L’Homme Tranquille

L'Homme Tranquille

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.

It’s his mother who’s in charge of the cooking, from the depths of a downstairs kitchen. From time to time, you hear the mechanical sound of the “monte-plats” (the service lift), as the freshly prepared dishes emerge to the surface. The 24-euro three-course menu offers French dishes, as well as some specialties from Brasil, made by the cook of the nearby Brasilian restaurant “El Molino”. You decide to go “moit’ moit’” and split the dishes.

You start out with a goat cheese salad, wonderfully fresh and well seasoned, and a homemade tuna terrine with dill cream, moist and flavorful. You liberally chomp on the excellent rustic bread provided, uncharacteristically forget to ask where it comes from, but guess in afterthought that it comes from the boulangerie at the top of the rue Houdon.

You then share a Brasilian plate of two empenadas (baked turnovers, one beef and one sardine), red beans, salad and salsa, and the plat du jour, a lamb tajine, deliciously spiced. By then, you are a little giddy from the Pot Lyonnais (a 50 cl carafe) of red wine you ordered.

You declare yourself blissfully stuffed and withdraw from the race, but your boyfriend trudges on bravely, and orders the chocolate cake, for which the owner thoughtfully supplies two spoons. You comment on the fact that said boyfriend is normally not a chocolate dessert guy, but that this is obviously undergoing serious change.

You order espressos – “déca” for you, “serré” for him – brought by the owner, who whispers that this is on the house, too, and points out that his wife has taken upon herself to treat us to both a speculoos and a chocolate caramel, although this is normally an either/or type of deal.

After lingering for a while, you get up, exchange thanks and smiles profusely with the owner and ask him to pass on your compliments to his mother. He shows you to the door, you step into the chilly december night, and walk home, arm in arm, happy and satisfied.

L’Homme Tranquille
["The Quiet Man", in reference to the 1952 John Ford movie.]
81 rue des Martyrs
75018 Paris
01 42 54 56 28

  • http://www.makunas.com/aliveone Jenny

    Clotilde, what does “serré” mean? I’m well skilled in ordering my espresso “déca,” but I’ve never heard the other term before.

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Jenny – “café serré” (litteraly “tight coffee”) is a very short espresso. Same amount of coffee, but less water. Depending on how it’s made, you can drink it in one to three gulps. It is also Maxence’s silver bullet to tell good service from bad : bad service will get you the exact same thing whether you ask for serré or not. :)

  • http://www.gastroblog.com Jackie D

    …And then you write about it for your blog and make your readers impossibly jealous!

    I love freebies, and at restaurants they’re even better. I hope this place is forever successful!

    What else was in the goat cheese salad, out of curiosity? And how was the cake?

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Jackie – the salad included mixed greens, very thin carrot slices, green beans, cilantro leaves and thin slices from a log of goat cheese, in a tangy dressing. The chocolat cake was very good, a generous square, brownie-like in texture (no nuts though), served with a dollop of crème fraîche…

  • Wendy Hartley

    I’ve been here twice on visits to Paris, it is such a lovely lovely restaurant, very affordable with exquisite atmosphere and impeccable food. I recommend it to everyone who visits.

  • stella andrews

    This is my favourite restaurant in Paris. I go there everytime I visit the city. I usually order the salad of the season and the delicious chicken in honey.

    The atmosphere is wonderful.

  • Javed

    We went to the restaurant a few years ago, upon your recommendation in your book. We’re headed back to Paris again for two weeks in April and L’Homme Tranquille is again on our must-eat list. Thanks for the recommendations, and keep them coming!

  • Tina

    This may once have been a gem, but I’m afraid it is no longer. I heard it had a change of ownership, which might explain why we had such an unimpressive experience (at best). I would not recommend this place to anyone — very disappointing food, and for 90 euros even more so.

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      Thanks for reporting back, Tina, and sorry you didn’t have a good experience under the new ownership.

  • Tamara

    In 2010 we had such a wonderful meal–actually 2–there. We went back because the whole experience was so lovely. Do you have any idea what happened to the previous owners? Did they start another restaurant?
    We had many a great meal on our last trip to Paris based on your book! Thank you.

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      Rumor has it the new owner has actually sold it back to the original owners (!) and they should be back in September. Thanks for the kind words about the book!

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