La Table d’ Eugene, Paris
Perched on a hillside overlooking Paris, Montmartre, once a country village and later a bohemian neighborhood known for its lively cabarets and popular with artists like Toulouse Laurtrec and Utrillo, is one of the most visited districts of the city. The basilique du Sacre Coeur and the Place du Terte, where the artists once congregated, are its main attractions, but to enjoy the handsome church and the fine views over the city from its steps, I send out-of-town friends up there early in the morning and also advise them to skip the tourist-heavy Place du Terte in favor of a long walk with no itinerary through the streets of the neighborhood to enjoy its particular atmosphere and interesting architecture.
If they think they’ll want lunch during their idle perambulations, I book a table for them at this excellent little restaurant on a side street near the Mairie (town hall) of the 18th arrondissement, a lively area with lots of cafes and interesting boutiques. Chef Gregory Maillard worked with Eric Frechon at L’Epicure, the three-star table at the Hotel Le Bristol, before going out on his own with this intimate and casually chic storefront dining room. The precision and flawless quality of his sophisticated market-driven contemporary French comfort food shows off why Paris still deserves its vaunted gastronomic reputation, too, since you still eat remarkably well in small neighborhood restaurants like this one. The haute-cuisine background Maillard brings to the modern- bistro register is his signature, too.
The dining room at La Table d’ Eugene, Paris
Plotting a post-summer vacation reunion dinner recently with pretty Franco-American Claire and handsome Breton Denis, a delightful couple we met when we were staying in the same bed-and-breakfast in Stonington, Connecticut almost ten years ago, I knew this place would be ideal, since they’re as avidly gourmand as Bruno and me but dislike food that’s fussy or too cerebral. So two of us began with the terrine of duck foie gras topped with a fine quince gelee, and two settled on the langoustine tails wrapped in crisply fried pastry parcels and garnished in a successful feint at the Asian palate with squid’s ink wafers, cucumber slices, sesame seeds and fresh coriander.
The pork chop at La Table d’Eugene
The main courses we chose on a cool night were thick pork chops in a lush sauce of pan drippings with a garnish of elbow-macaroni lashed with more of the same deeply rich sauce and chopped ceps and truffles for the gents, and a juicy rack of lamb with vegetables for Claire.
An exceptionally good cheese plate gave the boys an excuse to order a final glass of wine, while Claire tucked into an elegant lemon tartelette with a fine pane of caramel and a crumbly buttery crust.
The only drawbacks to this fine restaurant are the expensive wine list, service that’s a little more formal than it needs to be, and the fact that reservations have to be made well ahead of time. But these constraints don’t stop it from being my favorite restaurant in Montmartre, and Claire and Denis loved it, too.
18 rue Eugène Sue, 18th, Tel. 01-42-55-61-64. Metro: Jules Joffrin or Marcadet-Poissonniers. Open for lunch and dinner Tuesday to Saturday. Closed Sunday and Monday. Lunch menus 29 Euros, 35 Euros. Average a la carte 60 Euros.
was Gourmet magazine’s European correspondent from 1999 until it closed. Lobrano has written for almost every major food and travel magazine since he became an American in Paris in 1986. He is the author of Hungry for Paris (Random House), his personal selection of the city’s 102 best restaurants, which Alice Waters has called “a wonderful guide to eating in Paris.” Lobrano’s Letter from Paris runs every month in Everett Potter’s Travel Report. Visit his website, Hungry for Paris
. (Photo by Steven Rothfeld)