Le Petit Trianon
80, blvd de Rochechouart, in the 18th Arrondissement.
Open every day, 9 a.m.–2 a.m. 01 44 92 78 08.
It can be frustrating in Paris to be hungry at an odd hour, or to want something decent without spending a fortune or having to think ahead to make a reservation. Yes, there are your usual Parisian cafés all over the place, but the standard of food at most of these places, charming as they might be, is depressingly low.
Le Petit Trianon fills the void. On a still seedy stretch of boulevard below Montmartre, lined with theatres and sex shops and tour buses, they’ve tapped into the food zeitgeist, offering products from well-known names and even some natural wines. It feels a little more like a co-opting than a decision borne of passion (I would have been shocked if my waiter could have told me anything about the wines of Catherine and Pierre Breton), but it’s definitely smart.
This is not a gastronomic paradise, to be sure. But it is several notches above most Paris café food. The lettuce is fresh. The tartines are served on thick toast and, in the case of the grilled artichoke version, soaked with olive oil from La Tête dans les Olives. The charcuterie is from Ospital; the jambon de Paris is the vrai thing. My advice would be to keep it simple. Salads, charcuterie plates, croques and tartines: there’s less to screw up here.
The space is gorgeous. A zinc bar backed with mirrors and glass shelves sits at one end, and a collection of mismatched chairs fills the dining room, which is in turn lined on one side with windows whose light is reflected in more mirrors. The walls are painted a shade between lilac and mauve. The space was closed for 20 years before being renovated by the same team behind Hotel du Nord (which has great atmosphere if not great food). They’ve done the same thing here, creating a space that feels very old and very contemporary at the same time.
At a recent lunch the place was filled mostly with locals, many of whom seemed to work at the theater—Le Trianon—to which the café is attached. But I expect more tourists to start filling the seats as word gets out. Sacré Coeur is just up the hill.
In a nutshell: With food that’s a cut above most Paris cafés, a beautiful room and continuous all-day service, Le Petit Trianon is a fine choice for a casual meal near Montmartre.
Price check: Lunch formule, 13.50 euros; dinner, 16.50. À la carte from 6.50 euros for sandwiches and small plates to 24 euros for a steak.
If Le Petit Trianon sounds good, you’ll also like the nearby Hotel Amour, which offers massive salads and a decent burger in a beautiful garden setting. Read the review.
8, rue Navarin, in the 9th.
01 48 78 31 80. Daily, noon–11 p.m.
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