If you find yourself on the Boulevard de Montparnasse after a film wondering where you can have a good meal, as we did the other evening, first leave the boulevard, with all its chain restaurants (unless, of course, you opt for the Coupole or the Select, where the food might not be fantastic but the decor and ambiance are) and do as we did: head for the nearby Rue Sainte Beuve, a short street with several restaurants on it, including the marvelous Le Timbre. No point in going there without a reservation, however, since it is so small, so we thought we would try the place next door, Moustache, which Richard Hesse reviewed for this site a few years ago and which I had recently heard more good reports about.
After the contretemps experienced last week in two different restaurants, what a joy to be greeted by the waiter with a big smile and an invitation to take a seat.
Moustache is a pretty place with red banquettes, mirrors and exposed brick walls, the tables properly dressed with real white tablecloths and napkins.
The menu has a decidedly international flavor, with everything from escargots to wok-fried vegetables. We chose to forego starters for once and both opted for meat. I had the sliced Chateaubriand with tamarind sauce
(thoughtfully placed on the side; the meat was so good that I preferred it on its own). My friend had the pluma Ibérico (pork end loin), which was also served sliced, with a crust of Japanese mountain pepper. Both were tender, perfectly cooked and delicious.
A choice of accompaniments is offered with each main course. I had the delightful, crispy
homemade French fries, while my friend had the tasty wok-fried vegetables.
To end the meal, my companion chose the cheese platter, which included generous helpings of goat cheese from Saumur and a wonderful runny Epoisse. I had the chocolate cream made with dark Valrhona chocolate and
topped with what was supposed to be a ginger-flavored foam but that tasted kind of minty to me. In any case, it was yummy.
To go with the meat, we had ordered a €29 bottle of 2011 Irouléguy from Basque country (Domaine Abotia), a hearty red that the waiter kindly offered to decant for us.
When we were finished with our meal, we both commented on how much we had enjoyed ourselves. While some of the credit must go to the good food, much of it goes to the lovely waiter who was not just friendly but also efficient and solicitous. His eyes were constantly scanning the room to see if anyone needed anything. At one moment I looked over in his direction, not for any particular reason, and our eyes met. He gave me a big, gratuitous smile. What a refreshing change from most French waiters, whose eyes automatically glide in the opposite direction whenever they see anyone trying to attract their attention.
The owner was taking time off that evening but by all reports he, too, is a lovely guy. When you feel like eating well and being treated respectfully (which should always be the case but unfortunately isn’t in Parisian restaurants), go to Moustache.