Granted, “canard et Champagne” (duck and Champagne) are arguably two of France’s greatest gifts to cuisine, but it took some nerve to open a restaurant that sells nothing else. But that is precisely what Jean-François Montfort and partners Jean Valfort and Pierre Dutaret did when they moved into a former chocolatier’s space at 57 Passages des Panoramas in Paris.The moderately priced restaurant immediately shot to the top of Trip Advisor’s Paris listings, coming in at No. 1 in a matter of weeks.
The pricing structure is simple. A starter and a main course are €26 ($29) at dinner and €17.50 ($19.60) at lunch; add a dessert to that for a total of €34 at dinner or €20.50 at lunch. Or you can go with the ultimate prix fixe: €62 ($69) for food and Champagne. Extra brut comes with the starter, a rosé Champagne with the main course, as well as a vintage blanc de blancs. And for those to whom Champagne seems too decadent at lunch, there’s a list of still wines by the glass.
As for the main event, the duck finds its way to the table as an excellent torchon of foie gras as a starter. Or choose between a confit or a sliced breast of duck. You may even be there when the chef, Jason Roman, a Peruvian by birth, creates a duck and mushroom risotto that is, in the words of GM Jean-François, “out of this world.” Not to be missed are the desserts from Boulangerie BO, the Parisian hot spot presided over by baking stars Benoît Gindre et Olivier Haustraete.
Finally, there’s the restaurant itself. Its location is ideal, as Passages des Panoramas has become a real food destination. Amidst the stamp and coin collector boutiques, restaurants are popping up along the length of the historic Passages. And speaking of historic, Canard et Champagne has managed to preserve the exquisite woodwork dating from the time of Francois Marquis, “the chocolatier of Kings” (around 1818) as well as the Cordoba leather ceiling. But into the mix, the partners have added a giant blow-up of one France’s most famous actors: Louis de Funes is seen taking a bow in The Grand Restaurant, which strikes us as the perfect salute to this great place.
Canard et Champagne is open Tuesday to Saturday, noon until midnight. For reservations, call 09 81 83 95 69.