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By Jonathan Hatchman, Food Editor, @TLE_Food
When it comes to gourmet food, no nation excels quite so well as the French. So what better city than Paris for a food lover’s pilgrimage? The rightful home of the Michelin Star, as well as hundreds of humble patisseries, suave brasseries and cafés, plus some of the greatest produce that’s known to man. In fact, Paris is home to 72 restaurants with one star, 13 with two, and nine with a dramatic three-star rating – that’s a total of a whopping 94 – making Paris a very strong contender for the high-end restaurant capital of the World.
Located upon the first floor of the World famous Eiffel Tower, 57 meters above the ground with sweeping views across the city, the restaurant is – in some sense – a bit of a tourist trap, certainly aimed more towards visitors than towards local natives. Nonetheless, the overall food and experience is considerably better than the restaurants aimed at tourists back at home in our beloved London – this is not the French equivalent of the Hard Rock Café, Planet Hollywood or Bubba Gump. Instead, the menu is very well thought out and the three-course set menu packages are, in fact, quite reasonable. One thing that’s dissimilar to most French restaurants, however, is the amount of urgency that’s squeezed into our short visit. Of course, being located within the city’s biggest tourist attraction, the restaurant is constantly overbooked and, like many of London’s elite restaurants, each booking is for just two hours. This is only just about enough time to race through three courses and a bottle of wine – there’s so much hurry, in fact, that we have to choose our desserts before the bread even arrives.
Taking the old-fashioned lift up to the first floor, we’re soon whisked away to an incredible window-side table. Needless to say the view is incredible, and as a matter of fact the inside décor is sleek and understated, allowing its minimalism to aim a focus on the view across the city. In the kitchen, proceedings are headed up by chef Alain Soulard – having trained under Alain Ducasse – bringing French classics to the table with a streak of modernity. Ranging from €80 for the three-course set menu and a coupe of Champagne on arrival, the starters have evidently been prepared between sittings, most of which are served cold which allows for everything to run smoothly as to not spill into the next sitting of diners.
Gently smoked salmon is presented with true finesse, accompanied by harmoniously complimenting dill and cucumber, a smattering of salmon caviar and a chunk of waffle. The whole composition is pleasing, although the cold waffle does taste a little bit on the shop-bought side of things. My duck foie gras dish (when in France…), on the other hand, is also simply prepared: a generously large slab of pate is joined by a small piece of toasted brioche as well as a cocoa and balsamic glaze, which works surprisingly well.
The mains, on the other hand, are a little more adventurous; the chicken dish is completely lacking the herb stuffing, as insinuated by the menu, but its still satisfactory. The sea bream dish, however, is a real highlight. Surprisingly, the fish is not the actual star of the dish, in fact it’s the spelt risotto. The fish is cooked perfectly, but it’s the accompanying risotto (which seems to use more cream than Le Gavroche’s whole kitchen larder) that’s the most memorable of delights. To finish, a choux pastry tower filled with cream and vanilla ice cream is presented before being doused with a cascade of rich chocolate sauce – it’s a chocolate lover’s dream. My cheese board is acceptable, but having ordered the dish over before it arrives, it would have made sense for the cheese to leave the fridge more than five minutes prior to landing on the plate.
Although the food is reasonable at 58 Tour Eiffel, expectations shouldn’t reach the heights of local gastronomic temples of say Alain Ducasse or Pierre Gagnaire. Nevertheless, the prestige of eating within one of Europe’s most iconic buildings alone is more than enough to cement the experience as a fond, everlasting memory.
58 Tour Eiffel can be found at First floor, Eiffel Tower, Champ de Mars, Paris.