Fork Crying Out Loud
Paris was bathed in sunlight although the temperature in the shade could still freeze the proverbials off a brass monkey. We rugged up and rolled down into the heart of Paris from our digs in Montmarte. After a stroll through the Tuilleries and taking in some of the fabulous impressionist pieces in the Orangerie it was onto the Metro and up towards the Sacre Coeur for lunch. Heidi made us alight at Abesses and were deep underground. Many of the locals seemed to be milling around the lift but we opted for the stairs (I presume they were locals after we made the journey up to terra firma as locals would never attempt something as silly as climbing the several hundred stairs that we did). We started climbing the world’s largest spiral staircase that I’m quite sure Kevin McLeod would call bespoke. We kept going around and around and I felt like an energy particle in the Large Hadron Collider. Once we hit the top the job wasn’t quite done. We trounced up the hill to the church, hung a right, took a wrong turn right down some stairs where my quads started burning, rectified the situating by hooking left up a steep hill where my hammies burnt and finally made it to Clocher de Montmarte.
This is a pleasant joint that has a modern feel to it. Walls are all black and grey and I suspect the place feels better at night. Our waiter was most pleasant and seated us quickly but then went and spent far too much time fondling some cutlery at his work station before offering us a drink. Whilst making acquaintances with forchette et cotteaux his brain should have kicked into gear and reminded him that these are the implements that one may require to facilitate the movement food from plate to mouth.
Food here is good and the menu is tight but full of interesting, simple dishes cooked well. My snails in garlic, parsley and butter were absolutely bang on but I had to ask for a fork. Cousin Lucy’s starter of goats cheese on baguette with a salad compose was excellent but she had to ask for a fork. Lily’s omelette was super but she had to ask for a fork. Patrick’s pork nuggets were on song, he needs no fork he’s straight into everything a la main. Heidi fortunately had a spoon already set for a fantastic onion soup. It was rich and savoury and quite complex with the addition of some root vegetables. I had to ask for bread to mop up all of the buttery sexiness that the snails were drowned in and it arrived just in time. Our waiter who had the attention of an ADD kid on Red Bull actually bought out another basket of bread after we’d finished our meal, just in case we wanted to soak up some cool Montmartre air with it perhaps?
After ordering the second wine, a 2010 Domaine Goisbault Cotes du Rhone Heidi asked what was going on (she can read me like a book and I generally get stuck in Burgundy when ordering wine). I responded with ‘I think it would be nice to give the readers of repast an insight to a few more regions this edition’. She responded with, that is B.S I bet they don’t have much Burgundy on the list’, I really can’t get away with anything. The wine was good, full of red fruits with a hint of rosewater and some Provencal herb aromas and flavours. It was medium of body and finished with a crisp snap. The wine list is only pretty basic but our starting white, a 2010 Coche-Bouillot Meursault was good. It had some candied pear notes along with plenty of citrus. It was a little skinny and tart at first but grew into its acidity in the glass.
Main courses were very good but we were sans cutlery for far too long, I resisted the urge to yell out ‘fork crying out loud how hard is it to get cutlery on the table’. Heidi and Lucy had Cote de Porc that was flavoursome but had dried out a little by the time they were able to cut into it. My dish of onions stuffed with minced beef was superb. It came with a rich, spicy reduction and some basmati rice.
We decided to skip dessert as I wasn’t too fussed on attacking a soufflé with my hands and had a just ok coffee and hit the road. Without prompting, seven year old Lily said ‘They needed another staff member’ and she was right. The menu here is good and well priced and I suspect with a tweak to service issues this is a genuinely good option for a quality meal in a high tourist zone.
As someone who also lives nearby and had enjoyed Clocher enormously when it opened and for the first 6 months I must note that the food dropped off on our last visit altough I can't complain about the service.
I just think Antoine Herah has too many (4 restos) fish to fry on the Mont to maintain a high level consistency.
O dear. Next time,
1. Please take the lift at Abbesses instead of doing the five flights upward.
2. Two much better, and kid-friendly, restos, in the much more beautiful and funky and not so touristy "Amélie" side of Montmartre, a short walk west of the Abbesses station: Jeanne B on rue Lepic (must reserve), and the much more casual eat&run place Coquelicot. In splendid weather, which is now, lunch on the terrasse is heavenly.