Duck confit is a ubiquitous item on menus of Parisian bistros, and one of those dishes on many visitors’ to-try list, along with escargots, onion soup and macarons. Unfortunately, it often disappoints, being either too soggy or dry and stringy, or worse, salty to the point of being inedible. For a duck confit that is a confirmed winner, I recommend Chez Josephine Dumonet, a well-loved Left Bank bistro whose house made duck confit is the textbook example. The skin is crisp and crackly, but once in your mouth dissolves magically. The meat is salty and moist. The side of pan roasted potatoes is equally addictive, so much so that P swears off carbs for the whole day just so he can enjoy the entire portion of potatoes guilt free.
Not a duck person? Chez Dumonet does most things excellently too. The boeuf bourguignon is absolutely the best I’ve ever eaten, the beef slow cooked in a cast-iron pot to a melt-in-your-mouth consistency, the buttered noodles begging to be soaked in the rich, winey sauce. The pan-fried foie de veau is a dream for organ eaters, a substantial slab of veal liver cooked till just firm, the sweet and slightly tart raspberry sauce balancing the rich, gaminess of the meat. And when the weather gets cooler, I am first in line for a big serving of the meat and beans heavy cassoulet, served like the boeuf bourguignon, in a battered cocotte.
And if you are looking for something more sophisticated, order the Pigeon mille feuille. The pigeon presented in 2 ways, the legs confitted and crispy, the other parts of the bird seared and served still rosy between 3 disks of thinly sliced, golden potatoes. Not cheap at E34 but definitely worth a splurge.
The choices for entrees and desserts are simple. For entrees, get the foie gras, famous in Paris for its generosity and texture, smooth, creamy, unctuous, best on warmed toast points so the large chunks can melt slightly. The terrine campagne in contrast, while having good texture was quite unmemorable in taste.
As for desserts, the towering Grand Marnier souffle at Chez Dumonet is heralded by many diners as one of the best desserts in Paris. It is indeed an impressive sight to see and easily feeds 2, though we did not have quite the exemplary experience. By our own omission, we had forgotten to douse the glass of liquor into the souffle before digging in. By the time we realized our mistake, we had finished half of the bland foil and pouring all the liquor it at that point simply rendered the half eaten souffle too alcoholic and sadly inedible.
Of the other desserts, the Paris-Toulouse was the most special. The creme brulee was quite standard while the mille feuille, like many a mille feuille in the city, suffered from over-refrigeration. But the Paris Toulouse, an oversized donut-shaped choux puff filled with vanilla cream and raspberries, sprinkled with icing sugar and served with a ice-cold pot of red fruit granita was delicious and memorable, and thankfully a light ending to the meal.
Chez Dumonet is by no means a cheap establishment, but it does come with some bells and whistles: a welcome coupe of champagne, a small thimble of soup for the amuse-bouche, charming servers in waistcoats etc. If if you choose conservatively (the duck confit, a demi portion of the foie gras and boeuf bourguignon), you do not necessarily pay too much more than a run of the mill corner bistro. Instead, you are almost guaranteed a gut-bustingly amazing meal. So why are you waiting?
Chez Josephine Dumonet (closed weekends)
117 Rue du Cherche-Midi 75006 Paris