Le Café qui Parle

June 23, 2009By Richard HesseArchive
Le Café qui Parle, Paris, restaurant

Le Café qui Parle is worth a trek to the far side of the Butte Montmartre.


Pros: Original dishes made with good quality ingredients; nice decor; great staff; outdoor seating available.

Cons: Might be a bit noisy with a full house; a good hike from the nearest metro station.

A bit of paper that fell out of a pile of other papers I was moving the other day turned out to be a clipping from a free newspaper with a short review of the quirkily named Café qui Parle, located on the wrong side of Montmartre.

A trip over the hill proved that the review was spot-on in its insistence on the originality of chef Damien’s food pairings, but it didn’t mention his wine list, which hits all the right organic and biodynamic buttons. Catherine and Pierre Breton figure prominently, and their coach-built 2006 Bourgueil Clos Sénéchal for €32 saw us through the entire meal. Damien and his partner Catherine (they seem to be universally known by their first names) buy through wine merchant Quincave (17, rue Bréa, 75006), which has been on my to-do list for a while, ever since the nice waiter at Les Côtelettes told me they sell Catherine Breton’s scrumptious La Dilettante Vouvray sparkler.

I wowed my date by rattling off what we had eaten into the voice recorder on my recently upgraded iPhone, but no voice memo did I find today, which is annoying. The superb mVoice software that I had downloaded from the app store has stopped working for some reason, so you won’t be getting a detailed list of what we ate.

Chef Damien is superb with vegetables, and you can take your vegetarian friends to Café qui Parle without trepidation, as most of our meal would have suited one of that persuasion. My date started with a dish of just-cooked seasonal vegetables jazzed up with herbs and spices – think asparagus, fennel, snap peas and more. I opted for the lovely, melting mi-cuit foie gras made with a hint of juniper berries.

A risotto made with carnaroli rice followed, with more picture-perfect green asparagus. It was certainly the best risotto I’ve had this side of Venice. The chef had made judicious use of preserved lemon and a soupçon of poutargue (dried salted fish roe). See what I mean about original?

Fish is also one of Damien’s star turns, but he had run out, so I had the €16 daily special, which was a fricassee of chanterelles and baby fava/broad beans, perfect for a warm summer’s evening and, as an added bonus, lovely to look at.

The desserts were stunning, too. One was a “pudding” with real whipped cream (sufficiently rare in restaurants to make it worth noting). In French bakeries, what they call pudding is generally made from the leftovers of the previous day; this upmarket version was light and spicy.

I had a creamy, cheesy confection dotted with tiny meringues and raspberries. Neither disappointed – far from it – and we both felt happy with the world and became even happier when we were offered a complimentary digestif. Good food, pleasant surroundings (the decor is soft but minimal), great staff and good company. A midsummer night’s dream.

Richard Hesse
Le Café qui Parle: 24, rue Caulaincourt, 75018 Paris. Tel.: 01 46 06 06 88. Métro: Abbesses. Nearest Vélibs: 70-72, rue Lepic; 6, rue Damrémont. Closed Sunday evening and all day Wednesday. Fixed-price menu (lunch only): €12.50 or €17. A la carte: around €35*. Brunch on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays: €17.50.

* three courses, not including wine

© 2009 Paris Update

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