old La Cote Basque?
    He just doesn’t seem to have the golden touch here?
    David that Rebel camera is great isn’t it?

    Happy eating!

  • Polly: Ikea-like wasn’t what came to mind when I saw the plates (I’m a white-plate kinda guy…) but it did showcase the food, which is a bit complicated, nicely.

    Jeremy: As I alluded to, I think Americans prefer service (even high-end) to be more relaxed. Plus they’re not used to the stratospheric prices of three-star restaurants—here or there.

    And yes, I love my Rebel! Glad I brought it along…

    Leo: Don’t know the song. Usually I race to hit the ‘mute’ button before visiting French websites. Maybe someone else knows?

  • Ah yes, for Leo… probably the original American in Paris; Josephine Baker the song is J’Ai Deux Amours.

  • The first restaurant we’ve both been to! I went three years ago during a January, and what I remember most is the lemon crepe I had after dinner in the Latin Quarter. I’d love to return to Le Jules Verne and experience the new menu and management.

  • Wow! You’re lucky you got to check it out! Why wasn’t I invited?!?! I’ve been trying to get a reservation there for the last three years (before it was a Ducasse restaurant). That butter is VERY special and he uses it at all his restaurants. It is hand made and rolled the old fashion way between well worn teak rollers by an artisian butter maker in Normandy (or is it Brittany, I forget?). The only thing that bugs about the menu you described is the foie gras and chicken terrine because (excuse my loyalty on this one) that is a signature dish at Guy Savoy. Nonetheless, what a fantastic experience. So jealous.

  • David
    How kind of you to post my latest hunt for yet another grail. And,my eternal gratitude to Joanne. A snippet of music like this goes so much farther than 13 weeks of American Idol. Again thank you so very much much

  • Wine geek alert! That probably wasn’t a Viognier from the Loire Valley you were served. More likely Chenin blanc (in case you want to look for something similar to try at home).

  • Steve: Map geek alert! I checked my wine guide and it said Viogner is from the North Rhône, which is adjacent to the Loire, although those sneaks sometimes call it Loire-sur-Rhône.

    Seems there are 2 Loires in France..

  • Thank you for your vivid description which is making me rethink trying for a reservation at this restaurant. Please tell me about the macarons filled with clotted cream and jam…have you come across these elsewhere? I thought clotted cream was exclusively available in the UK and I’m a huge fan.

  • Pininfarina (of which you say that it is “the same company with makes the seating in Ferrari automobiles”) does not manufacture chairs or car seating, it is a world famous car design firm. They’ve designed cars for many if not all car manufacturers, including Ferrari. In 1990, they also designed a chair for Poltrona Frau – which is probably what you saw at the Jules Verne.

  • I, too, covet those chairs.

    DSLRs take wonderful pictures but they’re rather clunky, even the new compact ones like mine (nikon d40) and the rebel xt’s. A friend recently bought a canon SX100 that takes fabulous stabilized zoom (10x) shots and still fits into a small purse (I guess not applicable to you unless you carry one of those manpurses)…and a LOT cheaper than G9’s! It’s selling for around 220 on Amazon right now.

    That’s a GREAT tutorial on DSLR’s and lenses on the entry you linked above in the comments. I wish I’d seen it before I bought my Nikon so I could just copy your ensemble. :)

  • ARGH!!!!!!!!!!

    Another post I missed and could have used. We could have done my birthday dinner!!!

    GARRRRGGGGGG!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Oh well there is always next year when I will be quarante-deux and will have a friend willing to experiment in food.

  • david- thank you so much for all the suggestions you post on your blog. i recently traveled to paris with my mother, along with some addresses i noted from your website. ‘les cocottes’ was absolutely astounding, though i wish i had known only certain dishes come in the cocottes (i really wanted to eat out of one!). ‘du pain et des idées’ was even better…the owner was so nice and the pastries even nicer! i also had a similar experience on the eiffel tower at altitude 95. i think it’s odd that restaurants that seem so well-known would have seemingly sub-par service. either way, your suggestions helped to make the trip even better than it already was. keep up the good work!

  • Hi Clayton: Glad the suggestions helped make your trip more enjoyable. I didn’t think the service at Jules Verne was bad, it was just uneven and felt awkward. (Although I usually feel awkward in fancy restaurants, so it may have just been me.)

    Still, the view is lovely!

  • We have a booking for our family of three children and two adults. Am I crazy????? Could you also give me an indication as to the price to dine not including wine in US dollars. Thanks. Nyree