We had to head over to the 20th arrondissement this Sunday afternoon to pick up something we found on the Bon Coin website for bébé chéri who is arriving in just two months. And instead of making the trek over there just for this one transaction, we thought we would make a day of it. I was in a mood for brunch!
On our list of places to grab a fun brunch was the über trendy, very popular Mama Shelter, but when we dipped in to have a look at the restaurant, it looked dark, crowded, noisy and not the relaxing brunch/lunch we had imagined. Plus everyone seemed to be seated on tall stools, and my poor back can’t take that these days. So I promised myself we would head back there to take advantage of the terrace when the warmer months came back around if the opportunity provided itself.
We headed down rue Saint Blaise hoping to see charming restaurants open for business and people strolling about on a Sunday like any self-respecting charming neighborhood in Paris. Alas, it was deserted, except for one restaurant where we could have eaten, but there was just no animation in the little darling cobblestone quarter of Saint Blaise. Tant pis…
So we hoped on the bus 26 over to the Gambetta quarter sure to find some more Sunday life and bustling Parisianers. Including the presence of soldiers newly stationed here peppering Paris, it was much livelier than Saint Blaise of course. We happened upon a darling little British place that serves brunch, lunch and tea time. Just a few doors down from there we saw some soldiers posted, and figured in addition to indulging in brunch ourselves we’d offer them some coffee before sitting down to eat. So Chéri ordered a couple coffees to go at the counter and I grabbed a table. Only one other table was occupied with a couple finishing their brunch. It looked like they had baked beans and scrambled eggs in their brunch menu. Mmmm! Me and bébé chéri could use some of that!
Chéri was getting the coffees for the soldiers, and the girl behind the counter gave a nervous laugh and said she had never thought about doing such a gesture. Oh!?! Meanwhile I inquired about the brunch for which we had arrived 15 minutes too late. The same girl behind the counter gave her same nervous laugh and said it was impossible to serve either lunch or brunch because the kitchen chef had certain hours to keep and we could only have tea time. It was 2:45pm. So I tried the sympathy-for-a-pregnant lady tactic. That didn’t work. She didn’t budge or offer to heat up some of those pies that were mentioned on the sign in the window. So I snapped a few pictures and tried the I’m-a-Paris-blogger tactic hoping to soften her. Another nervous laugh from her but she was of no commercial mind and just couldn’t imagine stretching her brunch hour by a mere 15 minutes for 2.5 hungry people. She suggested I come back another time, and I said it is a bit of a trek for me to come all the way there, especially as pregnant as I am. This gave her the bright idea of telling me to come back for lunch after the baby was born. I laughed at her obvious ignorance and said, “I don’t think I will have the time to go for brunch for a while when the baby is born!” So all we paid for was the two coffees for the soldiers and left the establishment, never to return, ever.
Funny how a British style establishment could have such a backwards idea of service. This is not like the anglo-saxon attitude. But then it must only be British in appearance, and have no notion of how to satisfy hungry patrons and make a buck or two. Can I just say that this girl had no clue what hospitality is! She should head over to Treize and get a good lesson from American phenomenon, Laurel Sanderson.
Chéri handed over two coffees to some smiling soldiers who had most certainly been rushed in from a station in Africa to defend the homeland’s capital (following the Charlie Hebdo and Hyper Cacher attacks), and who probably haven’t even been provided proper housing yet since they were called over in such emergency. A coffee from strangers is always a nice gesture and was obviously appreciated.
Around the corner, Chéri suggested we go to a place that he called a French institution. Chantefable. And although they were not the kind of place that serves trendy British brunch or pies, they do serve up classic French brasserie fare with a fancy new label for home-cooked food. By now it was nearly 3pm, but they were still graciously serving with their properly trained black-vested long-white-apron-wearing professionals. We were seated and offered menus with a smile. Toto, are we in Paris? Where did all this politeness and service come from!
We selected our outrageously French lunch from a very classic menu of choices. I chose the confit de canard with sarladaise potatoes, and Chéri chose the andouillette with pommes frites. I was still a little disappointed we weren’t brunching, but I completely forgot my disappointment as I took me first delicious garlicky bite of those sarladaise potatoes… Oh my, so not good for my hips, but so so so good for morale! I bet my face looked as pleased as those soldiers did as Chéri handed them coffee! I ate every bit of my lunch and even remarked the lovely subtlety that was included in the plate garnish. The roasted tomato had a faint brushing of vanilla that gave a lovely sensation when eaten at the same time as the duck. Oh those French, no trendy British brunch place can deny the obvious talent in the cuisine that these people most certainly do possess. On s’est régalé grave!
Moral of the story, let Chéri guide me to a place where I may not eat what I initially desired but I WILL be utterly satisfied! Those Frenchmen do have a decent palette for the most part. And Chéri is a gourmand and a gourmet at the table… so lesson learned.
Go lunch or dine in French brasserie fashion at Chantefable and enjoy yourself as much as we did! Even our (French) table neighbors were fun and had a little laugh with us. I couldn’t have found more delight if I had been to Britian in person. I’ll take the French food and Chantefable service any day over brunch or pie and nervously laughing counter girls.
93 avenue Gambetta
Tel : 01.46.36.81.76