The first bouillons appeared in 1855 thanks to an astute butcher, Pierre Louis Duval
. He proposed a single dish
of meat and a bouillon
(soup/stock) to the workers of the market halls. In 1900, nearly two hundred and fifty bouillons could be found in Paris
. They became the first popular chain of restaurants. Some other bouillons, more "upper-class", offered a reading room or some entertainment.
Over time they faded from popularity, but they are back. Often decorated in the colourful Art Nouveau style they offer inexpensive dining in an unforgettable atmosphere. The Original Chartier still exists and is always packed, on the Faubourg Montmartre and the Montparnasse 1900, now Chartier Montparnasse, is now serving a bouillon menu in the original decor featuring carved wood and ceramics, with mirrors and glass paintings.
The joint was packed and M and I first sat next to an elegant Frenchwoman dining alone, followed by two adult males from the high tech world-the conversations flowed as easily as the wine.My instinct was to ask why the owners had waited so long to impose the Chartier formula on this gorgeous space.
The menu is laden with classic dishes like toe tete de veau (11.80) that madame was enjoying when we arrived. M began with céleri remoulade (2.70) and had filet de hareng with steamed potatoes drizzled with olive oil (3.80.)As a main course we chose the plat du jour sauté de veau marengo (11.20.) A half-bottle of the Cuvée Chartier (syrah) at 6.50 was perfect.
The bread was extraordinary, crunchy crust, moist center and it deserved an assiette de fromage-bleu d'auvergne and pont l'Eveque (2.60 each) and the final drops of wine. In fairness to the restaurant I couldn't write a review without tackling dessert-in this case a rum soaked baba (4.50.)
One final surprise awaited us-an expresso Lavassa that erased the memory of the Richard Frères Cuvée Indifferent that I had drunk at the nameless café that preceded this visit.The prices could have come off a New Jersey diner menu in the fifties but the atmosphere, food and service were tip top Paris. I don't know how else to tell you to go and be sure to make a reservation.
Paris et les bouillons ! – un must car pas connus ailleurs et typiquement français. Et mieux encore. Le style art nouveau dans toute sa splendeur avec un repas tout compris autour de ??? (il fallait attendre l’addition) !
Tout est bon, pour ne jamais se tromper : le plat du jour. – Ce jour céleri rémoulade ou hareng , veau Marengo, vin réserve Chartier (cépage Syrah) et baba au rhum, café Lavazza, quoi rêver de mieux dans une ambiance décontractée. – Courez-y vous ne serez pas déçus !!!–M
50 Boulevard Montparnasse • 01 45 49 19 00