Meet the Trompiers

Meet the Trompiers

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“The Duke of Windsor had a very special way of eating, he used to sit quite far back from the table and only use his fork. He really enjoyed his food”, recalls Elizabeth Trompier, wife of the legendary Marcel, founder of La Marée the temple for serious fish trenchermen since the 1960’s. “And The Duchess, a wonderful woman, warm, vibrant, always the life and soul of the party”. The elegant wood and stained glass, La Mareé, stands like a beacon at the angle of rues Daru and Neva, right near Salle Pleyel and the Russian Church.
Obviously très discreet, Madame Trompier, a former opera singer, does volunteer the information that President Mitterand dined there weekly, and Jack Lang is still a frequent flyer. Then the well-manicured hand is raised: basta, warbles this delightful woman, full of joie de vivre as she tucks into Belons au champagne followed by croustillant of langoustine. Madame, a perfect example of the “Frenchwomen Don’t Get Fat” syndrome, tucks into her food and there’s not an ounce of fat to be seen. Again Madame is not giving any secrets away: “just enjoy your life and eat lots of fish – preferably at La Maree”, she chuckles.
Since the death of Marcel Trompier in 1984, his son Eric is captain of this cruise-ship-canteen to the rich and famous. The clientele? Think politicians, captains of industry, high maintenance women and celebs, many of whom have signed the Golden Book, watched over by Director Marc Kioska.  “I didn’t ever see myself in this role”, admits Eric. “I had a career far from the restaurant business, in finance, although I always loved gastronomy; I just didn’t want La Marée to fall into wrong hands”, he sighs. Trompier is a multi-lingual economist, a graduate of Oxford (Merton College) and Dusseldorf via New York, London – read the world.
As you can appreciate Trompier fils did not take over La Marée half-heartedly. He took wine tasting courses, then passed his C.A.P. in patisserie at Lycée Ferrandi. Not satisfied with that Trompier worked, under an assumed name, in the dead of night, at a patisserie/bakery on rue Saint-Dominique. Don’t expect to see the ever so elegant Trompier through the tinted glass kitchen windows, cooking your perfect Sole Meunière, he’s discreetly chatting to the clients, posture perfect, Savile Row suit impeccable, Berlutis perfectly shined by the butler. Or he’ll be eating that Sole Meuniere, his favourite dish, very difficult to get right, only he and Gérard Sallé know the knack.
Executive chef Gérard Salle is a fish in the right waters at La Marée, his dark eyes shine like the freshest Troçon de Turbot from Dieppe./admin/story/story/18150/ Self-taught, Sallé’s parcours takes in the Plaza Athénée, Fouquet’s and the Hotel Vendôme, he’s proud to have cooked for the Sultan of Brunei. “Fish is difficult to cook to perfection, I use a minimum of sauce, a little emulsion, let them speak for themselves”, he explains. Salle’s Saint-Pierre is cooked flat, drizzled with olive oil, served without skin on a bed of fresh artichokes. The starter Langoustines poelées aux carottes fondants from St-Guénolé is already a signature dish, so many come back to taste the unique flavour time and time again.
If you must, there’s a bon Filet de Boeuf with a ragout of legumes, and everything can be cooked how you like it, steamed, poached, grilled. For the bouillabaisse, paella, marmite Dieppoise, please let them know 24 hours in advance; they’ll go fishing.
Cheese is from Alleosse and wines can be chosen from about 65,000 bottles, or by the glass, perhaps a nice little Margaux 1996 Chateau La Berlande. It’s worth having a chat with the young sommeliers, Francois Drisé and Amelie Chollet who will talk you through the huge wine list, a triptych, part of the handsome thick parchment menu decorated with the Five Senses, a classic painting from the Flamande School.  Handsome paintings punctuate the room which interior designer Jean-Pierre Hanki has kept in the spirit “grande maison”. Tableware’s by that all time great Hilton McConnico, so now you don’t need to turn the plates over and get out the magnifying glass!
My favourite part of the décor is the wenge wooden wagon transporting patissier Raoul Fernandes’ magnificent farandole of mini-patisseries, Saint-Honoré, Religieuse, Tartes aux citron. Or order Mille-Feuille chaud caramelise aux amandes, Crepes Suzette au Grand Marnier, or Le chocolat “Araguani”. Delish washed down with a glass of Takaji Aszo 6 Puttonnyos from Chateau Sarospatek.
There is no “lunch-menu” it’s not that type of maison darling, but suggestions du jour include Salade de Gambas a la citronelle, Turbotin grille, or Tarte Bourdaloue aux pistaches. To celebrate “40 Years of La Marée” there’s a menu Ladies Lunch, nutritious nosh for the ladies who do. Thus, women Captains of Industry have at La Marée a chic discreet English-type club address, the better to discuss their mergers and acquisitions. This is an ingeniously devised collagen-booster, bearing in mind that caviar is low calorie and contains acetylcholine, which increases the body’s tolerance to alcohol, although the 60€ menu does not include wine and the caviar would be a little extra!  And, as for a little chocolate dessert, at 70% cocoa it dilates blood vessels, protects the body from free-radical damage, and is a rich source of magnesium. Now that’s food for thought!
La Marée,
1 rue Daru, 8th (Metro: Ternes)
T: 01 43 80 20 00
Shut Saturday lunch-Sunday
Club La Maréé membership 300€
From 1 May Lunch Menu Spécial Anniversaire – 40€
Valet Parking
And also:
Le Vieux Bistro,
14 rue du Cloitre Notre Dame, 6th  (Metro: Pont Neuf)
And also:
La Petite Marée,
360 Sursock Street, Ashrafieh Quartier,
T: 00 961 1 204 111.

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Born in Hampton, Middlesex, UK, Margaret Kemp is a lifestyle journalist, based between London, Paris and the world. Intensive cookery courses at The Cordon Bleu, London, a wedding gift from a very astute ex-husband, gave her the base that would take her travelling (leaving the astute one behind) in search of rare food and wine experiences, such as the vineyards of Thailand, 'gator hunting in South Florida, learning to make eye-watering spicy food in Kerala;pasta making in a tiny Tuscany trattoria. She has contributed to The Guardian, The Financial Times Weekend and FT. How To Spend, The Spectator, Condé Nast Traveller, Food & Travel, and Luxos Magazine. She also advises as consultant to luxury hotels and restaurants. Over the years, Kemp has amassed a faithful following on BonjourParis. If she were a dish she'd be Alain Passard's Millefeuille “Caprice d'Enfant”, as a painting: Manet’s Dejeuner sur l’herbe !