Le Collier de la Reine (The Queen’s Necklace) is a strange name for a restaurant, but it can easily be explained by the fact that the Countess de la Motte supposedly lived at the same address as the restaurant. She was the scammer behind the Affair of the Queen’s Necklace – which helped contribute to the unpopularity of Marie-Antoinette in 1785, four years before the French Revolution, even though the queen had been scammed and was blameless.
This new-style brasserie in the Marais attracts today’s royalty – the young, trendy and good-looking – but even those who don’t fit into that category are welcome there, as I can attest. The food, drinks and service make it more than interesting. Some might find the stainless-steel decor in the large restaurant with a big bar a bit sterile, but I thought it was a welcome change, especially since it has a row of booths (for four people each). Who doesn’t love a booth? And, even though music was streaming all evening, the sound levels were more than reasonable and allowed for easy conversation.
A couple of the young, trendy, good-looking people in our group of six ordered cocktails. I tasted the original and excellent Nduj’a, with tequila, peppery nduj’a spices, lime, agave syrup and smoked salt.
The food plays with traditional brasserie dishes, giving them a welcome twist. The oysters – Crénéguy and Camargue no. 3s – we sampled were a big hit. The restaurant also serves shellfish platters with a few unusual touches, but we didn’t try them this time.
I started with the Muscovite poached eggs: perfectly cooked soft-boiled eggs sitting on a wonderfully crunchy, spicy sort of savory cookie and topped with beurre blanc and caviar. Comforting and delicious.
Another starter, white asparagus with savory miso zabaglione, was also exceptional, as was the crudo of red tuna with green kimchi.
For my main course, I had something I’d never seen on a French restaurant menu before: veal schnitzel with a citrusy sauce and a lovely salad of green beans with fennel and gribiche sauce (eggs, mustard, chopped pickles, capers, parsley, chervil and tarragon). The meat was tender and the breading non-greasy. I enjoyed it immensely.
Two of my companions shared the excellent côte de bœuf (prime rib) which came with a dish of delicious grilled romaine lettuce with a spicy sauce.
The caille (quail) with a salad of cherries, red rice, chestnuts and fresh herbs (lots of dill) was another of the delightful main courses.
Instead of dessert, one person ordered the generous cheese plate, which had no fewer than five superb varieties on it, accompanied by an unusual mostarda (candied fruit).
The rest of us shared a few perfectly made millefeuilles with a slight difference: the addition of a touch of wild pepper, just enough to make the classic puff pastry and custard dessert even more interesting.
At the wine bar in the basement, open whenever the restaurant is, you can buy a bottle to go at cost-price and even drink it there at no extra cost if you wish.
I’d go back to Le Collier de la Reine in a minute, especially since the prices are quite reasonable for this level of quality. Applause to the owner, Arnaud Lacombe of the Savoir Vivre group, which also owns the restaurants Vivant 2 and Déviant and the pizzeria Da Graziella.Favorite