Bouillon Chartier, Paris

My first night in Paris, I went to Bouillon Chartier, a 100+ year old cafe recommended by a local friend. The restaurant was really big, and all the tables were packed with waiters speed walking everywhere. I was surprised we were able to get seated right away. The 3 of us were seated at a 4 people table, and about 10 minutes later, our waiter brought a single diner to join our table. It was a little bit weird and awkward, and apparently this is not unusual here. 

To start the meal, I got an order of escargot just because I was in Paris, and that was one of the things I should try. The escargot looks big in pictures, but they were actually pretty small. They were baked in herb butter, nice but I wouldn’t say I liked it, mainly because of the texture of the escargot. 

For my main, I got the Burger with black pepper sauce and fries, but I meant to order the “steak” with black pepper sauce, sigh I wish I learned French. Anyway, the burger was cooked rare. It was seared on the outside, and more like beef tartar on the inside.  I didn’t particularly enjoy this either because it was raw on the inside. 

My friend got the Duck confit with roasted potatoes – a much better dish. The duck was quite good, tender and moist. The potatoes were really nice too. I wish I ordered this instead. 

Vegetarian friends, I’m afraid there is only one dish here for you. We are not sure what it’s called, we asked the waiter if he had anything vegetarian, he simply said “OK!”, and left. It turned out to be spaghetti, with roasted mushrooms, potato and over cooked green beans. Thankfully, it tasted better than it looks. 

All the waiters seemed REALLY busy, so when you do get a chance to get your waiter’s attention, you better be ready to ask whatever you flagged him for because he will be impatient. And be prepared to be ignored if you flag a waiter that is not responsible for your table. 

The food flies out of the kitchen really fast, so I imagine they had a buffet style kitchen where the waiter could just scoop their own orders out. My guess. 

My local friend said this was the place to come to experience the “true French” old fashioned cafe. And I think she was right. The food wasn’t great here, but they were cheap and the ambiance was great. It was busy, noisy, filled with mix of locals and tourists. A good environment to come hangout for a couple hours & drink.