The high elegance of Saint-Germain doesn’t often lend itself to this sort of trendy neo-bistrot; more usually, the choice is between a much-hyped gourmet destination (with prices to match) or a simply overpriced tourist trap. So the clean lines, reasonable prices, above-average cooking and buzzy vibe of Café Trama – which wouldn’t be out of place in the Marais or Belleville – are a welcome find on the extremely chichi Rue du Cherche-Midi. Occupying a corner site fronted with floor-to-ceiling windows and a smart awning, inside is a large, bright room with a central bar topped with white marble and laden with home made cakes and biscuits, flanked by dark wooden tables and hung about with all the requisite designer lighting, acres of polished mirrors and scribbled chalkboard menus.
So far so good, and the kitchen does a sterling job as well. The cooking shoots for hearty, sassy versions of classic Parisian café dishes – truffled croque monsieur (€13), lentils with poached egg and haddock (€14), ‘Thai style’ beef tartare (€18) – and mostly pulls it off with panache. We started with a hefty bowl of pretty pink rillettes, which was more than enough for two to share when scooped on to rounds of crusty bread. Mains were in the same vein – a socking great piece of lamb (the meat comes from famed butcher Hugo Desnoyer) on a tangle of autumn vegetables was well cooked and seasoned, if a little dry, and a pile of scallops and prawns with cauliflower equally generous. With a couple of glasses of wine at a mere €5 a throw from a list featuring lots of natural vintages (designed by La Cave des Papilles), this all made for a perfectly satisfactory lunch.
If there’s a quibble, it’s the service. We might have caught them at a bad moment, but our waiter – while characterful – was slow and dispiritingly offhand. The €18 scallops dish was listed as containing chorizo, which it didn’t. When asked, he eventually checked with the kitchen then pulled a moue and said ‘they forgot’. Stuff like this takes the shine off an otherwise positive experience – hopefully Mme Marion Trama can sort it out, and make her café the place it deserves to be.
|Venue name:||Café Trama||Contact:|
83 rue du Cherche Midi
|Opening hours:||Tue-Sat 11am-10.30pm|
|Transport:||Metro: Saint Placide or Sèvres Babylone|