Café Artcurial’s new decor is by Gilles et Boissier.
When I emerged from the Franklin D. Roosevelt Métro station, the first thing I saw in front of me was a Mirage jet fighter being installed in the forecourt of the aptly named …
Pros: Elegant surroundings, gorgeous art and antiques
Cons: A bit noisy when full
When I emerged from the Franklin D. Roosevelt Métro station, the first thing I saw in front of me was a Mirage jet fighter being installed in the forecourt of the aptly named Hôtel Marcel Dassault (as in Dassault Aviation). Welcome to Artcurial, an auction house more generally known for its specialization in contemporary art and design. The last thing you would expect to find here is a designer café discreetly tucked away inside, beyond the nice receptionist.
The space is long, narrow and high and has recently had an elegant makeover in a contemporary vein by designers Gilles et Boissier – just the sort of decor you would expect to find in a place devoted to contemporary design. The grey-beige seating is de rigueur, of course.
This is a good place for meeting up with friends or business acquaintances for a drink anytime from breakfast through to late afternoon tea. Located in one of the smartest bits of town, it’s set right at the beginning of the fashion half-mile of Avenue Montaigne and half-way along the Champs-Elysées, making it a pleasant feeding and watering venue when on your way to somewhere else, or after feasting your eyes on the magnificent pieces going under the hammer at upcoming Artcurial auctions.
The food was perfectly enjoyable in an unchallenging sort of way. We had Chinese-style spring rolls for starters, one batch filled with shrimp, the other with chicken. Our third luncher had foie gras, which was adequate to the occasion. None of this was a stretch for the chef.
This was followed by beef in various forms: a traditional steak tartare, a steak tartare that had been seared before plating, and a bacon cheeseburger. No prizes for guessing who had the cheeseburger: anyone who goes questing after a Holy Grail is, in this world at least, destined never to find it, but to keep on looking. This one, I must say, had a certain pizzazz, and came rare, as requested, although the bacon was too lean and so was dry. But everything else was in its place, right down to the pickles. The fries weren’t bad either, and ketchup and mustard were available.
We shared a single dessert – a slice of well-executed lemon meringue pie – and coffee, as time was getting short and the office called.
The Artcurial café is laidback, off the beaten track, discreet and comfortable. If you are prepared to accept that nothing particularly gastronomical is going on in the kitchen or your plate, and are happy to eat at a round bistro table on lowish seating (two of my pet dislikes, but don’t let that deter you), then you won’t be disappointed by lunch either, especially as the place is good for people-watching, and you are served by young women who would not look out of place on a catwalk during Paris Fashion Week.
Café Artcurial: 7, Rond-Point des Champs Elysées, 75008 Paris. Tel.: 01 53 75 15 22. Métro: Franklin D Roosevelt. Nearest Vélib stations: 2 rue Jean Mermoz or 25 rue Bayard (quite a hike in either case). Open Monday-Saturday, 10am-7pm. Lunch: around €40.
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