L’Homme Tranquille is a small restaurant in the rue des Martyrs, precisely a block from our apartment. It is a very cosy, intimate, comfy, friendly place. It looks a little secret from the outside : the door is narrow, the large windows that look out onto the street are curtained, and the lighting inside is dim, coming from low lamps and candles.
You push the door open – the handle a bit faulty – and enter a room with a high ceiling, in which small wooden tables are set up close to one another. Posters for art shows and movies, some old, some new, signed or unsigned, are pinned to the walls, in a seemingly random pattern. Long shelves, high up on the wall behind the counter, display a collection of antique glass bottles, water jugs, and ceramic food jars.
You called ahead to know if there was room for two, and you are greeted by the friendly owner, a very tall thirty-year-old with unruly hair and a thick woolen sweater, who takes care of the service, single-handedly or with his wife. He offers to seat you at a table close to the heater and lights a small candle. He pauses a moment and says he remembers you from last time, or more accurately, he recognizes your boyfriend and apologetically explains that he has no memory for women’s faces. A moment later, he comes back with two kirs (white wine with blackberry liqueur), on the house. “Parce que je vous aime bien“, he says warmly.