07 July 2011

Chez Plumeau

What is it about touristy areas that generally makes them rife with bad food? This seems to be the case in just about any city that I visit, and Paris is no exception. The Place du Tertre, a square right in the heart of Montmartre and behind the Sacre Coeur, is one such area. Filled with souvenir shops, caricature artists, accordion playing musicians and mediocre restaurants that offer diluted, industrial-style versions of French classics...that's the Place du Tertre.

Thankfully, there is one notable exception nestled just behind this tourist madness, right next to the Dali Museum and one of Montmartre's most beautiful vantage points offering a breathtaking view of Paris. That exception, my dear friends, is a hidden jewel of a restaurant called Chez Plumeau. Ever since moving to the 18th arrondissement, this has been one of my favorite spots to take visiting friends or to recommend to people looking for a thoroughly enjoyable and atypical Parisian dining experience. The Gastronomic Nomad, who was visiting from New York the last couple of weeks, was the latest to fall for the charm of this adorable restaurant, which combines a lovely setting, sweet service and delectable, innovative food. Can it get any better?!?!?

Chez Plumeau, which used to be a cabaret, has a gorgeous, tree-lined, shady terrace that provides the perfect respite in hot summer evenings or a refuge on cold nights when it is heated, as well as an indoor dining area (though we have never eaten there). The tabled are painted with sunflowers and adorned with jewel-toned water glasses, adding to the rustic, garden-style charm.

To start things off food-wise, Chez Plumeau has some great entrées. We particularly love and have often ordered the beet carpaccio served with a scoop of basil sorbet, which was the inspiration for my lime-basil sorbet of last summer. Look how gorgeous these beets are! Totally refreshing and different.

I took my high school friend Emily and her husband Toby, who were recently visiting from Austin, to Chez Plumeau, and they opted for and raved about the intriguing entrée of foie gras flecked with Ethiopian coffee and served with a tomato confit and figs. Last week, The Gastronomic Nomad started her meal with escargots in a garlic-butter sauce and was enthralled with it, while Luis loved his tuna tartare.

Foie gras with Ethiopian coffee
Escargots (left) and tuna tartare (right)

In terms of main courses, Chez Plumeau has several options for vegetarians, which as you can imagine is not typical of a French restaurant! I love the brochette of tofu served with quinoa and a vegetable terrine, but I usually order the grande salade végétarienne, which is actually not really a salad at all but rather a platter of all kinds of delicious things, seemingly discordant but perfect together. A little serving of quinoa salad flecked with bell peppers, a brochette of artichokes and peppadew peppers stuffed with goat cheese, another brochette with mini-sandwiches made of pain suedois (Swedish bread - somewhat like a thick pita bread) slathered with tapenade, tomato confit, a brochette of fresh fruit, a mound of herb-topped fromage frais (fresh cheese), a multigrain cracker and very randomly...a spoon of ginger ice cream. It is totally bizarre but totally tasty!

Brochette de tofu
Grande salade végétarienne

For the meat-eaters, there are also several interesting dishes on the menu. The Gastronomic Nomad went for the salmon carpaccio, which was served with a yummy courgette crumble, while Luis enjoyed a perfectly-cooked filet de boeuf (fillet of beef). During their visit, Emily and Toby ordered the roast lamb (set on fire at the table for an extra special effect!) and the magret de canard (duck breast) respectively. Everyone raved about their dishes. And look how how beautifully they were presented!

Salmon carpaccio (left) and filet de boeuf (right)
Roast lamb

Another reason that I love this place is for the rich, varied wine list...with an equal selection of French and foreign wines. Those of you who know France can confirm that there are not many French restaurants here where you can find excellent wines from Australia, South Africa, Chili and the like...but at Chez Plumeau you can! On our visit last week, we enjoyed an excellent sauvignon blanc from New Zealand whose name I've unfortunately forgotten (my first time to taste a wine from NZ!). I also loved the 2008 Le Gamin from Clos des Augustins (in Pic Saint Loup in the Languedoc Roussilon region) that I shared with Emily and Toby during their visit. Made with a mix of Syrah and Grenache grapes, this was the perfect accompaniment for our dinner! It should also be noted that Chez Plumeau is a lovely place to go just for drinks outside of meal times - they have several nice wines by the glass, including a great Sancerre and Pouilly-Fume.

Add to all this wonderful food and wine and beautiful setting some of the best service that I've had in Paris (attentive without being intrustive, cheery without being exagerated) and very reasonsable prices considering the rest...Chez Plumeau is a winner all-around! Whether you're planning a romantic dinner for two, a nice meal with friends or even a solo dining experience, definitely check out this hidden gem of a restaurant. It may be right next to the tourist quagmire but will take you to another world altogether!

Chez Plumeau
4, Place Calvaire
75018 Paris
Tel: 01 46 06 26 29
Metro: Abbesses
Open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner


  1. What a wonderful display of food - I wish I could be in Paris too! About those tourist traps as I call them ... it is really about greed ... restaurant operators just out to make a quick buck at the expense of the tourists ... I have hit that in just about every touristy area I've been on this globe. Pity that the local councils don't enforce some rules that favor the whole tourist experience. But if you think that tourists are ripped off in Paris you havn't yet been to cities like Prague (one of the worst tourist traps I have ever been to ... :)

  2. Looks very interesting and a little eclectic. Those beets look fantastic.
    I hate tourist traps I managed to almost avoid them in Rome last year but I did have a couple of misses.

    I have added this to my Paris bookmarks in the hope that I visit soon. Can you tell me what the price points of this is?

  3. Thank you for sharing your delicious article and photos from Chez Plumeau. We have to put on our "To Eat There" list. We have been several times in Paris and yes sometimes the food and service is oh la la, but overall we always came home happy.
    Have a wonderful Paris summer:)
    Judit & Corina

  4. Looks like my kind of place, if, no, WHEN I get to Paris I will make sure it is on the list, thanks for sharing!

  5. Oh how I miss Paris. Thanks for the beautiful pictures!

  6. nice garden setting and the food looks great too but I have not tried some like the escargots.

  7. Chris - Yikes! We have a long weekend trip planned for Prague in mid-August. Is it really that bad? Do you have any tips to avoid the tourist traps?

    The Culinary Lens - The entrees (starters) are 8-10 euros, main courses 15-20 euros. I'll add this info to the post as well, I forgot about it!

  8. Ah interesting to know - thanks for this! Always looking for nicer places to tell friends to go to around these areas and Place de Tertre is definitely a place I normally avoid when eating but this looks super. Great ambience, too.

  9. Oh those food look so luscious! I wish I live somewhere close :)

  10. Sounds like a real find! Thanks for sharing your secret place with us!

  11. I wish I would have known about this restaurant before I went to Paris last... and I was at a dinner party talking to my friends about my dream of living in Paris... it's in my 5-year plan!

  12. Thank you that is in my price point.. I love finding advice on the web.

  13. Looks like a wonderful restaurant to visit! So many colors and flavors in the food to enjoy!