Monday, June 21, 2010

Eating in Paris: Chartier

I'll give it to you straight. You won't come here for the food. Chances are you won't even remember what you ate later. You will, however, remember almost everything else about this fabulous Belle-Epoque eatery: the line outside (which moves very quickly), the time capsulish d├ęcor, the bustling wait staff, and the extensive, if unremarkable, menu of correctly done -- and cheap -- French classics.

The crowd is eclectic, the noise level high and the wait staff can be grouchy or hilariously funny. They are all very competent, whether bearing huge heavy laden trays up stairs, juggling customers or adding up long columns of figures in pencil on the tablecloth.

After we were seated at a small table by the kitchen entrance, much to our disappointment, the waiter sidled over and, in French, said two of his out of town regulars who always sat at this table, wanted to know if we would trade places. Pas de problem! After much smiling and nodding, shaking of hands and raised wine glasses across a crowded room, the table swap was made much to everyone's satisfaction, especially the waiter, who as a reward for our cooperation turned into the Most Charming and Attentive Waiter Ever.

I left there humming. Like Amelie, I just love making people happy. While the food isn't the best in Paris -- the shrimp were a little rubbery, the hamburger steak bland --the duck confit and the accompanying potatoes were quite tasty. And it's hard to beat that atmosphere.

Oh, and did I mention this restaurant is featured briefly in a scene in one of my very favorite French movies, "A Very Long Engagement?" (click here for film trailer) Look for it about midway through in one of Jodie Foster's scenes. Even though it's set during World War I, this is still one of those movies you'll want to see before going to Paris.

7 Rue du Faubourg Montmartre75009 Paris, France

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