Rotisserie d’Argent

A stalwart of the “old guard” of classic Paris bistros has been revived. The reliable Rôtisserie du Beaujolais, across the street from the Seine, had been remodeled and refreshed as Rôtisserie d’Argent, the new name giving a nod to its famous cousin just across the street, the Tour d’Argent.

The Michelin-starred restaurant is a few centuries old, and it’s evolved into a mini-empire, composed of the grand restaurant, the casual rôtisserie, and Le Boulanger de la Tour, where breads are baked for both restaurants, and some of the pastries served at the rôtisserie are assembled.

I happened to be walking by one day and decided to stop into the bakery, where I picked up a palmier to take over to the bridge and eat, while watching the boats linger on the Seine. Two of my favorite activities in Paris. (Watching boats and eating pastries.) It was spectacular. (It also got 3572 likes on Instagram, so I wasn’t the only one who shared that opinion of it.) I wanted one of the well-cooked ones, and asked them to fish around the pastry case, until they grabbed the one that had my name on it. It was so good that I decided to return and check out the rebooted restaurant.

When I write about a restaurant here on the site, I don’t usually get to go three times. Sometimes it takes me years to go back to a place, even if I like it a lot. My take on a place is based on how much I like the food, how the staff are, if I feel the prices are fair, and whether or not I think you’ll like it.

Another criteria that make it worth sharing is if it’s open on Sunday, when most good restaurants in Paris are closed, which is when the Rôtisserie d’Argent is open. Surprisingly, I found myself dining here three times over the course of two months, so I could give, and get, a better overview of the place.

Because the restaurant sports an open kitchen, I got to talk to the chef on my second visit. He was presiding over the turning rôtisserie, slicing a pair of roasted canettes (duckings). Known for their pressed duck at the fancy restaurant (diners get a certificate with a number on it, as a memento), it’s just as popular at the bistro. And they do a great job with it at a fraction of the price.

On one of my first visits, we had the radishes with butter, a popular starter in France, although usually not served in restaurants due to its humble nature. Here’s it’s given a more modern treatment with a colorful pile of radishes, a ramekin of silky chive butter, and grains of flaky sea salt to sprinkle over them.

However, on the third visit, the salt wasn’t on the slate plate. When I asked for some sel, the waiter pointed to the salt shaker on the table. But it’s the flaky salt that really makes the dish, so I smiled and asked if it was possible to get some flaky sea salt, and we were presented with a little dish of the flaky salt, but pre-mixed with pepper, which doesn’t quite have the same effect as salt by itself.

I should add that the servers and hosts on each visit were always absolutely wonderful; thoughtful, attentive, and friendly. I think the miss was in the kitchen, where the salt should have been added to the plate, as it was before.

The other starter I’ve liked was the baked pike quenelles, two mousse-like ovals sitting over a bed of duxelles of mushrooms, blanketed in cream sauce. There was a lingering seafood-like flavor in the mushrooms, which I could have sworn was from snails, but the server said it was just from the mushrooms. They’re quite delicious…and filling, although the portion size isn’t overwhelming, although I recommend sharing an order, unless you have a particularly hearty appetite. I also recommend if there’s a housemade terrine on the menu, that you order that, too.

Even though the restaurant dropped Beaujolais from their title, the wines from that region are still the rule here. At some point, I’m going to learn more about wine. That’s on my list, after I learn Italian and Arabic, and master the galaxy of French verbs, as well as how to make granola bars, how to use all the features in Lightroom, and figure out how all those people in Pilates class can squeeze that giant inflatable ball between their knees, and using the strength of their abs, lift it straight up to the ceiling for twenty reps, because I can’t. Perhaps if I ate less and palmiers, I’d be able to.

But for now, I’m going to stick with knowing what I like, going by what I taste in the glass, and not what’s on the label. That worked, and  I didn’t go wrong with the Mâcon (a white Burgundy), sold by the pot (a bottle that’s refilled at the bar), and an excellent Brouilly, a cousin to Beaujolais (not to be confused with Beaujolais nouveau), served correctly at cellar temperature, that is, slightly chilled. It’s fruity, with a flavor that reminds me of dark cherries, and is one of my favorites of all the red wines.

Our Brouilly was rich enough to stand up to the steak-frites that Romain had, but also went well with the roast Challans chicken that I ordered, as it wasn’t too demanding or overwhelming.

The first two times I dined at the restaurant the French fries were outstanding. They were the kind of frites you dream about getting in a classic bistro in Paris; delectably thin, and perfectly crisp, with the flavor of fresh potatoes that were cut and prepared in a kitchen that obviously cares very much about the quality of its ingredients.

On my third visit, with a friend from New York and another from London (both esteemed cookbook editors, and discerning diners), after rhapsodizing about the fries, out came a plate heaped with white, soft, and undercooked fries, the kind I do my best to avoid in Paris – which is why I always say “Bien dorées, s’il vous plaît” (“Well browned, please”) when ordering frites in France. My friend from New York was stumped.

One restaurant owner told Romain and I when we asked him about that, he told us that he used to serve the fries crisp, but customers complained. But I think we need to keep up our vigilance. Since we were there on a Sunday night, perhaps the chef had the night off. So I hope it was just an aberration. Just in case, though, you might want to memorize “bien dorées” or write it on your arm in pen so you don’t forget.

Recently I had an online discussion about portion sizes for chicken. In the States, it’s not uncommon for a half-chicken to be an order for one person, and some readers from elsewhere were shocked about that. Well, c’est normal at the Rôtisserie d’Argent as well, although to be fair, French chickens are a little smaller. However, like the U.S., the rôtisserie offers “ducky bags” so you can take any leftovers home. I didn’t need a ducky bag as I was able to finish mine just fine.

Considering Americans get a bad rap for our food (usually by people that haven’t visited in a while, or ever), many of us miss vegetables when we travel as French restaurants don’t often feature them on menus. When they do, they’re not paid much attention to. (Except potatoes, which have royal status in France – rightfully.) Here you can actually get a plate of carefully cooked vegetables, which my dining companions who were traveling really appreciated.

But the sautéed potatoes are no slouch either, especially the long-cooked onions that come with them. So good!

After being wowed by the palmier, the first time I ate here, I found the desserts to be…okay. The Île Flottante needed a shot of vanilla and the flavor of the tartlets didn’t quite match up to how exquisite they were.

Then I had a Paris-Brest, shaped like an éclair (an idea I put forth in My Paris Kitchen, to please the pedants), and it was one of the best desserts I’ve had in Paris. My friend ordered the Île Flottante this time around, and it was excellent, with the smooth flavor of vanilla rounding out the eggy custard. They were out of the Paris-Brest, though, on my last visit, so I recommend asking them to hold one for you at the beginning of your meal.

Rôtisserie d’Argent
19, quai de la Tournelle (5th)
Tél: 01 43 54 17 47

Open Monday through Friday, Noon to 10:30pm, weekends Noon to 10:30pm.

Rotisserie d'Argent, a great classic bistro in Paris!

Never miss a post!

33 comments

  • September 29, 2017 8:51am

    You do a great job of reviewing restaurants. All your praise and criticism is very precise.
    The photos are fantastic.

  • Nancy
    September 29, 2017 1:19pm

    We went to this restaurant nine years ago and then it was wonderful. We sat by the window and ordered, as I remember, duck terrine and then a whole duck. It came out in two courses, the duck leg first and then the breast, the leg with greens and the breast with frites. Wowza! I’m glad to hear if I go again, and I will, I can enjoy a wonderful meal again. Plus, as I recall, there were a table or two with parties of more than 8 diners….a good thing to remember if you have that many friends!

  • September 29, 2017 5:16pm

    We ate here for the first time in March of 2006 when it was called La Rotissierie du Beaujolais with some friends who ran a Hotel in the 7th near rue Cler. It was great then and you profiled it in 2010. I am glad to see you have returned here and the same great food and wine is being “refreshed” and continued.

  • Allan Goldberg
    September 29, 2017 5:24pm

    We took our (almost) annual trip to Paris in early September. After the jet lag of the trip from Atlanta, it’s been our tradition to have a first night dinner of poulet frites, good comfort food. We’ve had quite a few good examples, but we did the Rotisserie d’Argent this time and will not have to look any further again. As you noted, the terrine was great, but the chicken and frites were just superb in every way. We loved the whole experience–just as you described!

  • Dick
    September 29, 2017 5:38pm

    David

    Brouilly is a one of the ten Beaujolais Crus, ie a wine from the Beaujolais region that is rather more up-market than Beaujolais or Beaujolais Village. Fantastic stuff!

    • Colin
      September 29, 2017 6:53pm

      The best of them all is Moulin a Vent which is close to a fine burgundy.

  • Ellen A.
    September 29, 2017 5:38pm

    “Just in case, though, you might want to memorize “bien dorées” or write it on your arm in pen so you don’t forget.”

    Done! And with a big smile.

  • Judi Suttles
    September 29, 2017 5:55pm

    I love your restaurant reviews! You sold me on this place.

  • September 29, 2017 6:41pm

    Will definitely have lunch there when I am in Paris next month…thank you as always!

  • Colin
    September 29, 2017 6:51pm

    Hmmm – consistency is the name of the game if you want a successful restaurant.
    I like the idea of ducklings, but surely the “ducky bag” is for them?

  • Melanie Brown
    September 29, 2017 7:10pm

    Thank you. We have noticed lately that the quality of potatoes available in Paris has affected the fries – some potatoes just don’t brown or crisp up as they should.

  • Linda BUTWINICK
    September 29, 2017 7:24pm

    Beautiful photos as always.

  • September 29, 2017 7:56pm

    Nothing wrong with the ‘old Paris’ IMHO. I’ve passed that Paris-Brest, shaped like an éclair many mornings on my way to the pool and managed to resist. Uh oh…a la prochaine.

  • Lesley Seitchik
    September 29, 2017 8:09pm

    I love reading you and use you as my go to recipe guru. Am planning a trip to Provence this spring…Would love your tips on where to go, stay, eat… your highlights . Would follow them religiously… Thanks so much

  • sheila mooney
    September 29, 2017 8:23pm

    now i need a quenelle. those quenelles.

  • Molly Dow
    September 29, 2017 9:15pm

    Most of the photos in this email seemed to either be missing completely or partially. I hope this was just a fluke as I do so enjoy your blog!!

  • September 29, 2017 9:19pm
    David Lebovitz

    Molly: They’re all showing up when I load the site. You may need to reload the page?

    Melanie: I think part of it is that many places aren’t using the right kind of fryer oil, so the fries don’t crisp up. But also, like the other restauranteur told me, there seems to be a preference for less-crisp frites?

    • Sheila
      September 30, 2017 9:13pm

      Usually fries, or any other food, is not crisp enough because the oil is not hot enough.
      Sheila

    • Sheila
      October 1, 2017 1:20am

      What kind of people would want less-crisp, i’e. soggy, fries? Ha!

  • Sheila
    September 29, 2017 9:21pm

    David,
    Just enjoyed your Instagram; it’s wonderful! (Except for vonnienlee who was maddening when trying to read through the comments)

  • Kathleen Mann
    September 29, 2017 11:56pm

    Loved this post, especially as I will be in Paris in 3 weeks. I have learned in Mexico to ask for “bien doraditos, por favor,” so I’m ready for this adventure. Everything looks fantastic. Ahhh, can’t wait, you’ve got my mouth watering already. I admit I’m kind of stuck on my round Paris Brest; the wheel is the point, isn’t it? :-)

  • Diane Roberts/Perth Australia
    September 30, 2017 9:05am

    Always stay on Ile Saint Louis during regular visits. Enjoyed a couple of meals at this restaurant earlier this year. It will be a definitely be a “regular” on future visits. Thanks for the tip on ordering fries. Bien Doreen’s it will be!

  • stuart itter
    September 30, 2017 6:03pm

    Great article David. But, thanks a lot for making me crazy for Paris. Simple steak and frites always a huge magnet by themselves.Everything special about the place. Next up on the coming week’s dinner plans.

  • September 30, 2017 6:37pm

    Your timing is impeccable. We’re here… I just walked up and made a rezzie….Eating here tonight! Thanks for the reco!

  • PF
    September 30, 2017 9:24pm

    Looks lovely! But I think you goofed on their hours. The website says 12:00 noon.

    • October 2, 2017 9:10am
      David Lebovitz

      It looks like they changed their hours. (I don’t usually include opening hours in posts, for that reason.) I updated the post to reflect that. Thanks.

  • Lynn
    October 2, 2017 7:33pm

    Oh yay! We are coming to Paris this week to celebrate our 35th anniversary and this sounds like a perfect place. Thanks David!

  • Lisa B
    October 2, 2017 9:15pm

    The restaurant looks divine, but smallish. For a big group, 6-8 persons, do you think it’s the right place? Our British friend is suggesting La Coupole but is that still good? Any suggestions would be appreciated!

  • Mike
    October 9, 2017 2:06am

    Me is a word.

  • Kriss
    October 13, 2017 2:19pm

    Wow, must be the best looking fries i have ever seen! They look incredible! My Paris Kitchen just arrived (an hour ago), can’t wait to read it this weekend :-)

    P.S.Have they told you how they make the fries? Sounds like a simple task, but good, crispy homemade french fries are not so easy to make. Looks like they put some starch or so on them.

  • RC
    October 22, 2017 9:32pm

    Based on the reviews, we looked forward to our upcoming visit.

    We should have known better when we saw the fruit files near our table and should have left then.

    Still, based on the reviews we persisted. I ordered the duck with dried fruits only to find that the fruits were actually nuts encrusted on the duck. When I asked the water where the dried fruits were he seemed puzzled. He eventually worked out that the “transition wasn’t exact”. I pointed out that the restaurant could kill someone with nut allergies and the waiter made a big show of saying how he would bring this up with management and the translation would be changed the following day.

    More disappointing, however, was the chef – who managed to carry on a conversation in English – blamed the translator for the issue and dismissed the fruit flies.

    Any chef who does not take command of his or her restaurant and its staff is not entitled to wear the mantle of a chef. He or she is, at best or worst, a cook.

    • October 24, 2017 12:12pm
      David Lebovitz

      Sorry you didn’t have a great experience. In French, fruits secs, which literally translates to “dried fruits” actually refers to mixed nuts. I looked for another definition in French and indeed, some mixtures contain actual dried fruits (apricots, pears, raisins, etc) but some of the time, the term is used to describe a mix of nuts.

      I think because the French considered nuts as fruits, but we don’t refer to them that way in English. (There’s a good explanation of the nuts/fruits terminology here.)

  • Barbara Mooradian
    October 26, 2017 2:19pm

    David, I have a fantastic chewy granola bar I adapted from King Arthur Flour’s chewy granola bar recipe, I would be happy to share with you!

1K Shares
Pin272
Share947
Tweet
+1