Every time we dine at Helene Darroze we leave satisfied and looking forward to a prompt return. On our most recent visit to Paris, hers was the only restaurant we visited three times; three times, the meal was fantastic. Her dishes were bold, playful and full of surprises. We found the usual items available at other top tier French restaurants like truffles, scallops, duck and goose foie gras
paired or prepared in unexpected ways or with exotic ingredients. Combinations that in a less experienced and gifted chef might annoy or clash, were vibrant, memorable, and perhaps most important worth repeating. Her style, though elegant and thoroughly French, is novel and packs a culinary punch. We hope it has staying power.
We have tried the short and tasting truffle menus, the seasonal tasting and lunch menus, and a la carte orders. Each one offered a magical culinary tour for the palate. We found the truffle menu to be a particularly good buy for the quality and price.
We take our hats off to Helene Darroze, the 21st century’s lady of French cuisine. Congratulations to Chef Darroze and her talented team for a convivial ambiance, elegant setting, good service, inventive cuisine and an overall excellent dining experience that has kept this Latin Quarter restaurant at the top of our preferred list.
About The Executive Chef
A native of Landes in the southwest of France, chef Darroze is part of a culinary family. The daughter and granddaughter of cooks, she worked with Alain Ducasse in his Monaco restaurant, Louis XV and ran her family’s Villeneuve-de-Marsan restaurant before opening her own restaurant in the City of Lights. “Each season offers something special that enchants and inspires me,” she says on her menus.
Chef De Cuisine Theirry Bonsante
Executive Chef Helene Darroze
Handicapped Access The dining room was on the second floor which we reached via a staircase. The restrooms were downstairs.
Head Sommelier Gilles Moulegneax
Location In the heart of the Latin Quarter (6 arrondissement) in Paris, France
Opened-Renovated Established in Paris in 1999
Owned And Managed Helene Darroze
Pastry Chef Kirk Whittla
Restaurant Manager Christophe Gadisert
Size The upstairs formal dining room could accommodate 65 guests. Downstairs the informal dining room could seat 40.
Type Of Restaurant French with an emphasis on innovative and seasonal cuisine
DÉCor-Ambiance The décor was contemporary and understated. Burgundy wallpaper covered the walls with decorative glass plates peppered throughout. Burgundy and orange tones provided a warm backdrop and contrast to the rich wood floors. The chairs were comfortable.
Cellars Wine And Alcoholic Beverage Selection
In addition to a good selection of wines, we noticed an exceptional Francis Darroze (yes they are related) Bas Armagnac collection. They dated as far back as 1928 and ranged in price from 10 to 83 euros per serving.
Special Menus A three-course Lunch ( 68 euros), a five-course Lunch Truffle (120 euros), Inspiration (150 euros), and Truffle Inspiration (250 euros)
A perennial favorite the truffle menu, Menu Inspiration Autour de la Truffe
, never ceases to amaze us. This season it consisted of Velouté de topinambour au gout d’Iberico de Bellota, tarte feuilletée a la truffe noire du Périgord, moelle de bœuf et topinambour; Foie gras de canard des Landes grillé au feu de bois et truffe noire du Périgord montés en terrine et servis froids, fenouil et pomme verte a la croque au sel; L’escaoutoun landais lié au Vacherin Mont d’Or, truffe noire du Périgord rapée a cru, beurre noisette; Noix de coquille Saint-Jacques de la baie de Seine rôtie dans sa coquille, émulsion de parmesan Reggiano, truffe blanche d’Alba râpée a cru; Ris de veau de lait sous la mère piqué de truffe noire du Périgord e rôti au sautoir, artichauts épineux et tomates confites, jus gouteux
(they were gracious enough substitute sweetmeats at our request) ; Double-coulommier a la truffe noire du Périgord, quelques pissenlits
; and for dessert Crème de mascarpone a la truffe blanche, biscuit cuit a la vapeur, truffe blanche d’Alba rapee a cru, cappuccino de lait d’amande .
We greatly enjoyed the savory Inspiration Autour des Produits du Terroir Aquitain: Tarte d’hui t res spéciales Gillardeau No 2 pris dans une gelée de caviar d’Aquitaine, fine crème de haricots mais du Béarn pour napper le tout; Marinade de noix de coquille Saint-Jacques d’Erquy a la truffe noire du Périgord, cappuccino de chou-fleur; Riz carnaroli acquarello- millésime2005 -, noir et crémeux, blanc de chipiron, chorizo et tomates confites, écume de parmesan Reggiano; Grosse langoustine bretonne rôtie aux épices Tandoori, mousseline de carottes confites aux agrumes de Menton, réduction d’ognoasse a la coriandre fraiche (a favorite) ; Tourte de chapon jaube des Landes au foie gras de canard, pissenlits et chicorées, jus façon salmis and cheese from the southwest of France selected by Marie Quatrehomme, Bernard Antony and Fréderic Minvielle. Dessert was a light and fresh tasting exotic fruit cocktail, “Tamarindo” cocktail de fruits exotiques, tapioca a la nois de coco et gingembre confit, gelée au citron vert, sorbet a l’orange et au fruit de la passion followed by Tiramisu au chocolat Madong, Papouasie Nouvelle Guinée, glace au café Moka.
This year we tried the downstairs tapas Salon for the first time. Although more informal in ambiance and service, many of the dishes available in the upstairs dining room were on the Salon menu. This made it a desirable alternative when the upstairs dining room was full, we had time or budget constraints or just felt like relaxing.
Reservations required Although email communications were unsuccessful, we were able to make reservation by phone easily.
Date Of Most Recent Review
January 2007 2010
Reviewers Article by Elena del Valle
Photos by Gary Cox
Service Staff were attentive, helpful, friendly and patient at reception and in the dining room. Although at times the dining room was full and our water glasses or plates went uncollected longer than usual, the warm attitude more than made up for minor flaws.
Would You Dine There Again-Recommend It? Yes