06 February 2011

Chez Dumonet

Read any newspaper or Paris food blog, and you'll hear about how the Parisian bistro is a dying breed but there are many a valiant chef trying to revive the bistro atmosphere.  Frenchie, Châteaubriand, and various other restaurants have gotten rave reviews, and consequently have long waits to get a table.  However, sometimes you just have to go back to tradition to get the good French cuisine of autrefois.  So when I heard about Chez Dumonet-Joséphine and its supposedly "best duck confit of Paris," I was ready and rarin' to go.

You really should reserve for Chez Dumonet.  We tried to go on a Monday night for a second sitting, and it was completely packed.  The chef, who was out talking to his guests, handed us the restaurant's card and told us to reserve next time.  Lesson learned.  I reserved a table for 2, 9:30 PM.  We got there and our table wasn't free yet.  No worries, the kind waiter said.  We could sit at the lovely marble bar and have a drink while our table was being prepared.  The bistro is very well lit, and has a warm feeling to it.  You feel as if you have stepped back into the Paris of Hemmingway and Gertrude Stein.  A time when Paris wasn't yet cluttered with cars and the charm and style of the Belle Epoque reigned supreme.

Chez Dumonet
We were eventually seated by our very meticulous server, and immediately given bread and butter.  However, our server accidentally dropped the butter on the table.  He was a hot mess because of this.  We assured him it was alright, but at Chez Dumonet, perfection is key.  He excused himself, and then brought us some free champagne to make up for the mistake.  While he didn't have to do that, we were more than ok with the free bubbly to sip while we waited to order.

Chez Dumonet has an incredible menu.  There were fresh truffles available, and a whole side of the menu was devoted to dishes that featured the rare black mushroom.  Old style French dishes such as herring with warm dill potato salad, and traditions such as Châteaubriand for two and foie gras tempted us.  But I came for one thing, and one thing only.  The duck confit.

Confit de canard et ses pommes de terre landlaises
 The skin was crispy and glistening with duck fat.  Once it was peeled away, tender dark duck meat was exposed with thyme branches still inside the meat.  When you touched the meat with your fork, it fell off the bone.  I didn't really need the cutting utensil.  The potatoes had chunks of garlic, and were crispy on the outside but moist and somewhat creamy on the inside.  The salad was covered with a shallot vinaigrette.  There were so many amazing flavors in this dish, that it was worth every centime.

Before you order your dinner, you must order dessert.  There were again many choices, but I was told that the Grand Marnier soufflé was to die for.  I don't think I could adequately do this dessert justice with my words.  This dessert could easily be for two.  Covered with just enough powdered sugar to lend a light sweetness, this soufflé had a citrus undertone to it; a mixture of lemon and Grand Marnier.  It is served with a glass of Grand Marnier to boost the flavor.  It absolutely melts in your mouth.

Soufflé au Grand Marnier avec son verre
Chez Dumonet was an excellent experience.  If you are looking for that special Parisian dining experience on your trip, or you just have a hankering for good traditional French food without the mean Parisian servers, it should be on the top of your list.  The prices make it the type of restaurant where you should go for a special occasion if you are on a limited budget.  But this is definitely one of those places where you can feel alright after a splurge.

Chez Dumonet
117, rue du Cherche-Midi
75006 Paris
Closed Saturday and Sunday
Reservations recommended 

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