Alexander Lobrano heads to the first floor of the Eiffel Tower for an interesting meal at Madame Brasserie.
I call it the Eiffel Quandary, which is to eat or not to eat during a visit to the famous tower. Well, it depends on what you want from the experience.
Suffice to say that for many people, the views over Paris from the tower are the main draw of dining here. This is why it’s usually necessary to book months in advance for a prime table at Le Jules Verne, the gastronomic restaurant run by Michelin three-star chef Frédéric Anton on the second and highest landing of the tower with the best views. Note that the views here are most glamorous at dinner, when prix-fixe menus are €205 and €245; otherwise, there’s a slightly more affordable three-course €135 lunch menu served from Monday to Friday.
Now there’s a less onerous option if you really want to break bread while admiring this famous old lady’s four sturdy legs, a work of engineering that remains intriguingly legible to everyone who visits it, because you can see exactly how it was bolted together from pieces of iron. The brasserie at the first level of the tower has been renamed Madame Brasserie and is now under the direction of Michelin two-star Thierry Marx.
In its new incarnation, it serves breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner on a daily basis at prices that are pretty reasonable for a major tourist attraction. The food is also what the French would describe as correcte – in other words, of a good if not exalted standard. Marx’s idea was to make this restaurant a showcase for the produce of the Île-de-France, the region in which Paris is located, and this bold locavore statement works pretty well, too, although it might be more appreciated if more amply explained both on the website and by the servers here. Meeting a friend from Sheffield for lunch, the restaurant didn’t have a lot of atmosphere at noon on an overcast day, and this was compounded by distracted staff trying to juggle clients from the first seating and those arriving for the second. It also didn’t help that our table had an unremarkable eastern view of Paris, when the best ones are of the Trocadéro and towards the north.
Things looked up once we were seated, however. Our waiter was smart and attentive, and usefully detailed the scrupulously local and seasonal ‘concept’ of the three-course €69 lunch menu for a table in Coeur Brasserie, or centre of the dining room (rather maddeningly, you pay extra for a good view here – the same lunch menu overlooking the Seine is €95). We tried both of the offered starters, including a pleasant tomato salad with strawberries and smoked fish and grilled octopus (from the Seine, perhaps? Well no, but quite good in any event) with chickpeas and courgettes. Next up, pork loin with baby carrots and Île-de-France quinoa and chicken fillet with spelt risotto and summer vegetables, again pleasant. Both desserts were excellent – a vegan pavlova with red fruit, crushed pralines and elderflower and a soft chocolate cake with cocoa nib custard.
Usefully, bookings are available online and you can also prepay your meal: www.toureiffel.paris
Eiffel Tower, 1st floor, 7th Arrondissement, Paris
Tel. (33) 01 83 77 77 78
From France Today magazine
Lead photo credit : Enjoy incredible views © Victor Bellot
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