Montmartre is home to many, many restaurants, but rare are those that are truly worth eating in. La Traversée, a local favorite for my friends who live in Montmartre, is a bit off the beaten track, but it’s worth the slight detour for its lively ambiance, friendly and attentive service, and creative, shareable small plates.
The decor is simple and cozy, with a small wooden bar, shelves with a few books and bric-a-brac, and festive strings of lights. There are tables on three levels: upstairs, downstairs and in the middle, so that each area has its own atmosphere. The friendly servers easily kept up with all of them.
What did we eat? Many good things. My favorite was one almost never seen on Paris menus: chopped chicken livers (I love them!). Just forget everything you know about this dish, even if your grandmother made it. This was a revelation: roughly chopped livers with kumquat pickles and hazelnuts. Fantastic.
I also loved the haddock croquettes, succulent, not too salty, not at all greasy and served with a creamy yuzu-flavored dipping sauce.
Another dish we tried was potato foam with cancoillotte (a runny French cheese) and smoked almonds. I didn’t really take to this one, but my friends loved it.
The other savory dish was pimientos de Padrón, those fried Spanish green peppers that are showing up on menus all over Paris these days, but here they were dressed up with feta cheese, scallions, honey and wildflowers. It worked beautifully.
The desserts kept up the pace: the brioche perdu (French toast made with brioche) with caramel ice cream, praline and tonka-bean cream was perfection.
The real surprise, however, was the sensible-sounding “fruit” dessert: poached pears with bergamot ice cream, bilberries and black-sesame crumble. A brilliant combination, not sensible at all.
It doesn’t matter where you eat at La Traversée; whether upstairs or downstairs, you’ll have a great time and eat well.