Ok, so the title isn't original..sorry Anthony Bourdain. If you're reading, please read on....
Ok, when I used to think of French food, I used to think pretentous uncomfortable atmosphere with weird food items and an unprouncable menu. Ok, the menu is still unprouncable but the remaining items are completely untrue.
Over the last week, I have had the pleasure to dine in a restaurant built in 1896. The place really hasn't changed much, its a huge dining hall, kind of one that probably drew working class people back in the day, has a big clock in the center, and long brass shelves overhead that probably once held canes, top hats, long tails from yesteryears but now hold backpacks, laptops, and cameras. The place, called Chartier is definitely a French dining place with classic dishes and waiters in shirts and ties but none of the stuffy atmosphere. In fact, the restaurant is down right cheap, you can have a entree and a dessert for about 20 bucks. The restaurant gets very.......very crowded, so sitting with a complete stranger is perfectly expected. This was good, since I was dining alone and the lively atmosphere was welcoming.
In my case, it was a French accountant, who at first didn't say much but when I heard English at the table next to me, found out they were Canadians, we all started talking. The Canadians were on holidays, spoke worst French then me, and in general were really curious about being in France as it was their first time.
Tonight, I just had another great dining experience. I was feeling lonely today, really missing Sabeen and so like all evenings, walked out in search of a restaurant and showed up at La Bontendrie that had a few diners but the menu looked nice. The minute I walked in, the waitress greeted me and immediately made me feel comfortable with her ability to go back and forth in English and French and the best part was her contagious laugh and care free and happy personality. The soundtrack was good too, had on Red Hot Chili Peppers.
She kept coming by asking if the food was good and would then run off trailing in French and laughing and even swore wasn't drunk but thats just the way she was. I ordered a grilled rabbit with mushrooms and baked potatoes, which were delicious and paid my compliments to the chef. I even managed to sell the dish to a few walk-ins from Russia and Finland.
I think this might have been the best dining experince in Paris so far, so with my colleague returning, will be back again tomorrow.