France: Bouillon Chartier
We gave ourselves just enough time to set down our luggage in our AirBnb flat in Paris before we hit in streets in search of dinner. Bouillon Chartier was the closest place that had been recommended by friends:
There was a long line outside, but that didn't faze us one bit. We were, however, stunned when we entered the front door and saw that the entire restaurant was teeming with people. I don't think I've been in a restaurant where there were so many packed tables so packed together. Holy moly.
We were even more surprised when we discovered that there was a second floor that was just as crammed full as the first. We barely managed to squeeze our way to a little table in the back.
It was our first meal in Paris and we were so excited. We could tell the food was going to be good because we were surrounded by honest to God French people. Not a single tourist in sight.
My sister found wifi access and we started working on translating the French menu into English the best we could with the help of an online translator.
The garcon was a trifle impatient as we struggled through ordering in half French and half English. Turns out his English was flawless. We expected the impatience (especially in a restaurant as busy as Bouillon Chartier), but things abruptly went south when he discovered that we were only ordering 2 entrees between the 4 of us. It didn't matter to him that we also ordered 3 appetizers.
He said, "Only 2?" in a horridly nasty tone and then huffed away only to return a few minutes later to throw an extra set of utensils onto our table. Not a careless toss. Oh no. He actually threw it.
We were so taken aback by his attitude that we just stared at each other in shock. The garcon's mood didn't improve when he started bringing the food.
First there was the escargot:
Then the mushrooms:
And the bloc de foie gras de canard (duck fois gras):
For our entrees, we ordered the côte d'agneau grillée (grilled lamb) with frites (fries):
Before he got all surly, the garcon recommended the pavé de rumsteack grillé (grilled rumpsteak), which also came with fries:
The food came out super fast. We were still trying to process what had happened with the garcon when suddenly he was back with all the dishes. The food was all lukewarm, which led us to speculate over whether the kitchen just made batches of each dish and left them out until someone ordered it. (As we spent more time in Paris, we came to realize that getting piping hot food is actually not the norm.)
The food wasn't bad and the prices were so reasonable that we couldn't believe it. We'd thought that Paris would be more expensive than London. Bouillon Chartier taught us that was simply not true.
What could have been a great experience was soured by one garcon. We quietly ate as quickly as we could. We were originally planning on getting dessert, but we quickly nixed that idea. We really just wanted to get out of there as soon as possible.
Despite our less than happy experience at Bouillon Chartier, I would still recommend people to go there. It's a great intro to French cuisine in Paris and it's so damn affordable.
Just make sure everyone in your party orders their own entree. Apparently the French aren't big on sharing. (Everyone at the tables around us all ordered their own appetizers, entrees, and desserts.)
7 Rue du Faubourg Montmartre
75009 Paris, France
+33 1 47 70 86 29