La Tour d'Argent
La Tour d'Argent (English: The Silver Tower) is a historic restaurant in the 5th arrondissement of Paris, France. It is located at 15 Quai de la Tournelle. It has a rating of one star from the Guide Michelin.
The restaurant claims that it was founded in 1582, and that it was frequented by Henri IV, but it offers no documentation to support these or other claims about its history. The Quai de la Tournelle, where the restaurant stands, was not paved until 1650, before which it was "a slope, often flooded and almost always made inaccessible by mud".
The restaurant does not appear in an 1824 list of "The principal restaurants, who are distinguished by the elegance of the decoration of their salons and by the number and the care taken with the dishes found there...". In 1852, a metals dealer occupied number 15 Quai de la Tournelle, and a hairdresser and wood dealer number 17.
Baedeker's 1860 guide to Paris describes the establishment's current location as "out of the way", while mentioning a restaurant associated with a low-cost "Hotel of the Tour d'Argent": "Between Notre Dame and the jardin des Plantes, on the Quai de la Tournelle, facing the bridge of this name, there is a little hotel and the restaurant Lecoq; Hôtel de la Tour d'argent, a bit out of the way, it is true, but well kept and cheap (room, 2 francs, beefsteak, 1 franc). Facing a swimming school, which has the advantage of not yet being encumbered and imprisoned by all the filth of Paris."
The restaurant was owned in the 1890s and 1900s by Frédéric Delair, who began the tradition of presenting a numbered certificate to each person who ate the restaurant's signature dish, pressed duck. A dinner was held there for the Wright Brothers in 1906. In 1912, the Terrail family bought the restaurant. It was operated first by André Terrail, then by his son Claude, who died in 2006 at the age of 88, and then by Claude's son André.
In 1984, a branch was opened in Tokyo, in the Hotel New Otani.
Duck, especially the pressed duck, is the speciality (Canard à la presse, Caneton à la presse, Caneton Tour d'Argent, and recently renamed “Caneton de Frédéric Delair”). The restaurant raises its ducks on its own farm. Diners who order the duck receive a postcard with the bird's serial number, now well over 1 million. (Serial number #112,151 went to U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, #203,728 went to Marlene Dietrich, and #253,652 went to Charlie Chaplin).
The restaurant's wine cellar, guarded around the clock, contains more than 450,000 bottles whose value was estimated in 2009 at 25 million euros (£22.5 million). Some 15,000 wines are offered to diners on a 400-page list. The dining room has an excellent view of the river Seine and Notre Dame.
In A Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemingway says that the Tour d'Argent rented some rooms and gave its lodgers discounts on the meals; also that a valet there used to sell English books left by the tenants.
Marcel Proust mentions the restaurant three times in his novel À la recherche du temps perdu (In Search of Lost Time). For example, the haughty Mme Verdurin sniffs "The Tour d'Argent is not nearly as good as they make out".
Four episodes of Fuji TV's Iron Chef had chefs from the Paris and Tokyo branches as challengers. From the Paris branch, Bernard Leprince faced Iron Chef Japanese Komei Nakamura twice, with either chef winning once (Leprince won the initial meeting on the French Special at Chateau de Brissac with salmon as the theme, while Nakamura won the rematch in Tokyo with duck as the theme). Meanwhile, from the Tokyo branch, Tadaaki Shimizu bested Iron Chef French Hiroyuki Sakai with lobster as the theme, while Dominique Corby was the 300th challenger and battled Iron Chef Chinese Chen Kenichi to a draw with foie gras as the regulation theme and asparagus as the overtime theme.
One episode of Root into Europe (British comedy starring George Cole) was filmed in the hotel, and the duck being pressed is shown and served to the actors. Claude Terrail appeared as himself.
The restaurant was visited in the Paris episode of Remarkable Places to Eat (presented by Fred Sirieix, with Michel Roux Jr. as the guide), featuring the duck being pressed at their table, and a visit to the wine cellar.
- "La Tour d'Argent". ViaMichelin. Retrieved 10 June 2015.
- La Tour d'Argent: Accueil>Histoire, retrieved 2 May 2011
- Hurtaut, Pierre-Thomas-Nicolas (1779), Dictionnaire Historique De La Ville De Paris Et De Ses Environs By Pierre-Thomas-Nicolas Hurtaut, retrieved 2 May 2013
- The restaurants listed are:
- Beauvilliers , rue Richelieu, 26.
- Bombarda , rue Rivoli, 10.
- Champeaux, rue des Filles Saint-Thomas, 13.
- Gonpy , boulevard du Temple , 36.
- Hardy, boulevard des Italiens, 12.
- Grignon, rue Neuve des-petits-Champs, 4.
- Nicolle, boulevard des Italiens, 11.
- Rosset, rue de Mondovi, 1, au coin de la rue Rivoli.
- Very, Palais-Royal, 83.
- Au Cadran bien , boulevard du Temple, 27.
- Au Rocher de Cancale, rue Montorgneil, 61.
- Les Trois frères provenceaux, Palais-Royal, 98.
- Au Veau qui tette, place du Châtelet.
- Annuaire général du commerce, de l'industrie, de la magistrature et de l'administration: ou almanach des 500.000 adresses de Paris, des départements et des pays étrangers 279, 447, 217, retrieved 2 October 2013
- "Entre Notre-Dame et le jardin des Plantes, au quai de la Tournelle, vis-à-vis du pont de ce nom (pi. H, 7), il y a le petit hôtel et restaurant Lecoq; Hôtel de la Tour d'argent, un peu éloigné, il est vrai, mais bien tenu et bon marché (chambre, 2 fr., beefsteak, 1 fr.). En face d'une école de natation, qui a l'avantage de ne pas être encore encombrée et emprisonnée par toutes les ordures de Paris." Baedeker, Karl (1860), Paris, Guide pratique du voyageur By Karl Baedeker, retrieved 2 May 2011
- McCullough, David, The Wright Brothers, pg. 148
- Prial, Frank J. (7 June 2006). "Claude Terrail, 88, Model of a Restaurateur, Dies". The New York Times. Retrieved 7 December 2009.
- Tour d'Argent Tokyo - History
- "La Tour d'Argent". Wine Spectator. 1 January 2015. Retrieved 19 August 2015.
-  Tour d'Argent signature dish name change
- Prial, Frank J. (14 June 2006). "Paris Landmark Has Much Experience in Carrying On". The New York Times. Retrieved 7 December 2009.
- "Paris restaurant auctions wine from famed cellar". BBC News. 7 December 2009. Retrieved 7 December 2009.
- Samuel, Henry (7 December 2009). "Tour d'Argent holds one of France's largest ever wine auctions". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 7 December 2009.
- Hemingway, Ernest (2014) . Moveable Feast: The Restored Edition. ISBN 9781476770420. Retrieved 27 June 2015.
- Proust (2003). In Search of Lost Time, Vol. IV, Sodom and Gomorrah. Translated by Moncrieff; Kilmartin. Random House. p. 448.
- "Travel spotlight". The Economist. Archived from the original on 29 June 2007. Retrieved 27 September 2007.
- "Remarkable Places to Eat". BBC Two. Retrieved 1 August 2019.
- La Tour d'Argent official homepage
- Step-by-step illustrated pressed duck at La Tour d'Argent
- Tour d'argent in million-euro wine sale, Radio France Internationale in English