Paris Restaurant Reviews: Marcel
Wed 9 Mar 2011
1, villa Léandre, in the 18th Arrondissement.
01 46 06 04 04. Mon–Fri, 9 a.m.–9 p.m.; Sat–Sun, 10 a.m.–6 p.m.
There seems to be no end to the Parisian love of all things vaguely New Yorkaise, at least if the popularity of the recently opened Marcel, a charming Montmartre café, is any indication.
Marcel actually covers a broad Anglo territory, serving fish and chips alongside American classics like Caesar salad and Reuben sandwiches. The only things French you’ll find here are the wine list and the foie gras.
Oh, and the clientele. Marcel sits on a sunny corner in a beautiful, residential part of Montmartre. The room is modern and airy, with a black-and-white color scheme warmed by a wood-paneled bar and schoolroom furniture. It seems to have immediately become the official canteen for hip local families, a role Marcel embraces enthusiastically. They offer paper menus and crayons to keep kids amused and even a changing table in the restroom, something I’ve never seen in Paris.
Another thing I’ve never seen here? Such a fluffy stack of blueberry pancakes. In general, Marcel gets the brunch menu right, serving egg dishes, sandwiches, salads, cereals, breakfast breads and sides. There are scones and bagels, eggs Benedict and omelets, French toast and waffles, and—in a total throwback—a Cobb salad.
Of course, brunch isn’t the only time to enjoy Marcel. They serve lunch and dinner during the week, when the breakfasty items are replaced with more savory fare.
My friend had the eggs Benedict, which was top-to-bottom nearly perfect: the English muffin had nooks and crannies, the eggs were properly poached and the hollandaise clearly was recently made, with a good squeeze of lemon. I had the BLT, actually a BALT, with slices of avocado. It was wonderfully familiar, not a French version of a BLT, but the real thing.
If you have room, try the cheesecake, fruit crumble or chocolate cake (a recipe of Jamie Oliver’s, we heard the waiter tell another table). Work it off by walking up the steep streets and stairs of the neighborhood.
Drink choices include coffee and tea, a gingery house-made lemonade, a green tea latte and freshly squeezed juices, plus a short but adequate wine list and, for reasons I don’t understand, Budweiser. The only thing missing is a Bloody Mary.
In a nutshell: Marcel is the Montmartre café of the moment, a kid-friendly spot with adult appeal that gets British and American cooking right.
Price check: Main courses, 10–17 euros; small plates, sides and desserts, 4–10 euros.
If you like the sound of Marcel, you’ll also like Le Bal Café. Read the review.
Le Bal Café
6, impasse de la Défense, in the 18th.
01 44 70 75 56. Wed–Sat, 10 a.m.–11 p.m.
Sun, 10 a.m.–7 p.m.