La Famille is a restaurant that opened a few months ago in Montmartre. It got an impressive amount of flattering reviews in the press (whoever takes care of their PR would get my business!) which naturally teased me into trying it. I'm a sucker for new restaurants, and when they open just two blocks from us, what's a girl to do?
I tried it first with my sister Céline a few weeks ago, and we liked it so much that I went back last Wednesday with my friend Sophie. The restaurant is high-ceilinged but pretty small : it seats no more than 40 people. At the entrance is a long bar, behind which the friendly owners (two look-alike cousins, hence the name) stand, drying glasses, chatting and surveying the room. The furthest half of the sitting area is on an elevated platform, structuring the space in a very interesting way, and giving it a loft-like feel. It is well decorated, but in a low-key fashion, simple lines, dim lights and soft colors, making the atmosphere a very cosy one, perfect for a date or for an intimate chat with friends.
Their menu is very simple : at any given time, they offer four starters, four main courses and four desserts. Every week they replace one of the sixteen items. They also have a "miniature dinner night" on the first Sunday of every month, where you can get their dishes tapas-style. So far those Sundays have not been convenient for us, but I'd like to make it to the December one! (Come to think of it, eating out on a Sunday night would make me miss "Six feet under", but that's another story.)
Their cuisine is inventive, and revolves around basic ingredients, interesting combinations, unusual flavors, and beautiful plating on chic but simple plates.
Once we were seated, our waitress brought us amuse-bouches in Japanese-type soup spoons : it was a garbanzo bean purée topped with tapenade (olive paste). I remember Céline and I had been served ceviche, (marinated raw fish, a South America specialty). As a main dish, Sophie and I chose the Orange scallops in chorizo infused oil with mint carrots, which we both enjoyed very much : a row of six plump scallops sprinkled with flavorful oil, bits of peeled orange slices, thinly sliced blanched carrots with mint leaves. This was served with very fresh bread (plain and walnut) which, I enquired, comes from the bakery called "Coquelicot" (poppy) a few blocks from us. This bakery also makes the best baguette of the neighborhood in our opinion - and we've tried 'em all, believe me!
I wasn't really feeling hungry for dessert (I know, this alone should make you worry!), but last time, Céline and I had opted for their signature dessert, "Pot de chocolat au piment d'Espelette", a thick spicy chocolate cream served in a glass, with a chocolate grissini and a small fudge square. My kind of dessert entirely, and this one has so much success I can rest assured they're not moving it out of the rotation any time soon!
The staff at La Famille is very friendly. I had noticed it particularly that time with Céline : as we chatted with them a bit, they sounded very enthusisatic about their food and looked happy to be working here, which is really the recipe for excellent service in my book.
As we left the restaurant, we were offered to cut ourselves bracelets in the embroidered ribbons that read "la famille c'est important" (family is important) or "it's a family affair". I don't know about other countries, but in France, they remind everybody of the ribbons with our names on them that our mothers would sew on our clothes before we left for summer camp. In any case, I think it's a really great publicity idea : I wore mine for a few days and people were intrigued, prompting me to talk about the restaurant!
I like this restaurant very much, but I must admit I am a little wary of the intense buzz they are getting, and I hope the place will remain simple and friendly through the hype...
41 rue des Trois Frères
01 42 52 11 12
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