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Bouillon Chartier.: Historical....
As you walk through the revolving door into this place, you just know it's special. Everyone is greeted by the maitre d' and led to his table. I used to come here in the early 70's and 40 years after the service hasn't changed one bit. Classed as a historic monument in 1989 the dining room hasn't changed since it's creation in 1896. Classic art-deco lamps, mirrors and furnishing take you back in time. Every waiter is dressed as all those years ago with white shirt, long white apron and black waistcoat.
After saying all that I was a bit disappointed with the food, but then who comes here for that. When you cover 500 people at a lunch-time sitting, it's impossible at the prices they charge to be at the same level as "Maxim's". Just go in, order a steak and fries and lap up the atmosphere, this is more of an experience than eating a meal at through the nose prices. Almost like being at home. Menu and prices can be found on the site below.
Bouillon Chartier: For the crowds/rush/noise lovers
Some guide books use to present "Bouillon Chartier" as an 'ultimate local french experience', i beg to deffer and would rather qualify it a tourist trap (even if the restaurant itself is not to blame here).
Four years ago it was still a normal 'bouillon' (what made for french 'fast food' at the beginning of the 20th century) : a place where you could eat rapidly a decent warm meal and would - in my opinion - have qualified for the restaurants tips' category.
But when some tourists, judging it "deliciously typically french", made a large publicity and guides books published worldwide the address of this 'secret and confidential spot', what happened ? ... Crowds !!!!!!!!!! The restaurant, which has never been large and always very crowded is now completely overflown.
While the cooking (brasserie style : pot au feu, blanquette, ...) is still adequate (even if they now have taken to adapt to" international tastes " (understand industrial bland, like removing horse radish from pot-au-feu - a too strong taste....)) , you have to like to eat in your right neighbour's plate, with your left neighbour's elbow in your stomach to appreciate it.
It has even reached the point that Chartier (remember what the guidebook says : TYPICALLY FRENCH) has now taken this typically NOT FRENCH habit : rushing the patrons through their meal (well, since they are only tourists (locals have nearly completely flown away), they won't come back anyway, so better feed a maximum of them in a minimum of time...).
Favorite Dish: I used to like this restaurant ......
Some years ago
The cooking is still approximately decent, brasserie style dishes, but don't expect high gastronomy.
Go there for dinner instead of lunch, some "busses" put "their tourists" in bed early and you may have a wee bit more room.
Well, if you love crowds, noise, bland food, exhausted (and grumpy) waiters, hurried fellow tourists, this place is for you.
Look around, direction Notre Dame de Lorette, there are a lot of small local "brasseries", much less crowded, serving decent food for around 12-15 Euros (lunch)
Bouillon Chartier: crowdy but delicious
This is a funny place... somehow typical France for me. A huge room, all tables in a row, all tables busy, waiters running around with many many plates in their hands, noisy...
But once you sit down it's wonderful! There's so much to look at in the room, watch other people, chat with your waiter, oh yes, and have something to eat :-) The menu is quite long, might save you time to only translate the various menu combinations and order that. Even after translating and believing to understand it - you might be in for a surprise.
And as you have some white paper for table cloth the waiter just writes down your bill on the table. Efficient and tasty !!
Chartier: Don't be put off by the queue!
Chartier is not a place to go if you are looking for a fine dining experience. It was created at the turn of the century as a 'bouillion', a kind of working class canteen where people could go to get a plain, hearty meal at an affordable price. The building itself is wonderful to look at inside. Today it attracts both locals and tourists aplenty and is always interesting.
To start with there is almost always a queue outside but don't be put off by this, it moves very quickly. Large parties will have to wait longer if they are determined to sit together. If there are between two and four of you, you will get in quite quickly - beware of the revolving door - it goes at 'warp speed'! Parties of two or three will most likely be sharing a table with other diners - for us this is part of the fun. We have shared tables with visitors from the far east who didn't speak any French and had clearly just pointed at something on the menu and hoped for the best! We have also had interesting conversations with Parisians (who are usually very kind about my fairly basic French). One particular night one of the 3 young 'communards' sitting across from us was ready to go off and man the barricades at the end of the night, just as soon as the minor problem of his bank card being refused was sorted out and his friend had paid for his meal!
The menu changes daily and is printed on a large sheet. The waiters scribble your order on the paper table cloth and tot up your bill with lightning speed at the end of the meal. Yes, they may be brusque and you are not encouraged to hang around for too long after you have paid, but they stop admitting customers at about 10pm so if you go at around 9 - 9.30 you won't be hurried out.
One word of warning - it's always worth checking if the main meals are served with any vegetables - very often what you get is literally what it says on the menu so you may want to order side dishes of vegetables.
For us a visit to Paris would not be complete without a trip to Chartier. It is excellent value for money - the experience itself is worth the price of the meal.
Favorite Dish: I always have my fingers crossed that the dessert menu will feature either orange or citron givree; a citrus sorbet served in the frozen fruit shell. It's incredibly 70's kitsch but I love it. My husband reverts to childhood nursery food with the compote de pommes - basically stewed apple baby food!
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Bouillon Chartier: don't fall in the trap!
we had lunch here today, around 3 o'clock so not so crowded, but the food is awful!!
both parisians, it looked nice from the outside, with all the stickers on the windows from all the guides...but beware of the "apparences": there isn't a single recent sticker! they curiously all stop around 2001.. grumpy waiters, very slow service, we had to ask about 5 times for our tap water, and we shared it with our neighbours, who never had their mineral water...same for the bread. the snails were ok, but the "filet de hareng" was quite disappointing, especially the potatoes coming with it. I had the andouillette with mushrooms, acceptable, but my friend had the "pavé de rumsteak" with fries: totally disgusting. Bad meat, cold sauce wich tasted awful, and fries even worse that at McDonalds. The salmon ordered by our neighbours didn't look good either, and it came automatically with fries, which is so anti-french!
we were so disappointed that we didn't even want dessert, and we were afraid of being ill after our meal (it eventually never happened!!)
the price for 2 was 33 euros, which i agree is not expensive, but we can find a decent 3 course meal for the same price in a lot of little brasseries, plus the service was a joke, they clearly mistaked us for tourists or "pigeons" as we say here.
Favorite Dish: none
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Bouillon Chartier: Bouillon Chartier
Maybe not the best but the one with good food and not expensive. For those that don't want to expend too much than with Mac... and things like this, but want to eat and feel normal... This is the best thing God could have done...
Bouillon Chartier: KEEP FAR FROM IT!!
i was there with my girlfriend and it really was the worst "restaurant" i've ever seen!!!
it seems like my university cafeteria inside an artistic and historical building!
after a long que, we were sitting side by side with a couple of old german people and we didn't know each other. but they say this is normal for french restaurant (??). that was not a problem for us.
the problem was that my glass was really really really dirty! i made them change it and i received another glass. this time it was only dirty.
finally, in between my unexeptional meal, i found 2 hairs that were not written on the menu.
food was anything special.
i really don't understand why so many people go there! my suggest is: absolutly keep out!! maybe spend 2 euros more and eat somewhere else!! eat something better in a better place.
ABSOLUTELY THE WORST PLACE I'VE EVER BEEN!
Favorite Dish: NO ONE!!
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