On the southern edge of the 6th arrondissement, Moustache and its neighbourhood have none of the airs of Saint-Germain. Set on a pretty, quiet street, the square panes of the front window offer a feeling of privacy and intimacy; the sort of place you might want to linger quietly over your coffee. Incidentally, it shares an address with the postage-stamp-sized Timbre, increasing the friendly neighbourhood feel.
Once inside and through the velvet drapes that serve as an entrance hall, the room is serene and understated, smelling gently of the kitchen – garlic, chestnuts, honey. The menu of bistro dishes is twistée (their word) with Asian influences, but there are only very subtle references to this in the décor – white linen, exposed brick, red banquettes, Yann Tiersen on the soundtrack (sigh), with the occasional discreet Japanese character or modern bronze wall panelling. Just on the basis of the atmosphere, we’d happily come back for a romantic evening, or in a group.
The delightful husband and wife team (he in the kitchen, she front of house) were overstretched on the night we visited, as their busboy hadn’t turned up; so Monsieur was pitching in at the tables, and an extra dessert was added in for free; endearing gestures. They had no problem with a solo diner without a reservation, and everything ran surprisingly smoothly.
Given all this, it was a shame the cooking didn’t quite deliver, especially considering the ambitious pricing (up to €27 for a main; lunchtime formules are €17 and €19). The elements of the starter, tiger prawns and calamari on a bed of textured sliced courgettes, worked well together – a sweet and sour bouillon, crunchy raw courgettes, whole warm briny chunks of seafood and a punchy garnish with coriander, mint, peanuts, roasted garlic and chilli – but it cooled quickly and became flat, though the leftover bouillon was fun to mop up with good Parisian bread. The marinated grilled pork for a main course was a gorgeous piece of meat cooked to a delicate pink, mined with grains of Sichuan pepper – a definite high point. But the wok-fried vegetables on the side were a sad disappointment, swimming in soy sauce and with that unmistakable odeur de takeaway.
A cool panna cotta with a layer of chestnut puree and scattered chunks of meringue was fine, though we couldn’t detect the advertised whisky flavour. The complimentary pineapple-flavoured guimauve – marshmallow – was a sweet gesture, but not one we’d have paid €3 for. Overall, despite high hopes, we left feeling slightly disappointed – as it is, Moustache is a charming neighbourhood option with plenty of potential in the kitchen. With just a few tweaks, it has the potential to be a great deal more.
Rue Saint Beuve, 6e
|Opening hours:||Tue-Fri lunch and dinner; Sat dinner only|