Friday, April 13, 2012

Cheap Eats - Chartier

One day in February, some British friends staying in Paris told me about a cheap but very Parisian restaurant they'd been to: Chartier. They said the food was decent and, above all, incredibly inexpensive. Shortly thereafter, I saw a post on Girls' Guide to Paris about Chartier as well. A few weeks later, when I began this very blog and asked my cheap-o Frenchie friends for suggestions, I got more than one recommend for, whattaya know, Chartier. "Hmm," I thought, "I'd better check this place out."

Tucked into a nook just off of Grands Boulevards in the 9e arrondissement, Chartier inhabits a former train station concourse and was originally called "Le Bouillon." Patrons wait for their table in the lovely courtyard outside and, in busy times, the line spills out to the Rue du Faubourg-Montmartre, left to gaze at neighborhood passers-by and the bright red neon sign boasting Chartier's residence.

Diners are usually seated either at a shared table or in very close quarters to other patrons, which has the potential of being annoying but if you're settled in to the boisterous and lively atmosphere that the vast, open space provides, it's actually a rather charming experience to overhear or even join in on your neighbor's conversation (French if you can)!

As my English friends remarked, the food is good but not great. I'm kind of a snobby eater though, and even if I wasn't blown away by my tomato salad appetizer, over the course of the meal (and the bottle of wine I shared with my friend), I grew more appreciative of the classic Parisian food supplied to us, including a steak and a fantastic plate of French fries.

The Baba Au Rhum, Chartier's most famous dessert, was the perfect way to end our meal - with just enough rum, and sitting beside a pile of chantilly, the cake was moist and sweet enough to satisfy my red meated-out sweet tooth.

All orders and the final bill were written on our paper tablecloth by our exceedingly friendly waiter (just in case you were afraid there were no such thing in Paris), and when I looked at the total I gasped out loud: our two appetizers, two entrées, two desserts and a bottle of wine came out to a grand total of just 49€. A full dinner out at a historical Parisian restaurant just does not come cheaper than that.

7 Rue du Faubourg-Montmartre 75009 Paris
Métro: M8 or M9 to Grands Boulevards

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