Bouillon Chartier’s third Paris restaurant, located in the 10th arrondissement, opened just across the Gare de l’Est. It replicates the elements that have made Bouillon Chartier such a beloved Parisian institution. Classic French food, art nouveau inspired interiors, waiters dressed in a traditional rondin (a fitted black waistcoat with several pockets, along white aprons and white shirts), and affordable prices transport you to another epoch.
Though lacking the high ceilings and grandeur of the locations on boulevard du Montparnasse and rue du faubourg Montmartre, it still has all the elements that make people flock to it, and other similar traditional restaurants like Bouillon Julien and Bouillon Pigalle for a decent meal at an unbeatable price. What it lacks in vastness is made up for in charm and – crucially – the lack of long lines that sometimes deter us from the other locations. How long the lack of queues will last remains to be seen.
Les Bouillons and Bouillon Chartier – origins
The first location in the Grands Boulevards district opened in 1896 by the brothers Camille and Frédéric Chartier. Located in the 9th arrondissement, the art nouveau dining room is housed in a former railway station. The name le bouillon in this context refers to a type of brasserie providing an affordable stew to workers. The original, very simple concept, was to offer quality traditional French cuisine, served fast and at good prices. Today, Bouillon Chartier still adheres to these roots and each of its locations remain evocative of Old-Paris.
The original Chartier location on rue du faubourg Montmartre was rightfully classified as a historic monument in 1989. A second location opened in Montparnasse in 2019 and has similarly grand interiors as the original.
The Gare de l’Est location opened in 2022. It also has interiors evocative of the late 19th/early 20th century, but the size and feel are more intimate than the other locations. It is a beautiful place that is more relaxed than the other locations.
The Dining Experience
Based on repeated visits from our team members the restaurant, as expected, offers value for money, good service, delicious food and the feel of a bygone era. The staff is super friendly and relatively laid back – more so than in the other locations, likely due to less hustle and bustle present at this particular location. And as always, out of town friends visiting for the first time marvel at the good value.
On a recent visit, we arrived at peak hour on a Thursday (around 20:00) on an unseasonably warm autumn evening. We were pleased to be seated at a table for two immediately. The crowd was a mix of travelers with suitcases from the nearby Gare de l’Est and Gare du Nord, locals, tourists, and a few solo diners. All the hallmarks of Chartier were there. The charming interiors, orders written in pen on the paper tablecloth, French comfort classics and rock bottom prices minus the rambunctiousness and long lines.
Being so inexpensive along with the “Frenchness” of it all contributes to the fun of visiting Chartier. Part of the fun also comes from the sense of abandon one feels ordering in a place like this. Can’t decide between oeuf mayonnaise or poireaux vinaigrette? At 2 euros and 3.50 respectively, why not order both?
And so we proceeded, in the name of research, as though we had deep pockets ordering escargots, a salade frisée aux lardons, and Rosette de Lyon to start plus a half bottle of wine. The escargots were buttery, garlicky, hot out of the oven, and all you want and expect from the classic. The salade was made with fresh ingredients and smokey bacon. It was as good as similar salads we’ve had at pricier bistros. Was the rosette de Lyon exceptional? Not exactly, but it was good and true to the rustic roots of this type of saucisson. Along with a fresh baguette, French butter, and cornichons washed down with a very good glass of Bordeaux it’s hard to not be satisfied.
A main course of choucroute garnie was hearty fare. Quenelles de Nantua had a wonderful savory sauce and were pure comfort food. Keeping within the spirit of generosity (or greediness), we ordered celeriac remoulade as a side. The celeriac flavor was woody and fresh, the mayonnaise perhaps heavy handed but at the very reasonable price of 2.70 euros, who’s complaining?
By dessert we had to admit it was time to slow down. Still, we mustered enough appetite to share a profiterole. The show-stopping presentation and pure indulgence of the rich chocolate sauce, fresh choux pastry and vanilla ice cream for less than a fiver encapsulates the delight of the whole experience. Simple French cuisine, at fair prices.
Is Bouillon Chartier Gare de l’Est the place for exceptional haute cuisine? No. But it is a great place to taste delicious, simple dishes and traditional French food such as boeuf bourguignon, steak frites, roast chicken and french fries, escargots and baba au rhum. For authentic cuisine without the long lines, you can’t beat Bouillon Chartier Gare de l’Est, a beloved Parisian institution with good reason.
Bouillon Chartier Gare de l’Est – 5 Rue du 8 Mai 1945, 75010 Paris
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