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)|
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!
4, Place Calvaire
4, Place Calvaire
Tel: 01 46 06 26 29
Metro: AbbessesOpen 7 days a week for lunch and dinner