Paris Restaurants: Chamarré Montmartre
52, rue Lamarck, in the 18th Arrondissement. 01 42 55 05 42.
Open daily, noon–2:30 pm and 7–11 p.m.
Living in the 18th Arrondissement, I’ve often wandered the hills tucked behind Sacré Coeur and past its many Paris restaurants, and in passing Chamarré Montmartre, I’ve looked upon its sleek terrace and imagined it to be the perfect spot for a long, casual lunch or delicious dinner. Turns out I was right: for creative dishes in a relaxed, modern environment, Chamarré is the place to be.
Chamarré’s spacious interior is based around an elegant water-and-wood theme, with curvy, comfortable furniture in shades of slate and violet, blown-glass centerpieces resembling jellyfish and dreamy droplet chandeliers. But this isn’t “Enchantment under the Sea”—the decor is subtle enough to merely evoke a calming atmosphere, perfect for a quiet dinner for two.
The four-course lunch menu at 32 euros is both a treat and a deal, as the food reflects the season and satisfies without weighing you down. I was started off with an amuse-bouche of crème de carottes with a foie gras froth, which in its gentle and light butteriness was more an idea than anything else, like eating an idealized memory of the flavor of popcorn.
The starter course of the day was fresh mussels bathed in a warm sweet-potato soup. Hidden inside the savory sauce was the taste of summer, and with it the nostalgia or hope of a day spent seaside, all provided by yielding mussels. It struck me as an interesting idea for the last days of winter, looking toward the spring.
The bonus of this lunch formule was the presence of an extra main course. Why choose between fish or meat when you can have both? First there was a crispy baked hake featured in another transitional dish—the crunchy fish with wintry carrots united with flavors of Chinese grapefruit and spicy rocket to usher in a new season. Next up was the filet of duckling, well dressed in a beet and molasses sauce and encircled by roasted pumpkin squares and carpaccio-thin slices of radish over dots of what tasted like Sriracha sauce, which were welcome bursts of color in an otherwise dark dish.
By the dessert course, spring had sprung, at least on the plate. A mango salad sprinkled with mango jelly, a lemon shaved ice and a one-shot boule of sweet mandarin awaited me. Though I usually prefer my desserts to have more chewability, these three citrusy delights awoke my mouth after the wintry heaviness of the duck. In its simplicity, the mango salad was as light and flavorful as one would hope, but it was the lemon ice that sprang me awake, like a slap to the taste buds, shouting, “Are you ready for spring?!”
And the boule was… well, let’s say it was an adventure for my mouth, but there are some adventures in life for which we’re not prepared. This was one of them. A one-shot swallow of mandarin orange, the ball was held together by a thin skin that burst in my mouth and yielded a texture I can only describe as being inappropriate.
In all, I appreciated Chamarré’s creativity and seasonal inspiration, and that its molecular gastronomy angle was very gently employed. I’d love to see how it handles the transition between spring and summer.
In a nutshell: For inspired dishes with a light touch of molecular gastronomy in a relaxed setting, head to Chamarré Montmartre.
Price check: Starters, 13–26 euros; mains, 19–38 euros; desserts, 8–14 euros. Fixed menus: lunch, 32 euros; dinner, 55–72 euros.
If you like the sound of Chamarré Montmartre, you might also enjoy Septime. Read the review.
80, rue de Charonne, in the 11th Arrondissement.
Lunch, Tues–Fri; dinner, Tues–Sat. 01 43 67 38 29.
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