No, dear souls, Chartier is not Cartier (I too actually got excited for a second when I first saw it as it has the same logo), but rather a former soup kitchen or bouillion that now services as a restaurant for one and all. It's vast and reminiscent of a train station, not helped by the baggage stands above the tables. It's said to be fast and furious and you go there for a good quality, economical meal in surroundings that have elements of splendour. In 1989 it was classified as a historic building. Their aim is to "satisfy the bellies without hurting the wallets"
According to Chocolat and Zucchini's book, Clotilde's Eating Adventures in Paris, with careful menu selections, you can eat dinner here for under 15 per person which is an absolute steal in this city. And even though it's on Rue de Fauborg Montmatre crossed by Boulevard Montmatre, it's not actually in Monmatre central (go figure) so while we had hoped to combine it with a tour of Montmatre, we had to get on the Metro for two trains to get here. From their window full of stickers, it seems that every travel book and food journal recommends a visit here.
Luckily we're relatively early so getting a table isn't a problem. The menu is in French only so we muddle through what we can read and order with some recommendations from the waiter who is a gruff but smiling fellow. I want to try Andouiette sausage (made from tripe, I've had it before at Claude's) but he dissuades me from ordering it as does my husband who knows that I don't like tripe. We order a selection of what they have recommended as well as a green salad (I'm craving salad having not had a big salad in a long time) and a roasted chicken (Ok yes I know it sounds like the most boring dish ever but I honestly wanted to see if roasted chicken in France is prepared any differently with different flavours-it's not, more on that later).
The waiter scribbles the order on the plastic throwaway tablecloth.
Salade verte melangee 2.20
My husband is especially impressed with how quick he brings the starters out and we figure they must be pre-prepared to deal with a restaurant this size and to have them ready so quickly. Still the green salad is fresh with a mix of salad leaves and a oil and light vinegar dressing. I am happily crunching on this, missing my greens.
Crevettes roses mayonnaise 3.70
The prawns, although they look unspectacular are deliciously sweet and fresh with a mustardey mayonnaise. I only wish there were more prawns but for that price, I cannot argue.
Poulet roti froid garni pommes frites 8.70
The roasted chicken, the one that I was curious about is actually just like the roasted chicken at home, with gravy and chips. It's good but honestly I wish I had ordered something a bit more adventurous. Sigh food choice are always clearer in hindsight.
Sausages and Lentils
The lentils and sausage are not bad although the lentils have been cooked for too long. The sausage is tasty and goes well with the lentils. I remember the lentils at Sel et Poivre much, much more fondly.
Service lags while two large groups sit down around us and our waiter attends to them. During this time, two men gesture to share our table as the restaurant, enormous as it is, is packed to the brim.
Creme de marron vanillee 2.70
The marron vanille is a pot of sweetened chestnut puree with the lightest hint of vanilla. It's incredibly rich and although we should have probably ordered the Coupe mont blanc (creme de marron chantilly). With just the puree, it's too rich to finish such a large portion.
It's not fine dining and I'm not certain it warrants a special visit but if you've spent too many Euros like we did and are in the area, a drop-in will fetch you a decent meal - that is, if you can get a table.
And if you wondered what those drawers were for, they were for regular customers to store their napkins although this was many moons ago!
7 Rue de Faubourg Montmatre 9th arrondisement
Metro Grands Boulevards Use Exit 2
Tel: 01 47 70 86 29 (no reservations)
Open 7 days 11:30am-3pm, 6pm-10pm