New Toque at Petrossian’s Paris Restaurant, “Le 144”

by Margaret Kemp

“I’d do anything for caviar, and probably did”
— Henry Kissinger on a visit to Moscow.

Rumor has it that the Petrossian family have caviar on their breakfast table! “Well  we have to keep the quality control and there’s so much to taste”, says Armen a fourth –generation Petrossian, who tasted his first caviar aged three months: no wonder he’s always smiling.

Monsieur Petrossian, tall, handsome, silver haired, is President & CEO of Petrossian, located in France, USA, Dubai, Las Vegas, Sao Paulo, Belgium. His father Mouchegh and uncle Melkoum first introduced Paris to the magic of caviar in the 1920’s assisted by none other than Cesar Ritz. In Paris, “Le 144”  Petrossian’s left bank restaurant, cafe and boutique epicerie, sits majestically on the corner of rue de l’Université and Boulevard Latour Maubourg.

“Petrossian Caviar was never caviar like the others,” sniffs Armen Petrossian.  “It has neither the same taste, nor the same history as our competitors. The  sturgeon eggs undergo a long and delicate process, rigorously controlled, using  secret methods passed from generation to generation. It’s like fine wine, after  selection, maturation and refining, the eggs are treated to restore their flavor and  characteristics. And, do smell it, people forget to use their noses these days!”

The elegant Russian style boutique/ epicerie, also a café for light lunches, quick bites, is a showcase for exiting new products such as the dried caviar-mill grinder “La  Fleur du caviar® guaranteed to add an exclusive crunch to any dishes. In the boutique Madame Petrossian offers generous tastes on bone spoons. “Only  good caviar can be eaten this way, we really prefer clients to taste before they buy”.

Well, if you insist.

A little Baeri (French, from small fish) Alverta White from California. My favorite, big black egg Beluga from Bulgaria, “the fish can weigh up to 900 kilos”, says Madame Petrossian. Then Ossetra, for which Monsieur Petrossian has a preference, a glass of vodka to clean the palate. “Not champagne, it has sugar which may change the taste”, Madame advises.

Under the boutique’s classic glass refrigerated counters, sitting in splendor, smoked fish, rich in Omega 3’s, cured and smoked salmons to take out, eat-in, and original gift ideas such as: Cubes de Caviar, conserved in oil, perfect “en aperitif”. Think Kraft  slices, however Papier Russe are fine leaves of vacuum packed caviar, posh slices

with which to make caviar sandwiches. Luxurious Caviarcream®. as well as tiny pots  of L’Eggxiting® containing Alverta Royal or Alverta Impérial, ideal for travelling.

Clients pop by to see what’s new, there’s a warm friendly club atmosphere to be  found over a glass of vodka, a strong espresso and, of course, a lot of chat about  caviar. “Conversation is the king of any meal”, says Monsieur Petrossian.

Since June 2013, wearing the whites in the newly decorated, marine inspired, first-floor restaurant, is chef Julien Viollet, ex- Jacques Chibois, Grasse. Christian Morisset, Antibes, and Marc Meneau, Vézeley.

“My weekly changing menu is based around classic Petrossian signature products,   “caviar à la louche”, (louche is a ladle) is revived from the 1930’s. For this ceremony  we serve three exceptional seasonal caviars from antique silver gueridons, exactly  as they were presented in old Russia with toast and boiled potatoes”.

Dishes to try are starters of Wild salmon eggs, Buratta Italian soft cheese and  herbs. Poached egg Petrossian, celery foam, caviar Alverta.  Mains could be: Roast Ossetra sturgeon, sweet onion confit topped with Caviar Alverta: Crabe Impérial façon Lobster Roll, celery and Granny Smith apple: Beef tartare, caviar Alverta, soufflé potatoes. Sommelier Ludovic Andre suggests perfect wine pairings.

Exquisite desserts include Le Napoleon: Le Pavlova: La Vatrouchka hot soufflé with fresh cranberry ice cream.

In tandem with the chef, taking care of the restaurant, and Yoom, his own brand neo-bistros, is Mikael Petrossian, Armen’s son. A chartered accountant with a passion  for all things culinary, Mikael’s launched the perfect contrast to Petrossian, go to: Order Sturgeon Ravioli, Chicken Satay and Asian Beer, book ahead, Yoom is hip and happening, packed at lunch and dinner. The caviar does not fall far from the fish!

Le 144, Petrossian Restaurant
144 rue de l’Université, 75007
T : + 33 (1) 44 11 32 32