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I’ve been hearing about the “legendary” Chartier, known for its classic French brasserie atmosphere and rock-bottom prices, for years and that’s what kept me away. I am always wary of anything that carries the “legendary” stamp for fear that I will be disappointed. Located on the gritty Faubourg du Montmartre off the Grand Boulevards in the Paris 9th, Chartier is inside a long passageway with velvet ropes to manage the crowds (they don’t take reservations).
Built in 1896, the restaurant has a palpable old-world grandeur and it fulfilled the wonderful cliché of the lively Paris brasserie with dark wood paneling, long mirrors, high ceilings, and tile floors. There remains a wall of small drawers, which I was later told were used to store the regular diners’ napkins.
We were there at 12:30, smack in the middle of lunch hour and it was surprisingly filled with mostly French diners even though it’s a top attraction in many guidebooks. The entree/starter list had more appealing dishes than the plats/main courses, so I ordered three of them. The vegetable soup with a carrot base served in a metal bowl was just the right thickness and what you would expect of a simple vegetable soup. Pâté de compagne/country pâté was hearty and quite tasty accompanied by crusty bread (the crust was good but the inside was like Wonderbread), cornichons, and strong mustard. Speaking of strong mustard, that’s what was missing from the dressing in the frisée salad with lardons and croutons, which otherwise was crispy and delicious. It didn’t bother me that it wasn’t topped with a poached egg.
My friend had the roasted chicken with frites/fries, and when I asked how it was, she said, “You can’t screw up chicken too much, so that’s why I ordered it.” I tasted her frites and they were crunchy on the outside. A shared dessert was a passable, almost not-worth-the-calories chocolate mousse.
The waiter kindly gave me the paper menu as a keepsake and he wrote our order on the paper tablecloth. When I asked for the bill he wrote and added it up on the tablecloth under our order. The total was a whopping 27.80 euros, which included my three starters, Lynn’s chicken, one dessert, and a half carafe of red wine. The “legendary” Chartier didn’t disappoint and if you are looking for an authentic Paris brasserie experience with simple, honest, straightforward French food at more than reasonable prices, head on down as soon as you can.
7, rue du Faubourg Montmartre, Paris 9th
Métro: Grand Boulevards
Open daily: Lunch 11:30-3PM, Dinner 6PM-10PM…expect a queue, go early if you can
PHOTO CREDIT: ©Richard Nahem, owner of Eye Prefer Paris Tours
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