Le Petit Canard

Duck, Duck, No Goose

November 22, 2011By Nick HammondArchive
le-petit-canard-restaurant-paris, smoked magret de canard, duck breast, and avocado salad.
The smoked magret de canard and avocado salad.

Click here for a more recent review of this restaurant.

A recent survey reported that the current favorite dish of the French is magret de canard, which came as a surprise to me, as it is served relatively rarely in Parisian restaurants these days. Perhaps this reflects a difference between Parisian and provincial tastes, something that snobbish Parisians have been saying for centuries. However, I decided to take this French love for duck very seriously by going with two visiting friends to the all-duck restaurant Le Petit Canard in the ninth arrondissement, and what a good idea it turned out to be.

Somewhat predictably, there are cute ducks all over the restaurant, even in the washroom, where you will not only find a copy of a book about the French satirical magazine Le Canard Enchaîné but also, less predictably, a guitar and a blackboard on which customers can write their comments. The unpretentious plastic tablecloths in the restaurant itself are typical of the friendly, unfussy ambiance of the place. And, boy, do they know how to cook duck! The restaurant owner, who proudly showed us a photo of himself on the wall from his younger days (barely recognizable, it must be said; we had to study the shape of the nose in the photo to ascertain whether he was joking or not), is of Corsican parentage, but all the duck is sourced from the farm owned by his sister and brother-in-law, not in the southwest, as one might expect, but in Haute-Savoie. The quality of the meat really shows.

In the interests of studying the full spread of food on offer, my dining companions and I resolved to order different dishes and share them. I chose the carpaccio of avocado with smoked magret. The avocado was somewhat under-ripe, but the magret was mouthwateringly delicious.

My companions opted for the crème de foie de canard (duck liver mousse), charmingly (if you’re not a canard yourself) shaped into the figure of a duck and suitably creamy, and the beautifully rich and filling foie gras soup.

For our main courses, Frances went for the classic confit de canard (perfectly crispy) and Paul a great hunk of magret (a little bloody for his taste, but tender and flavorsome).

I was very happy to have plumped for the duck in mushroom sauce, the highlight of my meal, with the sauce bringing out the succulence of the meat.

To maintain some sort of loyalty to official duck country, we chose a very acceptable Tour des Gendres Bergerac red, which went well with all the dishes.

As there was no duck on the dessert menu, Paul chose the Rum Baba, gorgeously rounded off with the flavor of stem ginger and orange rind, which Frances and I merrily helped him with. We all (slurringly) agreed that it was the most alcoholic dessert we had ever tasted.

I note that Le Petit Canard has been receiving rave reviews on various Web sites, and I am only too pleased to add to that number. You’d be quackers not to try it (sorry, had to get at least one bad duck pun in here).

Nick Hammond

Le Petit Canard: 19, rue Henry Monnier, 75009 Paris. Métro: Pigalle or Saint-Georges. Tel.: 01 49 70 07 95. Open Monday-Friday for lunch, daily for dinner. A la carte: around €40. www.resto-lepetitcanard.com

Reader Mimi Taylor writes: “I’m surprised you haven’t seen duck on the menus. It’s a dish I usually order.”

Reader Michael Barker writes: “I am surprised to read the observation that magret de canard is rarely served in Parisian restaurants these days. My own experience is that it has become a widespread convention which, on limited daily menu choices, is rather a bore to meet time and time again. One longs for more adventure.”

Writer Nick Hammond responds: “Many thanks for these observations. Perhaps I should have said that self-consciously traditional restaurants in Paris do still serve magret de canard, often in an attempt to seduce those tourists who want an olde worlde Parisian experience, but most (just as self-consciously) modern restaurants tend not to serve it!”


© 2011 Paris Update


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