Patissier Gilles Marchal has been assiduously creating a delicious little empire in Montmartre for some time now. First there was his excellent pastry shop in the Rue Ravignan, then his Compagnie Générale de Biscuiterie, which sells biscuits named for celebrated past inhabitants of the neighbourhood, including Jeanne Avril and La Goulue, and now there’s this charming bistrot as an ideal escape from the mediocre tourist traps of the nearby Place du Tertre.
This handsome dining room with a harlequin tile floor, globe lamps, wood panelling and a big bar just inside the door may look as though it’d been there forever, but actually reflects the proprietor’s good eye at flea-markets in France and Belgium (the bar was previously in a tavern in Charleroi). Since it opened last summer, this very reasonably priced table has won a solid following of local regulars, which is no surprise given the fact that the service is charming and the simple cooking is so good.
Hearkening back to the days when Montmartre was a small farming village perched on a hilltop and many windmills used to grind locally-grown grain, the galette, a flaky laminated pastry made from organic flour, is the basis of many of the dishes on the menu. Stopping by for dinner on a recent Sunday night – this table is an ideal address for a light but appetising weekend supper – we began with tomato tartlettes with pesto oil and oeufs mayonnaise (devilled eggs), and then sampled the wonderfully rich galette filled with ham, roast pork, sautéed mushrooms, Comté and raw cream, and the plat du jour, which was sea bream in a nicely made sauce Dugléré (fish fumet, butter, tomatoes, shallots, white wine).
An excellent baba au rhum and a flaky puits d’amour pastry (puff pastry with a glazed vanilla cream filling) concluded this satisfying meal, which was enhanced by the wonderful people-watching here.
Bistrot de la Galette, 102 ter Rue Lepic, 18th arrondissement, Paris Tel. (33) 01 46 06 19 65. Average €35. www.bistrotdelagalette.fr
From France Today magazine