We arrive at 10am at Gare du Nord, find our way to the hotel by subway, leave our luggage there and hit the city to visit district #9 and #2. This is a very lively neighborhood housing the Opéra Garnier, the Galeries Lafayette, the Olympia Concert Hall, le Passage des Panoramas, the Folies Bergère Cabaret, le Grand Rex Cinéma and much more.Around noon we find ourselves near the Grands Boulevards subway station. The hubs shakes a handful of lunch addresses out of his iPhone. One is rather iconic and has already 116 years on its palmares. Its name also rings a bell because a foodie friend of mine was here just a couple of months ago and was lyric about the place. I take that as a decision then!
Le Bouillon ChartierYou can find Le Bouillon Chartier in a small alleyway on your left when you enter Rue du Faubourg Montmartre, leaving Boulevard Montmartre behind you. Step inside and wait until a waiter brings you to a table. Mind you, this place can be terribly packed so try to be early for lunch. Once you’re seated, enjoy the Belle Époque interior. This used to be a train station! And it is a classified historic building as well. FYI: bouillon here doesn’t mean the clear broth but it is also a definition for a restaurant selling decently priced if not cheap food. Chartier is the family of the brothers who started the business.
Le Bouillon Chartier is known for its classic French cuisine: oeuf dur mayonnaise (hard-boiled egg with mayo, €2,20), charcuterie (€4), paté (terrine de campagne, €3,80), celeriac remoulade (€2,70), foie gras (€7), snails (€6-€14), confit duck (€9,80), choucroute (€10,80), steak tartare (€9)… And there’s also sweet desserts and cheese to finish your meal.
I look at the menu and I feel this one’s going to be a tough nut to crack here at Le Bouillon Chartier. We go for the leeks in vinaigrette sauce (poireaux vinaigrette, €3,50), herring and French potato salad (filet de hareng, pommes à l’huile, €3,80) for starters, sea bass with fennel seeds (bar rôti au fenouil, €13,50) and low-temperature braised lamb with white beans (today’s special offer, €12,50) for mains.And a crispy white wine to wash it all down (€19). The hubs tastes the wine and gives the waiter a thumbs up. Yum! The bottle is kept in an ice bucket on our tiny table. Starters arrive 2 minutes later since they are served cold.
Good, we’re hungry. In comes the leeks: succulently soft and smooth leeks covered with a creamy vinegar sauce made of olive oil, mustard and vinegar.The herring fillet is nicely silky and flaky. The French potato salad consists of cooked waxy potatoes, raw onion, olive oil and a little vinegar. A delicious classic. Good start! We are sitting at a table for 4 and since the cool waiter made us sit opposite to each other the seat next to me is taken by a MIB gentleman. Within 10 minutes the place is packed. The queu outside is growing. The gentleman orders the oven-roasted sea bream with a fresh herb sauce (daurade royale au four sauce vierge, €13,00). It looks finger licking delicious…
Here come our mains within 10 minutes. My sea bass is gorgeous. The perfect size for 1 person. Next to it baked potatoes with chives. The fish is super fresh and perfectly cooked. The fennel seeds give it a pleasant flavor. Fish and fennel seeds, I like that combination. Excellent.The hubs receives a deep plate generously loaded with stewed white beans and slices of lamb. The beans are to die for. Unfortunately the lamb is a tad undercooked though. The waiter clears our table and notices the untouched raw lamb. He offers to bring some extra lamb and beans but we’re pretty stuffed already. Or are we? How about dessert? The sweet desserts look good: choux chantilly (cream puffs filled with whipped cream, €3,10), crème de marron vanillée (chestnut spread with vanilla, €2,80), baba au rhum with whipped cream (€4,60)…
But cheese is what we’re more interested in: blue cheese (bleu d’Auvergne, €2,60), camembert (€2,60), goat’s cheese (€2,60)… The hubs’ most favorite cheese is also available: Pont l’Évêque (€2,60).And I decide on fresh cheese (fromage blanc de campagne, €1,90). This is a soft and rich cheese made of cow’s milk, resembling quark cheese. It comes with a bag of sugar but I eat it plain and simple. Lovely. We’re 45 minutes in and have already finished our lunch for a total of €58,30. The service goes fast in Le Bouillon Chartier. The waiters are like whirlwinds, work hurriedly and strict which you might mistake for arrogance. It is true that as soon as you have finished your meal and drink they will suggest dessert or coffee but if you don’t want any you mostly receive your check within a minute. Eat, pay and go.
But would I go again to Le Bouillon Chartier? Yes sure, the food is more than delicious and the prices are definitely dirt cheap for Paris standards! Just don’t linger.
Le Bouillon Chartier
7 Rue du Faubourg Montmartre