Le Duc

Having just landed in Paris, still without a lunch reservation for Saturday, the choice was easy – trying to get a table at Le Duc, since we were already very convinced by our dear Aiste’s (Luxeat) recommendations and praises for a long time now.

A call from our concierge, and 10 minutes of Uber after, we were standing outside a gastronomic institution, open in 1967 by the Minchelli brothers, nothing or few changed since then (and in this case, that is a very positive point). Let’s see, the Le Duc was one of the first restaurants to exclusively dedicate itself to sea produce, and in the birth of the Nouvelle Cuisine, these brothers revolutionized the way of cooking and serving fish, saving it from diving in thick and heavy sauces, and from being overcooked. Probably also the first to put up raw fish in the city.

The decoration, idealized by Slavik (the Lázaro Violán of the Parisian restaurants from the 70’s), takes us to a classic luxury yacht, a weird way to make us travel to the golden years of the south coast of France.

If the interior can be considered oldfashioned, it also gives it enchantment, when you walk through the door you feel you’re really experiencing Paris, as a good and refined Parisian would. And that’s what you get at the table, surrounded by usual clients, from the French political and high society scene, the majority almost retired, and few tourists, bless the guides that so often forget to honor the true temples of the haute cuisine! Yes, because haute cuisine is also subtlety, care, and super high quality product, as it was presented to us here during our visit.

Warm periwinkles as appetizers

We were readily welcomed and soon announced in a seafood restaurant with freshly cooked periwinkles, full of flavor and perfectly cooked, a good omen for the following dishes. Then, mandatory being in Paris and in a classic restaurant, the bread, and the butter; pressed butter with the name of the restaurant, by the books, and a great bread to go with it, making it hard to concentrate in reading the menu.

We ended up opting for the lunch menu (55€: two starters, a main and a dessert), revealing a good option, even if I ended up flirting with the crawfish from the table next to us – another good reason to come back.

Seabass and Salmon Tartar
Plated in a small silver bowl, the tartar was even more precious than the piece it was served in. Perfect cuts, super high quality fish and good seasoning. Simply a perfect dish, I could easily eat everyday and not get tired!

Salmon au naturel 
A carpaccio of Scotish salmon, simply sprinkled with a dash of olive oil and capers. Rich, unctuous, and full of flavor, showing what can and should be a true salmon.

Oysters  
Slightly cooked oysters until open and warm, with a buttery and fresh sauce, and flawless flavor. Product, product, product!

Fried squid
Perfection can be as simple as these little squids, brilliantly fried, crunchy, and with a light kick of spice from the espelette pepper, contrasting nicely with the acidity and the freshness of the lemon. Addictive!

 Surmullets and Seabass with lime
Followed some great surmullets, which looked a bit overcooked but when tasted they were immaculate, allowing us to taste their unique flavor, which makes me like this fish so much.

The seabass dish is one of the classics at Le Duc, with thin fillets of seabass being cooked in the hot plate and combined with a light butter and lime juice sauce.

Two great dishes, very well paired with a black rice of excellent flavor and celery gratin, which texture and flavor revealed as a nice surprise.

Baba au Rhum
The time came to choose a dessert, and the famous dessert cart arriving at the table made us think a bit more than needed about the options. In a Parisian classic like Le Duc, the Baba au Rhum was mandatory. A generous slice and nicely drizzled – the bottle stays on the table in case you didn’t use enough! High score to the texture and flavor, with an excellent whipped cream.

And yes, my alcohol levels went past the recommended after the dessert!

And speaking of alcohol, the wine list follows the excellence of the menu (and the prices!) where there’s room for the great French wines, especially from Burgundy, pairing perfectly with the cuisine and the refined products. We went for a Roully 1er cru of Olivier Leflaive from 2013 (50€), that kept up to the dishes tasted.

The service is also classic and refined by the years of experience, where the younger elements were certainly well taught by the previous generations.

The always delicate petit four to end the meal 

Final Remarks
Le Duc is one of those restaurants that stays off the spotlights and the media, there’s not a celebrity running it, and it doesn’t direct the majority of its budget to public relations or marketing. The scheme here is pleasing the clients, the majority being usuals, presenting them the best products in the market, simply and purely prepared, enhancing all their features, as the Minchelli did in the past, and nowadays, chefs all around the world recreate, even not knowing who was behind the creation of the method, in reality, more of a philosophy.

Nowadays the kitchen is in the hands of Pascal Hélard, who continues to draw the future with all the emphasis in the produce and an aesthetic simplicity so refined it looks like a Japanese master runs the place. Surely one of the best fish restaurants around the city, and one of those spaces you go to as a shelter, where tradition remains still and the product is the hero!

Now, we must return one day!

Le Duc
Average price: 100€ per guest without wines (lunch menu: 55€)
Boulevard Raspail, 243 – Paris
+33 1 43 20 96 30 

Versão Portuguesa

Photos: Flavors & Senses

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