La Marlotte

November 11, 2008By Richard HesseArchive

Provincial Comfort in Paris

A quiet, comfy setting for a thoroughly unpretentious taste of classic French cuisine.

It’s been a busy week on the food front – that’s what happens when you have houseguests – with return visits to Ze Kitchen Gallerie and Monjul (see below), and a trip to a new venue in the sixth arrondissement, La Marlotte, a sister restaurant to La Bastide on the Place de l’Odéon.

I think the only thing that was missing at La Marlotte was a log fire, and, oddly (and this is in no sense a putdown), a sense of something special. It was a quiet evening, and the friendly staff took care of us with unhurried skill. There was nothing hugely original or contemporary on the menu, and the decor was relatively understated, almost provincial: warm ocher walls, some shades of darker brown and a few reds, with bistro-style banquette seating and wooden beams. No sense of being crowded, and the dining area split into two very separate areas. Perfect for a comfortable chat with friends.

The menu had something provincial about it too: a moist, flavorsome pâté en croûte whose pastry crust could have been either brioche or shortcrust, but it was none the worse for that. It was served with a couple of jars of chutney-like condiments. A lot of prep had gone into my freshly cooked artichoke hearts, served with half a mozzarella and some grapefruit segments. I complimented our waitress on the combination, and she apologized for the absence of the figs that normally accompany it (they ones they had were too hard) and said it was even better with figs, rolling her eyes with remembered pleasure.

For the main course, we ordered the andouillette (chitterling sausage) made by the famed Hardouin, of Vouvray in the Loire Valley, and the boudin noir (blood sausage). Rich stuff, but genuinely fine products. Given a choice of several side dishes, we chose the frites maison (bad boys!), which were perfectly cooked in excellent fat, without a trace of greasiness. We could have had the daily special, which was half a roast duckling in orange sauce, or the lièvre à la royale, a legendary dish of slow-cooked hare, which I didn’t notice until my order had gone to the kitchen, as its availability was very coyly announced above the bar. There are several fish dishes, too.

Desserts had a slightly Seventies feel about them, with a single large profiterole doused in superb chocolate sauce for my houseguest, and a creditable (but not transcendental) crème caramel for me. Said guest was a bit thrown at there being only one profiterole (one big one), but lapped it up and declared it to be excellent.

Pretty good stuff, and a very worthwhile venue for a relaxed, thoroughly unpretentious taste of classic French cuisine.

For the fancy stuff, you have Ze Kitchen Galerie and Monjul, both of which knocked my socks off again recently.

ZKG has earned a Michelin star since I was last there, and its popularity is audible in the unacceptable noise levels: my date and I could hardly hear ourselves speak. You could simply commune with the superb Asian-touch food wearing earplugs, I suppose.

Monjul continues to do its own unique, amazing value-for-money thing, with very comfortable noise levels, and a maître d’ who has relaxed magnificently into his job, assisted by a charming waitress who matches the beauty of the food.

Richard Hesse

La Marlotte: 55, rue de Cherche Midi, 75006 Paris. Métro: Vaneau or Rennes. Tel.: 01 45 48 86 79. Nearest Vélib stations: 28, rue Saint Placide; 19 rue du Regard. Open daily for lunch and dinner. Lunchtime special: €23. A la carte*: around €40.

* three courses, not including wine

© 2008 Paris Update

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