La Bonne Franquette
2, rue des Saules, in the 18th Arrondissement.
01 42 52 02 42. Lunch and dinner every day.
If it’s generally true that finding a good meal at a reasonable price near Paris’s most trafficked tourist sites is all but impossible, then this might be the exception that proves the rule.
I first heard about La Bonne Franquette from Alexander Lobrano, who admitted to having been pleasantly surprised by a meal at this historic spot (Van Gogh painted it) near the overrun place du Tertre, in Montmartre. Having read that review, I happily accepted an invitation to a dinner celebrating the annual Beaujolais Nouveau release last week.
The large space toes the line between quaint and kitsch, and the menu, with its onion soup, escargots, boeuf bourguignon, duck confit and apple tart, reads like some kind of souvenir cookbook of France. The question was never far from my mind: Is this a restaurant, or an imitation of a restaurant?
The answer became clear after meeting owner Patrick Fracheboud, who has been running La Bonne Franquette for 32 years. He takes hospitality, and food, very seriously.
The dinner that night was pork based, head to tail, highlighting items on the everyday menu. A classic tête de cochon started things off, accompanied by a small salad and cornichons. Pig’s foot with foie gras received mixed reviews from the table, though I suspect it had more to do with the challenging texture of the morsel than the quality itself; I liked the rich mix of unctuous and toothsome meat.
The champion, though, hands down, was a boudin noir laced with piment d’Espelette and served with a roasted apple. Cut into slices more firm than is typical, the boudin had a bit of spice that balanced the ferrous sweetness of the filling, and the apple (a classic accompaniment to the dish) played its role with aplomb.
That boudin noir comes from Parra, a great charcutier in the Basque country. M. Fracheboud sources his ingredients very carefully, offering only what he would want to eat himself. His wine list merits mention, too; it’s full of bottles from small, interesting vignerons. Even the Beaujolais Nouveau, a wine consumed for the sake of a party, not one’s palate, came from some great producers of the region, including Foillard and Lapierre.
In a nutshell: La Bonne Franquette delivers a piece of old Montmartre on a plate.
Price check: First courses, 5–14 euros; mains, 14–22 euros; desserts, 6–9 euros.
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44, rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud, in the 11th.
01 43 57 16 35.
Editor’s note: For a gourmet walking tour, check out our DIY downloadable tours.