Le Violon d’ Ingres

violondingresFor foreigners the name Christian Constant may, at first sight, not bring many memories, but in the French gastronomy “scene” the picture is different, Chef Constant passed by Ritz and Crillon’s kitchens, where he assured two stars for more than 10 years, until in 1996 he decided to change his life and open his first restaurant, Le Violon d’Ingres.

Nowdays there are 6 restaurants, 4 of them in Saint-Dominique street in Paris, two steps away from the Eiffel Tower, another in Toulouse and another one in Montech. Famous for his participation as judge in the French edition of Top Chef, the great mark of Constant in gastronomy is education, some of his disciples from Crillon are becoming, nowadays, the main references of French gastronomy, like Eric Fréchon (3 stars), Emmanuel Renaut (3 stars), Jean-François Piège (2 stars), Jean-François Rouquette (1 star), Yves Camdeborde or Christian  Etchebest, just to name a few!

violondingres-7But on to the restaurant that brought us here, Le Violon D’Ingres that after a reformulation in 2014, a new decoration and culinary record, kept the famous red guide star, with a cuisine made of history and classics from Constant’s menu.

We were kindly welcomed, as usual in Paris, and forwarded to our table, the room is a bit off the michelin record, more close to a new Bistrò, with small and close tables, and an agitated ambiance mixing clients with tourists, and fans of the chef.

A bit of small talk with the Room chef and between suggestions we find out the responsible chef in the restaurant is Portuguese, namely João Duarte, a young man from Santarém whose passion took him to Le Cordon Bleu Paris,  city he then never left!

violondingres-4Amuse bouche

To start, some unlikely, but delicate and tasty radishes, a toast with a foie tureen and neat’s tongue, besides the usual butter and a delicious artisanal sourdough bread. Accompanying, a light champagne, nicely fresh and light body, ideal to the start of a long dinner – Mallard Blanc des Blanc.

violondingres-5Breaded eggs, truffled butter toasts
Certainly you can’t fail when mixing eggs, butter and truffle, maybe that’s why this is one of the classics of Christian Constant’s career. However, nowadays it became a dish with no interest, the breaded egg had flaws and the toasts not quite crunchy. Nice matchings but graceless.

violondingres-6Crayfish Ravioli, artichoke mousseline and lobster coulis
If on the first starter we where a few levels below, here everything changed, thin pastry, perfectly cooked, excellent texture and sea flavors combo, with the earth notes from the artichoke giving body and another dimension to the dish. Very, very good!

Harmonizing with the starters was a New Zealand wine, a Riesling 2002 from Waipara West, with a great quality/price ratio and quite close to the aged rieslings from Australia, with tasty butter and toast  notes, refreshed by the citrus side. A nice surprise!

violondingres-9Sea Bass Supreme, almond crunchy crust, curry oil and peppers
Another classic of the menu, understandably so! Excellent crust, fish on point and very well balanced flavors among the pepper, capers and the spicy notes of the sauce. Nice dish!

In the glass a great Mas Neuf Costieres of Nimes Compostelle from 2013.

violondingres-8Pidgeon, shallots, fava beans, and French peas 
A dish reminding other times cuisine, a big dose, juicy pidgeon, nicely paired with the sweet notes of the carrot puree and the combo of fava beans and peas. The freshness taken care of by the parsely and shallots.

Along was a super interesting Cabernet Sauvignon Château Montus 2008 from the Pyrenees.

violondingres-10Cheese selection by Marie-Anne Cantin
When the name of Marie-Anne Cantin appears in a menu, you know quality is assured and here, obviously was no exception, Camembert, Fourme d’Ambert, Saint-Nectaire and Salers. All of great quality, but the camembert, mon dieu! It will not be easy to forget!

Harmonizing, a small provocation to our Port, a Maydie Vintage Tannat of Château d’audie. Made by the same process of a Port wine, this one is a small production with Tannat grapes, revealing sweet and rich, nicely balanced between the acidity and the jam.

violondingres-11Grand Marnier Soufflé
In the dessert field it’s impossible not to perform with the French pastry classics, like this soufflé. Flawless technique and distinguished flavor. And to top it up the interior of the soufflé has a delicious salty caramel. Very good!

violondingres-12Mille Feuille 
The picture says it all – sin, sin, sin! Excellent and crunchy puff pastry with a voluminous but light créme légère, vanilla flavored. A crime that pays off!

Accompanying the desserts, two habitués of the French sweet wines, a Sauternes 2011 of Château du Haut Pick and the Juraçon 2015 of Domaine Cauhapé.

High score to the service, much in particular of the sommelier, not only for the harmonizations but also for the relaxed but professional way he approached us in the several moments of dinner, getting the client closer to the experience and breaking the barriers so many times imposed by the classic French service.

violondingres-13João Duarte and the sommelier with the Tawny Graham’s 30 years

Having a bit of Portuguese accent in the team, with the presence of Chef João Duarte, nothing like gifting the entire brigade with an elegant and memorable Port Wine, in this case the Graham’s Tawny 30 years that travelled with us to Paris.

Final Remarks
Those who visit Violon D’Ingres are not seeking for innovation, creativity or different sensations; but tradition, ingredients and flavor, in a quite Parisian ambiance, a bit informal, and of course the name Christian Constant also helps.

With some highs and lows, the flavors and quality of the produce are a condition that make of this Violon D’Ingres a more than secure bet to those wanting to know and taste some great classics of the French cuisine.

Ps – In a next visit we have to taste the famous Cassoulet of Chef Constant.

Le Violon D’Ingres
(33) 1 45 55 15 05
Rua Saint-Dominique, 135  – Paris

Versão Portuguesa

 Text: João Oliveira | Photos: Flavors & Senses 

We were at Violon D’Ingres by invitation, whereas this not alter our work, being the opinion and the text of the exclusive responsibility of the author.
Graham’s 30 years kindly provided by Graham’s Port.

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  • By Paris – Le Violon D’Ingres * on November 26, 2016 at 7:43 pm

    […]  English Version […]

  • By Les Fables de la Fontaine on December 5, 2016 at 3:19 pm

    […] – in 2005 he put the restaurant in the hands of the director of Violon d’Ingres (see), David Bottreau, who quickly conquered a star in the famous red […]

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